Hi Baby Boy. I love you. It’s officially Mother’s Day, a day reserved just for mommies where they celebrate, and make cute things with your handprints. We lost you 6 days before last Mother's Day, but your teachers had already been helping you make gifts so I got a few last Caleb originals. Thank you! I thank God for the women who cared for you while Mommy and Daddy were at work and helped you make special things that I will keep forever. I know they will always love you, too.
I loved getting artwork with hand and footprints, and we did a few similar projects at home as well (footprints were always easier by far). Do you remember making these crafts?
You aren’t here physically anymore, so even though you will always be my baby boy, today is another emotional day of being in this no man’s land where no one should ever be, and where I don’t quite fit the standard definition. I used to be a member of this sacred mommies’ club, and I even have pictures of us smiling together to prove it. But, every day no matter how much I wish this were still an awful dream, the most unwelcome and horrifically forced update is still there where I used to have my gorgeous favorite light in my life. There’s not an option to go back to an old setting or a flip phone of sorts like Grandma still uses, so I have to relearn everything. However, the biggest piece and one part that mattered most will always be missing. I normally get bored with the same old things but what we had didn’t need any enhancements. You were changing constantly and I LOVED it! I don’t want to learn this new technology; the other one was working so harmoniously and we had everything we needed (and even some of the things we wanted, too). I gave up all the extras and accessories when I committed to these terms, but someone broke the conditions of our contract; yet we are the ones stuck here paying the hefty early termination fee.
We are really trying our best to make the most of the gaping hole left in our hearts, but there are still many days I’d rather just throw away the whole device. I only use it for texting anymore anyway, but I try to keep in mind that that is not what you want. The category I once so easily and proudly jumped head first into is now a day that no matter how fast I turn off the radio, TV, or my phone, I can’t avoid hearing about all the ways we can’t celebrate together anymore. I want to hang your new handprints on the refrigerator and give you a bath to scrub off all the brightly colored paints stuck under your fingernails, but I know I can’t.
You never liked it when I scrubbed your nails, so sometimes you just played in the bath until your skin was wrinkled. Oh, how you loved your baths! The concept was that the water would loosen a tiny bit of the dirt and fun you stuffed in there, but it never worked very well. I never understood how all that excited kicking and splashing couldn’t manage to get even a morsel of the crumbs you packed from your lunch and art projects out of the crevices of your nails. Even foamy layers of bubbles rising well past your stomach couldn’t touch the grime. If you painted with your feet, I had to be strategic and not put you in your footy pajamas. When you fell asleep, that’s when I would sneak in and carefully clip your nails and dig out the gunk using my fingernails. Mommy is pretty sneaky so you didn’t even know I came in there most times, did you? Daddy was too nervous for this job, so this remains one of the things that no one else on Earth can claim they did for you but me.
I would give you a couple of minutes after you fell asleep to start my undercover hygiene operation, but no more and no less. A minute of impatience or an extra 30 seconds to stare at your beautiful face, and the mission would have to be abandoned. I had it down to a science. In fact, it was only at the end of your time here that I started trimming your nails when you were awake. You were still not a fan, but I could usually trim either both hands or feet in one sitting (but not both unless I wanted a battle). You were not quite capable of reasoning skills yet, but it didn’t stop me from trying to bargain with you anyway. I would let you watch a video on my phone to try and distract you, and you were okay for the first couple of nails, but then it was always a struggle to have you sit still for the others. You were always on the move, even as a tiny baby. This is why I decided to give you your mani/pedis at a time that I knew you would be forced to be still. I remember when the adventure was still in the experimental phase. I used the flashlight from my phone to have enough light to see to cut your tiny nails. I had to be really careful because I didn’t want the light to be too bright to wake you up but I also needed to see clearly so I didn’t hurt you. I discovered pretty quickly that the cell phone/flashlight method was not ideal and it was time to change another variable. It worked best if you fell asleep on Mommy (something I will cherish for the rest of my life) and then I could snip the delicate slivers using the light of the lamp. It still took a long time, and was definitely an art, but there is nothing in the world I wouldn’t trade to hold you in my arms again and concentrate on each of your soft, perfect little fingers and toes. Another routine that might have seemed insignificant or maybe even slightly stressful at the time, that now I desperately yearn. I never could have known how much I would miss all the responsibilities that the daily life of being your Earthly mommy brought, but I miss you so much it literally hurts.
I want to ask you funny questions about me and see what you'd say, but most of all, I just want to pick you up and hold you. I don’t want fancy bracelets like I see advertised on every channel. No, the perfect gift will be the longest hug and endless kisses. That’s what I want today and every day, but I know I can’t have that.
