“Blueberry pancakes or oatmeal?” I ask to your much-more-awake-than-me bright blue eyes. I repeat the question now that I have your attention and pause as you think over your breakfast choice.
I try to give you two options to choose from throughout the morning, giving you the feeling of control especially on a day like today. There will be many new experiences where you don’t get to make choices so I want you to enjoy a little more of the freedom that comes with more responsibilities.
Over the last couple weeks, you’ve picked out your brand new backpack, a deep violet which reminds me of your amethyst birthstone, a lunchbox covered in images from your favorite Disney show, as well as other supplies on the list we received in the mail from your teacher.
Today brings more choices, like “Do you want to wear a dress or this ruffled top and pants,” as I point to the brightly colored options I laid out on your bed while you were eating breakfast. I already have two barrettes in my hand I will use to pin back your auburn curls from falling in your eyes, the same beautiful, reddish curls that were a surprise to me and your Daddy on the day you were born.
Your brand-new school (with your brand-new teacher and soon-to-be new friends) is only about a mile from our house, but I drive you anyway. The clouds are dark and I don’t want to worry about rain or puddles if we were to walk. I breathe a sigh of relief as I see other parents taking photos of their children in front of the elementary school too.
For a brief moment I wonder if some of them will become my new friends too as our children become close and we call each other to schedule play-dates. This thought fades as I hold your hand tighter the closer we get to your classroom. For the next ten months, this is where you will spend more mornings than at your own home and I remind myself that at least it’s only half a day.
It’s your first day of school and while somewhat tentative at the new experience, you are more excited than nervous.
My emotions are different. I know it’s normal for many parents to have back-to-school blues. But in reality this is a different kind of back-to-school blues.
I can only imagine if the above scenario is what would have happened. If you were still alive, you would have turned 5 years old this past February (2016) and today would be your first day of school.
I think of the only photos I have of you, the photos that were taken during the 1 day that you were alive, and some taken in the time just afterwards too. I’m grateful to have any at all. While my news feed is full of other children’s adorable grins with “I can’t believe so-in-so is already in this grade” captions, I’m left thinking that I can’t believe you would have been going into Kindergarten.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that and am thankful you’re in a better place. You won’t have to struggle with the pressures to learn or bullies or even the germs and runny noses that come with school. I’m thankful that I can take comfort in knowing you’re in Heaven and that I will see you again some day. And I’m thankful that I can cry out to God and know that one day “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” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).
And of course I am extremely thankful we’ve been blessed with your brother, our miracle, rainbow son who the Doctors told us we would never be able to have. He’s only 2 now, but in two or three short years he will be off to school. So today, even more so than you already do, your memory reminds me to hold him closer and treasure every moment we have together.
…And that I get to ask him this morning, “Blueberry pancakes or oatmeal?”
For more about my pregnancy and grief journey with my dauhter, Ashlyn, read What It’s Like to Carry a Baby Who Might Die