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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day By Day...

It has been three years since I last held my baby in my arms. Three long years and there are still some days that I can't believe this he's gone. There are days when I'm so overcome with grief and sorrow that it consumes my mind.

He consumes my mind.

Sometimes it doesn't feel like it was real. Like losing him was real. Like it having him was real. Like spending the rest of my life missing him is real.  And the most heartbreaking days for me are the days when I've forgotten what it felt like to have him in my life. The times where I've gotten so absorbed in the moment that I've completely forgotten about my son. And then it hits me like a ton of bricks...

My baby is really gone. 

And then there's the guilt. The horrible guilt. How dare I live a moment of my life without thinking about my baby. How dare I think about my living children and their needs, and not honor my son by keeping him in my memory constantly. How dare I allow myself to forget about my baby!

But life is for the living, and I know this. I cannot dwell on his death, but I still do.

Three years and I still visit Ethan almost every day. There are days when I have to pick and choose what's more important. Rush home to see my living children or rush to the cemetery before it closes? Relax and eat during my lunch hour or nourish my soul by visiting my baby? The days that I can't visit him, I have to force myself to believe that Ethan understands. I remind myself that he knows my other cubs need me more than he does or that he knows that I had a particularly rough morning and need to relax. But, the guilt lingers...

Life is for the living, and I have to constantly remind myself of that.

Time has a mysterious way of erasing memories.  The sound of a cry. The crook of an ear. The feeling of his weight in my arms. His smell. These were things that I desperately fought to commit to memory. I don't care how many babies I've held since I held him, they'll never replace what it felt like to hold Ethan for that last time. On the day of his wake, I stared at his tiny body in his casket for what seemed like hours trying to burn his image into my mind. It dawned on me that I never stared at his profile when he was alive. And I didn't want to forget the sweet curve of his tiny ear. 

Most days I've accepted Ethan's destiny. I know he served his purpose here on this earth, and that he is in a better place. I know Niki is alive because of him. He was born to save Niki's life. I know Kevin and Anthony have stronger, more compassionate souls for having encountered such an intimate loss at such a young age. The death of a sibling might crumble some children, but my boys have flourished. I know that my relationship with John has been given the hardest test imaginable, and it passed. We've survived something most couples will never experience. And even though it initially broke my heart to have Noie be Ethan's carbon copy, I know that I was given a special gift from a Higher Power. Now I've witnessed what Ethan would have looked like past one week of age - in a feminine form, of course. And I know she will grow up to be just as strong and compassionate as the rest of my cubs. Our entire family has been blessed with special gifts because of Ethan's death.

To live life is a gift in itself.

I believe it's Dr. Earl Grollman that said, "Grief is love's unwillingness to let go." I will always love my son, and grief is a part of that love. God bless you, Ethan Nikolas de Leon. Mommy loves you so very, very much.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

3 Years Ago...

Three years ago today. I remember it like it was yesterday. Happy Birthday, Son. I LOVE and MISS you with every fiber of my being...