23 January 2013

It's like this.

She is a year old now, and I can't quite believe it. It's strange since it is not as if turning one happened all of the sudden, like a rug yanked out from underneath my feet, newborn to toddler with scarcely a breath in between. One day, and then another, and then another after that, time passing in its usual way until the earth has made another full trip round the sun, the girl adding ounces and inches, little by little, along the way.


 It's inevitable with these milestones we celebrate with Austen, the wondering -- What if Ewan had been here? 

James and I were recollecting recently about a moment in time during our trip to Washington from this past September. We were attending Mass at our former parish and James took a squealing and squirmy Austen back to the family area. Other young families were in the back, but it was a little girl around 2 or 3 years old that had Austen's attention. She twirled and danced and played while my daughter watched in rapt wonder. And then she stopped, running up to her older brother, throwing her arms delightedly and without reservation around her big brother's neck.

James says he hasn't seen an expression quite like the one Austen had when she witnessed this exchange: sheer joy and unmitigated delight. She squealed with glee, pumping her arms excitedly up and down, up and down as she observed the natural affection between brother and sister.

Our hearts were pierced in a thousand different ways in that moment. After that very Mass, we would be going to the cemetery to visit Ewan. We would never witness this type of relationship between our daughter and her older brother.

So we wonder, we ask, we speculate about what it might have been like with these two at home, growing up together. And we tear up a little (sometimes a lot) as what is now bumps up uncomfortably against what might have been. It is at once painful, but also impossible to avoid. So we honor the moment. We remember him, and we remember how we have two children, our hearts aching and rejoicing and wondering how the heck it happened all at once.


And we hold on tight.