June 17, 2014

what if the worst

Maybe it's because I'm a worrier, prone to anxious thoughts, a planner till the end, type-A, perfectionist, first-child, or simply a Mama who worries about her baby. Maybe it's because the internet makes it so much easier to hear other people's stories and learn about their lives. For whatever combination of reasons are true, there are times when I think about what I would do if something catastrophic happened to Alden. Not for kicks or because anything scary has happened, but because I've read a blog post written by a Mother who never got to take her daughter home from the hospital or another Mother who lost her baby at 17 months due to an infection or have read on Facebook about the family who's fighting through the sorrow of losing their young son to cancer...their stories are everywhere and I learn something about myself every time I read them. I learn the ways I can be better at talking to people who have experienced loss (something I have always felt inadequate at), I learn that there are so many people who are out in the world every day carrying enormous burdens of grief on their shoulders that we never know of, I get a glimpse of just how terrifying and overwhelming those experiences can be, and, above all, I spend even more time in my day giving thanks for all of the amazing things in my life. If thinking about scary, horrible, and sometimes morbid things end up making me a more compassionate, more thankful, and more loving Mama...then maybe it's not so bad to think about them sometimes. 

I was reading a blog written by the mother of a young girl who passed away at 17 months from a lung infection and realized that even though I have been following her family's story for a few months now, I had never gone back and read their "About Us" page. I clicked on the button in the menu and was surprised to find that they had lost their oldest daughter in 2009. I found myself reading the posts about her premature birth, her stay in the NICU, and then the text of the eulogy given by the author at her daughter's funeral. I was stuck for a moment trying to imagine the pain that must have been present for her that day and every day since. I can't do it. I have never known pain like that and I hope that I never will. But it also got me thinking about the things I would say if I ever had to give a eulogy for a loved one, especially if it were Nick or Alden. I realized that there are so many beautiful moments, such incredible awe and love that I generally keep inside my own experience. I don't ever want to feel like Alden doesn't (or didn't) know exactly how much I love him or that Nick didn't understand just what he meant to me. I guess the idea of saying what you should to those you love isn't a new thing, people talk about it all the time, but spewing out deep-seated emotions isn't an easy thing for me to do. I'm not the person who can just tell you exactly how much I love you while we're sitting at the table eating breakfast. I need preparation and, most of the time, a pen and paper. I write things better than I say them. So today, I'm going to write some things to my boys. Mostly because they should know but also because I want to remind myself why I'm so fortunate to have these people in my life and I want to be able to come back and read this in 6 months or 6 years and feel the beauty of my family all over again. 

To my sweet baby boy: 
Alden, you are the best thing I have ever made and one of the top three things I have ever done (the other two are marrying your Daddy and taking the job that allowed me to meet your Daddy). You are the light of my world, apple of my eye, and absolute favorite part of the day. We joke all the time that we never understood half of what our parents told us until we were parents ourselves. It's funny because it's 100% true. You will not fully comprehend what I mean when I tell you that I would do anything possible to keep you safe, healthy, and loved. But I mean it with every piece of me. Maybe one day you will have a sibling or two, but right now, Mama cannot imagine loving any child the way I love you. You are the baby that made me a Mama and every day I look at you and wonder how I got so lucky. I was made to be yours and you will always, always, always be my baby boy (even when you're six feet tall and out of my house). 

Even at 16 months old, you have SO MUCH personality! You are silly and smart and capable and independent and curious. You make us laugh every day and I love watching you learn. Daddy & I think you are going to be an engineer. You try to take everything apart and put it back together, you examine the screws on your toys, and are always concentrating on how something works. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find you building your own treehouse or personal butler robot one day. You are cautious in new experiences and you like to take some time to get the lay of the land before you jump in. I love that you know what you need to do to get comfortable with something. I hope you don't forget that it's okay to take your time. Your legs are never still. Even when you're sleeping, you often move your feet or legs around while you snooze away. I hope this means that you'll always be an active, on-the-go guy and that you will be ready for what life brings your way. You give the best hugs. I never thought a baby would give a good hug but you manage to do it! I will cherish the memories of your little arms around me and will probably remember your tiny, toddler head on my shoulder every time you hug me from now until forever. 

I am amazed at how well we fit together, just like I have always been amazed at how I can so easily rest my head on your Daddy's shoulder when I hug him. You have found a comfortable place with me since your beginning. Even when you were just a blob in my belly, I was your comfy spot and as you grew you still managed to get comfortable in the limited space of my womb. Then, you could easily snuggle up on my chest or in my arms in those early days of babydom and even now, when you are almost 3 feet tall, you still manage to find a place in my arms as we rock to sleep at bedtime. I won't always be able to hold you in my lap but I hope you always know that we were made to fit with each other. My arms will always be here to comfort and love you. 

You are my heart and I don't know what I would do if I didn't get to share my days with you. 

I love you, 

To my darling husband: 
Nicholas, I am sometimes at a loss for words to express what you mean to me. You are my best friend and my partner in life. Those words seem cliché or inadequate but you are truly my best friend and my partner in everything. All of the beautiful and scary things are ours together, never just mine. I cannot find the words for how grateful I am to know that I will always have you walking beside me. 

You make me laugh and you let me cry. You change diapers and help me clean. You make us dinner and are happy to let me bake as much as I want. I can ask you anything; from "What's for dinner?" all the way up to, "Should I change careers?" and you take each question just as seriously as the last. You let me go a little crazy with things that are basically frivolous (like a 1 year old's party) without telling me that I should calm down because you know that it's important to me. You try really hard to remember to pick up your socks even though you never actually do ;) You let me drool over design ideas and tolerate my endless discussion of the merits of open shelving in our one-day-dream-kitchen. You tell me to go shopping when I need new clothes and you help me clean out the clutter that I'm constantly trying to get rid of. You are quite possibly the most understanding and unflappable man I've ever met and I never feel like you're holding a grudge over me for my occasional inconsiderate lapses in judgement. 

I knew from the beginning that we were in each other's lives for good. Even when there was a possibility that it would be "just friends", we knew that we were never really going anywhere. Maybe after so many days of walking together through life I forget what it felt like to be on the path alone and it lets me get a little complacent about how important your place in my life is to me. But I hope that you never forget how much I value you- as my husband, partner, co-parent, and friend. I, honestly, with every cell of me have no idea how I would get by without you. When someone has become a part of you, there's no way to remove them even if you wanted to. 

You have always known where you wanted to go (both figuratively and literally) and have allowed me to wander while finding my path with patience and support. I am still excited for our days ahead and am so thrilled that I get to experience the wonders of the life we have created with you by my side. I married you because I belong with you. When my little brother asked me, "How did you know you wanted to marry Nick?", I answered, "Because even if I was going to be miserable, I would still want to be miserable with him." I am lucky to have never been miserable but the sentiment remains the same :) 

I'm not even sure I can explain how much respect and wonderment I have for you as a father. I am overwhelmed at the patience, involvement, support, and love you have for Alden. I am so proud to know that he is going to grow up being taught by you. You are a perfect example of the kind of men we should be raising and if we can add another man like you to our human society, then I am honored to stand by your side and watch our little man grow in your image. You are respectful, intelligent, tolerant, informed, supportive, driven, loving, engaged, and kind. You will teach him how important it is to be educated, well-read, challenged, and emotionally engaged. I know he could be a truly great man and with both of us behind him, we'll have to run to keep up :) I could never do it without you. 

The (salted) butter to my bread. The breath to my life. Forever and ever. 

I love you, 

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