There is magic here. It hides beneath the ever growing trees and faintly sparkles off of the glass hewn fairy roads we made as children. There’s a shadow of a tiny girl sitting up in her favorite tree, hiding from school work and chores. Another shadow shows a young teenager, dancing her heart out with all of her friends at a homeschool homecoming, it was the best party that year. There she is again, on a the deck, dancing again, but this time with her new husband, young and in love, nothing to fear, knowing he would always catch her. She sits again on that same deck, just one year later. Mourning but laughing as she drinks enough wine to try to forget that her son isn’t there. Trying to lose that feeling of weightlessness that set in the moment she let them take him away.
She’s here again, not in shadow but in life. Holding a daughter that’s just turning one. Marveling at how quickly times passes and how suddenly she becomes shadow. There is a lifetime that was built in this backyard. There is a girl turned women with a lot of life still left to live. There is a daughter that she hopes will find the magic she left here, hiding inside of a mother and her siblings, and the house they all called home.
I want to enjoy these days. I want to laugh and play and love on this perfect little girl I get to raise. But every time, without fail, I wake up and I can’t go to church. And if I do go, I cry the whole time.
My first Mother’s Day after Austin died, we went to our church in California. They were giving out flowers to all the moms. They didn’t know to give me one, there was no baby in my arms. When we sat down, I was already a mess. They then asked all the Mother’s to stand. With tears streaming down my face, I did. I couldn’t not without it feeling like a betrayal of the son that had lived for just a couple of hours. I had to honor him. Honor the fact that he made me a mom. But ever since then, I can’t go to church. Not on this day.
So instead we woke up slowly. And even with Chantry bouncing up and down as she woke up and found her joy, even with her perfect beautiful face beaming up at me, it was still all complicated emotion. A mix of happiness and sadness and pain. Because even in all this love, there is a deep ache for the little boy that never came home. I miss him in May the most. When we are planning a first birthday for our little girl, and planning a day of remembrance for our little boy. Mother’s Day is just one more day that will always be complicated, and that’s just going to have to be ok.
Austin was tiny. The kind of tiny you can’t really comprehend unless you’ve felt it. 2 pounds 11 ounces is just words until you realize that this teddy bear, that is no taller than the willow tree figurine it sits next to, was almost the same size as him. Most of the time I forget how small he was, because at the time he was my only baby, I didn’t think about it much until I had Chantry. We are told constantly about our tiny little girl, born at 6 pounds 15 ounces. She’s in the second percentile and everyones always asking about her weight or how old she is since she’s so advanced, but so tiny.
She seemed like a giant to me. Even now as she sleeps (finally) I am in awe of the fact that that she is tall enough to pull anything off the coffee table she wants to. she stands and laughs and when she wants to get somewhere really fast she crawls like the wind.
I miss him every single day, and Chantry still seems like a dream most days. It’s a dance really, going around the missing and the dreaming and the what ifs and the “just keep living”.
Maybe it’s all becoming too redundant to you, three years since I began writing here, and I don’t have any new memories to share about him, because the memories with him ended in May, 2015. But writing makes me feel like he’s still a part of this, because he’s a part of my every day. I hope sometimes he’s a part of yours.
It’s been three years since I posted our first update on Austin. Three full years since all the doctors agreed he wouldn’t survive. Most days I still don’t believe it, and today I broke down. I can say it’s because I have a headache, and I injured my knee skiing this week, but all that just adds to this huge burden of forgetting.
I wanted to share some of the memories from today because I remember it now, but I can’t promise I’ll remember it next year.
On February 12th, 2015. Thomas went to work, but my mom had flown in and had set up shop in this beautiful little condo overlooking the San Clemente Pier. I invited my two best friends over, Leighanne and Kali. Leighanne was 34 weeks pregnant with my godson, Parish Lee, and we sat on the couch and laughed and talked about when Parish would come. Little did we know he would be earthside in a little less than 24 hours. Kali now has a 2 year old little girl that is such a dream.
I was craving a pizza and texting my Big, Emily. I also did not want to move from that couch. So from 2,000 miles away, Emily ordered us a pizza to be delivered. It’s still one of those things that make me cry.
The sunset that night was perfect. Thomas, Mom and I went to dinner at the pier and walked to the end to watch it. It was one of those days I remember fondly, but I have to be honest, I don’t remember writing this blog post. I don’t remember how I strung the words together, or told the world my son was dying. I don’t know how I was calm enough to speak this truth. I just know it had to be God. And a peace without understanding.
Austin was our miracle. I still believe it.
In my dreams, your story is still being written. There are chapters left blank in a book of thousands of pages. A book that contains your life story. In some other world, we heard your first laugh, danced when you took your first steps, watched as you became a big brother, how you took the responsibility seriously. We saw you grow from toddler to boy to teenager to adult. Your dad stood with you on your wedding day, and I cried tears of joy with you as you saw your bride for the first time. There should be a book. A book of life, of you. Instead I sit here without you. Trying to find a way to make one simple chapter of my life, mean to the world what it meant to me. I’m trying to make your life my life now. But that’s harder than I thought it would be. You know, I asked God to end my story when he ended yours. He didn’t oblige. Maybe that seems morbid to most, but I know that’s just something a mother prays when her baby dies. And I’m glad to be here. I’m glad to be raising your little sister. I’m glad to love her in the same way I love you. But there will always be a part of my heart that beats on begrudgingly, knowing as long as it continues, you are a world away.
But most of me will go on living. I’ll work on finding the joy in it all. But I’ll always try to make the world remember a little boy that was here for only 37 weeks and 76 minutes. I will try to live for you, Austin. And I’ll write the book for both of us.
I’ve been trying to write something for four days on 2017. I’ve tried to find words to encapsulate what this year has been and I just can’t seem to find anything good enough.
So instead I’ll share a few pictures and hope they help to inspire the right captions.
I started this year just 20 weeks pregnant. At this point we were sure she was healthy, but we weren’t quite sure if she was a SHE yet! How quickly we grew together
I was so determined to appreciate my pregnancy. We stayed super active and dog parks were a weekly stop! Remind me to start this again when it isn’t -2 outside.
This shoot was so fun! I can’t believe how quickly time has passed, but I’m thankful for the photos that will forever remind us of these moments.
That moment of complete peace when she was placed on my chest and I heard her cry for the first time. The magic lasted for weeks. She was healthy and lovely. I fell in love in seconds. These moments have shaped this year. I’m sure it will shape me even more in the years to come.
I could choose a million photos from this shoot. She was so very tiny and I was so new to this, I only knew that she was everything I had ever dreamed of. I couldn’t believe she was right here.
Forever a favorite. We were so tired, but it didn’t matter at all.
I took this on Austin’s birthday. These are some of the only pictures she’ll ever get with her big brother, I want her to know he’s always going to be watching out for her.
So so glad we got to see Ruth and Rush before they left the country! So thankful for these memories!
The Best Days.
Rock climbing and breastfeeding go together real well.
Solar Eclipse 2017
Meeting cousins and Uncles and Aunts
Visiting new beautiful places
She’s probably going to be a rockstar snowboarder.
Washington will probably be a yearly trip now. It has absolutely won my heart and seeing these cousins is just the best!!
We actually cut down our own Christmas tree and it’s the prettiest tree I’ve ever had
We ended the year with Christmas in Birmingham and New Years in Texas.
It was a year that will forever be shrouded in joy! I can only imagine the laughter and love that is waiting in 2018.
Bring it on!