I think about you a lot…especially when I see cardinals. I love that Lillianne says, “Jude bird,” or like today, when she called her / your blue bear, “Big Jude,” (because little Jude is the white bear that I sleep with). Thinking of you is such a tender act. I usually smile inwardly whether I’m looking at a young family with babies roughly two years apart or I see Lillianne playing with one of the toys that was meant for you. Certainly, I know that telltale sadness, that curtain of pain and longing overshadows my gazes, but for the most part, when I think of you, I feel peaceful and full.
I feel full because I’ve read about so many people who are empty, literally and figuratively. I read about a woman who has a nest that was emptied too soon; in the course of 11 years, she had nine miscarriages and stillbirths including one full-term stillbirth; she is now post-menopausal. How can I feel sorry for me other than to miss you so much? I feel so blessed that we had as much time together as we did, sweetheart, 33 weeks. You were so active in mommy, and I know you recall how we’d laugh thinking of how you’d out-monkey your sister. As much as we joked about being nervous about our little acrobat, I know that I for one was excited to have another animated little angel. And you will always be my busiest baby. I love you so much, my heart.
Another reason I feel full is because I’ve read about so many mommies and daddies who had to watch their pure, innocent babies suffer before they were taken to heaven, often before one year of age, sometimes later. We may never know what happened to you, darling, but one thing that I am so thankful for is that you didn’t suffer. While you’ll never know the pleasures we’re allowed in this world, you’ll never know the horrors. Also, and perhaps selfishly, I know you never suffered. You and I were together, and you were in a cocoon of warmth and undying love and the only home you ever knew when you slipped quietly away despite the chaos that was going on around you and despite the efforts to save you. So, as painful as it is, and as selfishly as I wanted to see you take a breath and to hear you scream from your lungs, I’m so thankful that you were warm, safe, and happy with me when God chose you.
Most of all, I’m thankful for the times when I feel pain. I’ve finally understood what it means to feel pleasure in pain. In the immediate aftermath of losing you, I cried so deeply and hollowly that I thought I would fall into an abyss. The agony was consuming, and it was terrifying. Eventually, the crippling pain abated to the extent that it came in doses, like a terrifying medicine that I both craved and abhorred. I can only assume the human body does this as a means for us to continue to function and adapt because without this survival mechanism, I’m not sure I would have been able to be functional for the sake of your sister and your father. So, the bouts of pain where I felt the wind knocked out of me and the ground open below my feet decreased in frequency (though, never intensity), and now, we are nearly six months away from December 26, 2014, and those periods of agony come randomly yet still, less frequently (though I think of you every day).
What has changed is that I don’t fear the pain anymore; I welcome it. I love feeling so much longing and love for you that I feel as though I could die from the overwhelming pressure of it all. It’s such a pleasureful pain because it makes me feel close to you. It makes me feel like I’m holding you again. It makes me feel like I’m touching your hands or your feet or kissing your face. It’s like a memory personified, and it reminds me that I’m not okay, even though I seem okay day to day. I’m not ready to be “okay”; I’ll never be okay. I never want to be okay. I never want for life to be so distracting that I cannot access these feelings. So, when I miss you, and it cuts like a knife, and I cry without breathing, I get to spend special time missing you and loving you, my sweet second child, my middle angel. I get to mourn and grieve the birthdays, the graduations, the questions, the discoveries, the wedding, the first car, the anxiety, and the hugs, laughter, kisses, and smiles that we will never share. I get to imagine what those would have been like, and revel in the chasm of missing you.
It’s a rare pleasure, and it makes up for all of those times I wanly smile and try to be unselfish and remember that others suffered more than you and I did. I feel it’s one of the lessons that you’ve taught me, sweetheart. I should be thankful even at times where it seems there’s little or nothing to be thankful for. I appreciate you understanding and allowing me my painful indulgences; I hope you understand, and I promise, I’m learning peace from you, my perfect little angel Jude.