June 1st always takes me by surprise. I think it’s because I’m always certain May 31st will last forever.
I remember this day three years ago in pieces. I was moved to the postpartum wing, into a soundproof room made for women like me, women that didn’t have a baby crying in their arms. I remember them bringing meals, and I remember not eating anything but a bite of cake. I think my family brought more meals that I ate more of. I remember the smell of the hospital room, and the quiet. And the laughter. Because there was laughter that day, in shock or just because we needed to feel anything else for just one second. Our social worker, Maria, came in twice. Once to bring me a teddy bear with a weight at its center to help with the overwhelming feeling of emptiness. Before I thought that sounded strange, but when he was plopped down in my arms, and some part of my soul felt like it might be ok again, I didn’t care how it looked. And once again to tell us the funeral home would pick Austin up soon.
I didn’t cry that day, I didn’t need to, or didn’t know how. I think the loss was too overwhelming to be put into any kind of physical act. It was too much to show anyone. I remember the doctor coming in, and fretting over the fact that my oxygen levels weren’t normal. I didn’t tell her that breathing was the last thing I wanted to do. Breathing was the one thing he couldn’t do. For weeks after I felt a physical weight sitting on top of my chest. I didn’t know how to explain it, other than my heart physically didn’t want to beat anymore. It wasn’t a will to die, and it wasn’t anything like suicidal thoughts, it was just something any mother would feel for a child. Any mother would die in place of her children, and this was the physical manifestation of that sacrifice. My heart didn’t want to beat, My lungs didn’t want to fill. It took months to not feel that weight anymore.
Today, three years later, I can feel the shadow of that weight, but it’s easy to lose it in the weight of Chantry. As a one year old she’s still not aware of her big brother, but she loves the teddy bear he held in his pictures, she laughs every time I let her hold him. She tries often to pick up the other weighted teddy bear, she’s still not quite strong enough. She is the biggest blessing of my life. She brings constant joy and reminds me daily of how much life there is to live. Austin will be there at the end of it all, but until then, we’ll find the joy in the little things, and the big things.