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Real Life: To the Child I Cannot Hold

written by Lexi Behrndt

What do I say to you? How many words can I write? I’ve heard that a person needs to tell a story a few times to be healed. I’ll never finish telling yours, just like I’ll never finish missing you. That’s the way it should be, I suppose. After all, a mother never stops loving the child she carried.

Some days it all feels so wrong, because, after all, I’m still yours, and you are still mine, but now we’re worlds apart. Some days the ache feels numbing, almost jarring, almost like I have nothing left to feel. Some days I sit on the floor, whispering “I’m sorry’s” and “I miss you’s”, hoping that they’ll travel up to you, hoping that the angels will let you know how much you are still loved, and really, how much you always will be. Some days, I carry on as if I never loved and lost, not because I want to, but because I have to, but even on those days, you’re somehow the undercurrent of every thought, every feeling, every move. I never knew it was possible to be so fused to another person, but maybe that’s the mystery of mothering a child you can no longer hold.

Someone asked about you the other day. They asked how old you were when you left me. When I told them your age, it was almost as though it justified my pain or my ache just a tiny bit more. What they don’t realize is that even if I never held you with breath in your lungs, it would still hurt, and I would still ache for the you, the one whose eyes were just like mine.

You’ve changed me, entirely, wholly, irrevocably. Living life is different now. It’s all so different now. Missing you has stripped me to a soul level. You’ve made me richer than ever possible before. I’ve learned that true strength and courage arises when you’ve experience searing loss and cannot imagine carrying on. I’ve learned that the deepest joy is known by those who have also experienced the deepest pain. I’ve seen that unending grief is really just a sign of an unending love. They say that only in the darkness can you see the stars, and while I have learned so much in the dark, I always saw the stars more clearly in your eyes.

Someday, I’ll no longer ache. The day when space no longer separates us, and our worlds will collide, and love will have the final say. The day that you’ll be back in my arms, no more sorrow, and no more pain. The first day of forever. On that day, all the years of pain, all of the compartmentalization, all the excuses, all the cover ups when the tears won’t stop flowing, all the days of barely being able to move under the weight of a shattered heart… All of those days will vanish. They’ll fade away. Grief and pain will be no more when I can once again see your face search for mine.

Until that day, I promise. I promise to find hope through the heartache, to find joy through the sadness, to find strength through incredible weakness, to love even when it’s hard, to live freely and bravely, even when I’m scared, to make the most of my days… to live in a way that would make you proud.

Always and forever.