I couldn't shake the feeling. The feeling like I did something wrong. That maybe I wasn't properly present in the moment. That this is my fault for forgetting. And that, one day, I'd forget Damien too. Again, as I type this, I am uncomfortable. It's a genuine fear. Something I have discussed with many people, has kept me up at night, and something I even dedicated many yoga classes to letting go of. I've come to the conclusion that it's going to be ok. My children fill my heart up so much that I honestly do not think I could hold one more memory, feeling, day, laugh, cuddle, tear.... or I would burst. I will take these new experiences with complete gratitude because I have the opportunity to even make them.
So, for myself, I have spent a lot of time remembering. I want to feel what it felt like to hold Kendan when he was only hours old. I want to go back. A few days before his birthday, Kendan woke up from nap a little cranky. I scooted him over in his toddler-sized bed so that I could cuddle him for a little while (as I often do), giving him the chance to fully wake up. I stared at his hair, his eyelashes, his hands. I watched as he sucked his thumb intermittently between falling in and out of sleep. Trying to memorize him at three years old. And when he was ready to get out of bed I held him and began to list memories, specific ones, I had of him as a baby. It started to pour out. I began describing things with details I thought I had forgotten. More and more excited as I realized there was still plenty that I remembered. I tried not to cry, or scare my sweet baby boy, as it all came flooding back to me and I became more and more enthusiastic! And then I just stopped. I felt satisfied that I had, in fact, not completely replaced his newborn memories. Gave him a hug and told him, "Mommy loves you so much". I have let it go. If I spend too much time worrying about what I missed, I am going to miss a whole lot more going forward. I am blessed with the memories I have. I will always rely on pictures to remind me, whether the memory is genuine or suggested, I don't care. I love to hear other people's stories about my children, let them help me remember. And, occasionally, I am sure an old memory will reappear.
You have only been in my life for three years; but, I cannot imagine any kind of life without you in it. You have completely made mine worth living. It's amazing to think that I had 26 years before you were born but that the last three years have more of what I'll remember than any year before them. There are too many memories of you to ever list in their entirety. But, here are a few I cherish.
I remember waking up in the hospital in the middle of the night. You were bundled up and on your side, facing me, eyes wide open. Like you were staring at me, waiting for me to wake up. Just you and me. I knew then that my life was never going to be the same and that this tiny human being would be with me forever.
I remember how badly I wanted to hold you when you were under the lights for your jaundice. How I would pretend to be nursing you long after you were finished so I could hold you longer, even though the nurses told me to put you back down. You felt so warm even though you were only in a diaper.
I remember the first time your father and I attempted to let you "cry it out". I think you screamed for five minutes in the bassinet on your dad's side of the bed, and I cried right along with you. I was in complete agony! I wanted to pick you up and hold you so desperately.
I remember raising you up to see out of the large bay window in our house in Indiana. I would point and say, "sky, tree, green grass." Your gaze was so wide as you took everything in. I will never know what, if anything, was going on in your newborn mind but it made me feel so good to be in those moments with you.
I remember singing to you, one song in particular. A song I had heard many times before, but that didn't have the impact it did until after you were born. Any time you would get upset I would circle the house, holding you, bouncing you, and sing. That song will always mean the world to me, because of you.
I remember not wanting to put you down the night before I went back to work. I remember what I was wearing even. Standing in the living room, near tears at the thought of not spending a whole day with you. The heaviness on my heart in that moment can never be forgotten.
I remember one time when you were sick, a little older, and I was going through a mental checklist of all the things I could possibly do for you. Having completed them all, we were reduced to just rocking. You were sitting facing forward on my lap. I swayed back and forth and held a cool rag on your head. Your eyelashes would rise and fall with the rhythm of the chair. Your hair was long with curls on the end. I was worried about your not feeling well but completely calm at the same time, holding my baby.
Thank you for being in my life. And for turning three so that I may have the chance to go back and remember so much of what made the last few years so special. We all love you very much!