I would have cried.
I see the line of cars in the school pick-up line, and my heart is hit with grief, love, and wistfulness all at the same time.
You, sweet boy, should be there, waiting for me to pick you up.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone over it in my mind. Your first day of preschool. I’ve thought about your outfit—little jeans and a hoodie with a ball cap. Would you be into superheroes? What backpack would you want? I would’ve taken you school shopping, picking out all the supplies you’d need.
And I would have cried, looking at you, so grown up.
Breakfast would’ve been special that day. Mickey Mouse pancakes, studded with chocolate chips, or maybe we would’ve gone out for breakfast to wherever you chose. I would’ve watched you, traces of your breakfast around your mouth, and I would’ve cried. You’re not a baby anymore.
There would’ve been pictures. A chalkboard sign with all the things about you that make you, you. What would your favorite color be? Favorite food? What would you want to be when you grow up? The camera shutter clicks in my imagination—a little snapshot of time, preserved and tucked away. After I dropped you off, I would’ve looked through the pictures, and I would’ve cried. My sweet boy, already old enough for school. Where does the time go?
I would’ve spent the day missing you. Adjusting to your new routine. Counting down the minutes until I could pick you up, wrap you in a bear hug, and tell you how proud I was of you. I would’ve listened to your stories about your day, smiling at your excitement. We would have stopped for ice cream on the way home to celebrate. Looking over, watching you—so young, innocent, and full of life—I would’ve cried.
A perfect day. A sad smile rests on my face.
I would give anything to make those memories with you. Real memories. Not imagined ones.
I would’ve cried.
Yet, here I am with tears welling up. I think about trading these tears for those. These tears are not bittersweet like I imagine those would have been. Liquid grief, you might call them.
I close my eyes and go back to the first and last time I held you. Wrapped in that tiny blue blanket, weighing just shy of two pounds. Your tiny fingers, grasping mine, and oh, baby boy, you had such big feet. The thought of them brings a smile to my face.
I wanted to read this chapter with you, like all the chapters before and after it. Instead, I lost the whole book, and I’m left here grasping a tear-stained single page because that’s what I was given with you.
I’ll never stop missing you, my little love.
As much as today hurts and as much as I have hated seeing all of the things that reminded me of your absence, I’m grateful. I still have this page, and I will hold it forever until I can hold you. I will keep your memory alive, and every day I thank God for the time we had together. Maybe I’ll bring you flowers later and sit with you for a while. I always feel so close to you, my hand resting on the sun-warmed granite slab, etched with your name. Always our angel. I trace the words in my mind. I’ll see you soon, sweetheart.
Always, always, so much love,