IF Matthew had lived, giving hand-me-downs to his baby brother would be a no-brainer.
IF Matthew had lived, moving him into a big-boy room and redoing his room to be a nursery for his baby brother would be exciting and fully joyful.
IF Matthew had lived, comparing his activity level in utero to his brother's activity level would be humorous and fun to compare the similarities.
IF Matthew had lived, thinking about what to do for his first birthday would be full of searching for ideas and dreaming of amazing memories of him eating his first birthday cake.
IF Matthew had lived, a 'shower' for Luke would be a given--not because he really 'needs' anything but to celebrate HIS life and give him his OWN things...just like his big brother had!
IF Matthew had lived, there would be so many different things and feelings....
But he didn't...and so while well-meaning, rational and practical statements like, "Well, you'd pass his hand-me downs on anyway," or "Another boy--now that's easy because you're all set!" make sense...trust me, things are far from easy.
Matthew's clothes are not outgrown and lovingly passed...they were never worn because he died. There was no growth. There were no sweet memories of stained spaghetti shirts that his brother will get to play in. There are tubs and tubs of clothes bought for Matthew...and passing hand-me downs on is not the same when the elder sibling never even lived long enough to need clothes.
If Matthew had lived, we'd be telling him that his baby brother is a big wiggle-worm just like he was when he was in mommy's tummy! Now when we make note of what a wiggler Luke is, it's bittersweet...not that Matthew maintains the monopoly on the term 'wiggle-worm' by any means...but when one's child dies, one tries to keep as many things unique to that child as one can. There are so few as it is...
If Matthew had lived, the issue of what to do with the nursery would be non-existent. Matthew would help us pick out all the things for his 'big boy' room and even help us pick out things for baby brother. The room would not always and forever be twinged with what it could have been...what it should have been....Instead of sitting in the rocker with Luke remembering the sweet memories of rocking his brother in the very same chair, no doubt there will be days that I will sit in that chair and wonder how it would have been to rock with Matthew...if Matthew would have felt like Luke did.
While it is true that the nursery is still in brand new condition and eagerly awaiting a baby boy...that baby boy it eagerly awaits is Matthew. Every thing in that room was lovingly and purposefully bought for Matthew. Children are not interchangeable. I cannot just delete Matthew and insert Luke.
Moreover, Luke deserves every bit of excitement and purposeful and loving planning that Matthew had. And he will get it. It's just not as easy.
One of the happiest days of my life was Matthew's shower. We were just abundantly blessed and it was one of those days that was just perfect. It was a day I couldn't wait to tell him about--to share with him how loved he was and how very, very excited so many were to be celebrating his life. Luke deserves a day like that too. He deserves a day that he is celebrated and receives things that were meant just for him. (John actually used the word 'monogrammed'--as in, "Luke needs his own things monogrammed with his name.") He deserves the memories in his baby book that show him his impending arrival brought so much joy to so many people.
But he doesn't 'need' anything. We don't 'need' anything. I thought about having a shower for our local pregnancy center in Luke's honor...and then even felt bad about that--Luke doesn't really 'need' anything because his brother died before he ever used any of his stuff and amazingly the seasons mostly match up--it would seem more like doing something in Matthew's memory than in Luke's honor.
It's all so messy and it gets even messier thinking about how Matthew's birthday is not too far away...and right around the time we'd have a shower for Luke. I know there are still four months, but they haunt me...what do I do for my dead son's first birthday while I am basically a month or so, give or take, away from my second son's LITERAL birthday?
At the beginning of this pregnancy, I felt like I was a ball of multi-colored yarn--all rolled up and messy and just a big tangle of emotions. Honestly, how could I not? In the course of the last 8 months, I have given birth to and buried a baby, and am 4 months pregnant with another. Lots of emotions and things I needed to go through with and for Matthew just had to be shelved because I had a mission--another pregnancy and doing all I could to ensure that his brother or sister would be healthy and happily received and grown.
Lately, I'd been feeling things seemed to be settling down in my life...no IVF protocol, good appointments that each day brought their own little reassurances, focusing on just enjoying every second with Luke....I felt like the ball of yarn was untangling. Less and less did it seem like there were a ton of colors, and all wound up, but more like two colors...and separating into their own individual balls. Matthew and Luke. Mourning Matthew and celebrating Luke. As they've unraveled, I have to admit their intensities have gotten stronger--I've been aching in such a strong way over Matthew, but have been truly falling more and more in love with Luke.
Now I'm starting to feel the yarns tangle again...as hurdles pop up and how to do justice to two the lives of my two little boys is always at the forefront of my mind.
I try not to live in the world of 'If' because I know it's not productive and doesn't change anything.
The truth is though that things that may 'look' easy and sound rational just aren't sometimes...and might have been....