Does anyone clip your nails in heaven, or do they just stay the perfect length? Maybe the ultimate mother, Mary, takes care of things for the toddlers of heaven until their parents can be with them, too. Some people say I’m still a mom, but it is hard to feel like one when you don’t need me for anything anymore. I’m obviously not the only one who thinks this way because I often hear things like, “You guys WERE the best parents.” Like I said, we are in this strange purgatory of parenthood, but we are forever changed since you came into our world. I know you were never really “ours” to keep, but not having you “on loan” anymore to physically play, hold, and just sit on the couch and make each other laugh is unbearable. I’m only just now starting to tell you a fraction of how it feels to have to choose to live everyday in this world without you, but as I have told you before, I think you are somehow protected from Earthly distress. As you got older, it would have been my duty to teach you that this is not a perfect world, so I suppose it makes sense to teach you now since 2 is the oldest you will ever be. Well, Baby Boy, down here it is not heaven, so I know I can’t expect it to be. Life seems to be made up of a series of suffering, and sometimes we have to light our own candles to find our way in the dark. Sometimes the cell phone light is too bright and jarring, and we have to try a new method to do the things required to take care of each other.
I have a theory about goodness in the world, but there is no way to prove its validity.
There are 24 hours that make up the cycle of a day and night. They say humans are supposed to sleep for 8 of these hours, and we refer to this as “night.” History, literature, and real life experience seem to concur that bad things happen under this cover of darkness. Evil lurks around every corner during this time frame, and mortals can’t see clearly. Darkness is synonymous for wicked, sinful, immoral, bad, iniquitous, ungodly, and unholy, and Webster’s says that night is “a period of dreary inactivity or affliction or absence of moral values.” In fact, Elie Wiesel’s book accounting his survival of the torturous Holocaust is even titled “Night.”
Since we don’t have answers for what happened to you on your last night here, I sometimes wonder if something sinister is responsible for your earthly demise as well. We’ve tried to change the feng shui of the house, hung evil eyes from Greece, prayed, lit a candle, and done everything but have a cleansing ceremony complete with incense and essential oils (but that might be next). Who knows if any of these things work, but at this point, I don’t think they can hurt.
Night is still Mommy’s hardest part of surviving each 24-hour period, but lack of sleep has also given me more time for deep contemplation and perspective. I may be alone, exhausted, terrified, inconsolable, and without rest during those 8 hours, but that still leaves 16 hours of light (unless we decide to move someplace like Alaska, where it is all messed up)! There are still ups and downs during the daytime, and we still have to make a very conscious decision to get out of bed and participate in things that have the potential to bring happiness. However, the fact remains that two-thirds of time is still referred to as “daylight.”
Light - it is equated to goodness and deeply revered in many religious teachings. “Jesus, the Light of the World” in Christianity; the “Festival of Lights,” or Diwali, in Hinduism, celebrating the victory of light over darkness; numerous “Buddhas of Light” and spiritual enlightenment in Buddhist scripture; another Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, to celebrate the miracle allowing the Jews to regain control of Jerusalem and rededicate the Temple (in the religion of your great-grandpa and numerous relatives in Panama); the sun gods of ancient mythology; the list goes on and on.
Even the dictionary defines light as “the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible; the understanding of a problem or mystery; enlightenment; to make something start burning; ignite.” Without light, the darkness stops us in our tracks. We rush around all day, distracting ourselves, but darkness always falls, and we are forced to stop what we are doing and make our bodies recoup for another day.
So, why are there only 8 hours of night? Shouldn’t there be just as much light as darkness? My hypothesis is that maybe the world is 2/3 good and only 1/3 evil. Sometimes, especially on days like today, it seems that the scale is drastically unbalanced toward the side where everything that is wrong in this world. The hard times and tears come so much more often than the joyful moments we are trying to produce, but perhaps in reality, your 2 years, 2 months, and beginning of your 23rd day will bring us the 2/3 of bliss required to sustain our lives. Maybe we are even supposed to try to turn the 1/3 evil into light. Other people use the darkness to rest and recharge so they can bring their own glow into each day. I’ve used some of that time to work on your message of kindness. I know Mommy is not getting the restoration needed during this dark time, so I promise to keep working on it no matter how frightening the nights may be. I will use my obliterated heart and do something marvelous in your honor. The world deserves to know about you, my little bear cub, and I will always be your number one fan no matter how hard it is to live each day without your physical presence. I hope you’ll always be my favorite, radiant advocate, too.
I miss you so very much. If heaven is an even higher level of elatement than when we were together the first time, it will wipe out the 1/3 cruelty and injustice of my Earthly life. Someday I will hold you and be made whole.
Not so patiently waiting, but doing my best.