27 November 2012

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.

The days here begin before I'm ready to be awake. The baby is crying or cooing or giggling or kicking, her noise and her motion a clear indication that it's time to get the day started. Sometimes I will set her on the floor with a few toys while I lie in bed for just a couple more minutes and force my eyes to remain open, willing away the sleepiness that will tug at my heels for the rest of the day.

First things first: coffee for me, breakfast for the baby. Playtime on the floor, a book or two, and -- if the baby's breakfast was an immersive (read: messy!) experience -- perhaps a bath. Start some laundry. A walk to the park, some more playtime, and a nap for her. I do a workout video (two, if I'm ambitious), shower. If there's time, I clean up the breakfast dishes.

Our days have a steady and predictable rhythm, with the usual ups and downs: fussy days, giggly days, bumping-into-everything days. Stick and leaf-eating days, two-trips-to-the-park days. Sometimes the steady stream of normalcy we currently enjoy makes the reality of everything that happened just a couple of years ago seem like no more than a really bad dream I had once. 

We're in constant motion these days!

But even when it's not immediately obvious, Ewan is in everything about our normal days: he is why I begin every morning telling Austen, "Good mooooooorning, I loooooove you!" in  singsong voice. He's why I get down on the floor and play with her, and chase after her on my hands and knees. He's why I don't mind a bit of spit-up on my shirt or avocado stains on my pants. He is why her laughter is the best part of my day, and the reason why I thank God I get to be so tired all the time. He's the reason why I look at the swing and the high chair and the board books and the sippy cups and baby paraphernalia that has taken over my house completely and smile.

He's also the reason I'll pause at the end of a day and before I go to fold what's in the laundry basket, notice the lump in my throat, the tear sneaking out of the corner of my eye. I'll remember how she played with a toy that was intended for him first, how I wondered while pushing her in the swing at the park how it would be to have my two-year-old boy in tow. I will think of her pointing at his picture and how it catches me off guard sometimes. That's Ewan, I say. That's your big brother. And I wonder what it would be like, the two of them together. 

It was James' idea to have the monkey as a way of including Ewan in family photos.

I don't know that experiencing sadness to the depth that we did makes our current mostly-happy, incredibly-normal normalcy any happier, but it does offer a striking contrast, throwing into sharp relief just how beautiful it is, this life we have now. It's easy to forget sometimes, even for me, even with a not-so-distant loss that, for most people, falls into the category of "Oh my God, that's so horrible, I can't even imagine."

And so I am thankful for what I have: the messy house, the stained shirts, the piles of laundry waiting to be folded, the dining room table that is in constant need of clearing. The crawling baby I can hardly keep up with, the brown ring under the coffee mug on the kitchen counter, and the dried remnants of sweet potato on the floor. The ear-piercing squeals, the grabbing hands, the cup tossed to the floor yet again. The way she reaches for her mama, the way her face lights up and her cheeks bloom into a smile when her daddy walks into a room. The way she laughs so hard when I corner her and kiss her belly button, her back, her cheeks. The way she claps her hands. The way those little reddish-blonde curls spring out from the back of her head when her hair gets damp.

Morning snuggles with daddy

Two years ago, the story was so terribly different. Of burying my son on a rainy Saturday in October, of digging my fingernails into a rocking chair in a dark nursery, of hanging the Christmas stocking for the baby who wasn't there -- it is still very much a part of our present. It is tucked inside like a nesting doll: not noticeable from the outside, but still real and tangible and just as much a part of the right-now as the parts you can see. 

I'm thankful for all of it. Sometimes I need help to remember those things that live just below the surface, but yes, yes, yes: I am thankful for all that my hands hold, and for all they once held.