I remember when my kids were babies and every month was something to be celebrated. We took pictures and recorded all of the milestones that they hit in those first few years. Starting march 28th, 2001 every time it is the 28th of any month, I think of Nina. Matthew’s birthday is February 2nd and the 2nd of any month brings thoughts of Matthew.
Today is September 23rd. I now always know when it is the 23rd of each month. Even though I spend most days, having no idea what the date is without looking at the calendar, I always know when it is getting close to the 23rd. I can feel it in my entire body. My jaw begins to clench and my back hurts. My brain goes a million miles an hour and I have trouble holding onto any thought for more than a minute or two. This all happens every 23rd of the month. When the day is here, it is harder to get out of bed. I know that I will see details of March 23rd, 2015 pop into my thoughts all day and without warning. I will see the hospital and the helicopter. I will see machines and the ambulance and the greenway and the faces of my friend and of strangers and a bicycle and nurses and Matthew’s green chair. I will hear the ventilator and the doctor giving updates and the 911 operator. I will feel the tiny sock in my hand and see my baby’s face. I will hear the stillness in our house and the blare of Ozzy Osbourne singing “Crazy Train” to fill the silence.
Eighteen months should be a big milestone. For me, it is how long it has been since I have heard my sweet boys voice or given him a giant hug or carried him up to bed at night. It is true, that over the past eighteen months, I think of Matthew everyday. While some days, these thoughts nearly break me from missing him, more and more, I am able to think of him and smile. I think of his silly jokes (“Why did the piggy fall in the mud? There was none there to help him”), playing with our iPads on the couch together or dancing to a song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and I can’t help but smile. But on the 23rd, I struggle to get through the day.
My hope is, that over time, there will be more thoughts that make me smile, though I am sure that there will always be moments that seem impossible to get through. There will never again be a time where the hole in my heart is healed. So on the 23rd, I choose to spend the day with Matthew. I am gentle with myself and look for the signs and memories that make me smile. I walk the greenway and try to remember that we are always connected and that I am so lucky that I got to be his mommy.