Boy, did he hit the nail on the head when he gave us Collen.
I was giving Collen a bath tonight, and he turned to look up at me. In that moment, I literally gasped. He looked just like Ayden. The picture to the right of my blog (the blog button) flashed through my mind. The exact same face was looking back at me. And then, as quickly as it happened, it was gone. Looking at Collen, you wouldn't see a strong resemblence, but there are moments - a turn of the head, a glance, definitely the smile - traces of Ayden shine through, and I am so thankful for that.
Some days, I stare at Collen in disbelief....."He's really here..." 5 months with him, and I still shake my head and say, "It's so hard to believe." I'm actually beginning to be able to envision a future with Collen....seeing him grow up....reaching all the milestones we will miss out on with Ayden. I have had my guard up since last December, when I found out I was pregnant, just waiting for him to be taken away.
When you lose a child, your heart is ripped right out of you. It's hard for me to express how it felt/feels to me, specifically, other than to say that it is the most horendous, tortorous, heart-wrenching pain you can ever imagine feeling. To say it hurts....no...doesn't do it justice. It never goes away, and it hurts just as much today as it did THAT day.
It has almost been 17 months. 17 months without Ayden. It feels like a lifetime has gone by. Most days, I feel like I'm living an out of body experience.....a double life. I don't think that will ever go away. I go through each day feeling the sting of guilt that is normal to feel. I feel guilty for not writing a blog about Ayden as often as I used to. I feel guilty for trying to see Ayden in Collen. Guilt over not visiting Ayden's spot as often as I used to. And guilty for not tending to his garden just because it has been so cold. Guilt because I am not grieving as heavily as I once was. Guilt because my memories are starting to fade. But, all of this is normal, and I realize that, so believe me....I don't beat myself up to much. I just try to find the balance.
It's hard not to grieve what we're missing out on with Ayden. Sure, we will (God-willing) see those milestones reached with Collen, but those are Collen's. Ayden's would have been specifically his. And we're learning that they would have been very different children, and that makes me even more sad....realizing that we really are missing so much. I feel certain that Ayden would have been quiet, reserved, contemplative, observant, witty, and so, so loving. Collen is loud, curious, has a short attention span, picky, funny and silly, sweet, and just as loving as his brother. In case you're wondering - Ayden = Jeremy and Collen = Lindsay. Our personalities are so opposite, and it's crazy to see them mirrored back through our boys! Jeremy made a funny observation. We play "Where's the baby?" with Collen like we did with Ayden. Hold him up in front of the mirror, and watch him smile at himself in the mirror. Well, Jeremy was showing Collen the light switch and how it turns the light off and on. Ayden would have been more interested in the game and would have just taken for granted that the switch turns the light on...and just move on. Collen wants to touch the switch and look at it, almost as if he's thinking, "What does that do?" I am very much like that....always wondering what a random button does, or why something is put together the way it is....and I always have to touch it. Ayden would have been the one to appreciate how things are put together and how they work (like Jeremy). Collen will be the one who has to take things apart to see how they work but will lost interest before putting it back together (like me).
I love finding traces of Ayden in our lives. I love that we "know" what he would have been like at Collen's age instead of saying, "I wonder if...". He had a personality so unique to him, and we were able to see so much of it in such a short amount of time, and I know that was God.
I've read a lot of stories about SIDS children lately, and one thing has stood out in all of them. They all developed faster and reached milestones before they should have. I thought it was just us; just Ayden. But, I'm learning that a lot of SIDS babies are this way. Makes me wonder a lot of things that I don't have time to detail here. From a mother's perspective, it just makes me glad I was able to experience so much with Ayden in such a short time.
I may not write about him as often, but believe me....that little boy has my heart, and I miss him more and more every day. Because he's my first child, there's so much that is just his and mine. I'll never stop longing for him, aching for him, wishing he was still here, and I'll never, ever stop loving him - the love grows deeper and deeper with each passing day. And I'll never stop anxiously awaiting the day we'll be together again.
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”