I honestly do not know how it was just five years ago that I left that hospital without my child. That John left Georgetown after he held Matthew until he died, and then gave him to the nurses and just left.
I still know that if that was me, they'd have had to sedate me and carry my body out.
I would never be able to do that, and am sad that John did, but grateful.
The PTSD episodes I've been having these last few weeks have been horrible.
Like wake up at 1:26 several different mornings just sobbing horrible.
How does a body know that? I mean, really? How does my body know that he died at 1:26, and wakes me up crying to remember? In the last 4 weeks, I've done that at least five different times--the last was on his birthday.
Black Friday. Oh, don't I know it.
We were overwhelmed, as always, with how much love and support we have. How many people remember what a beautiful but hard day yesterday was, and more, how hard today was.
How five years ago, the world stopped, even though it didn't, and I had to figure out how to keep breathing.
Literally, I had to tell myself how to breathe.
There is never any milestone that seems easier or better. Every day is a different thing I've lost. And, while Luke makes our lives worth living and we are so grateful, there is no denying that the joy in watching him often makes what we lost with Matthew's death even more tangible--we don't have to imagine how amazing parenting our little boy would be--we gratefully get to do it--but not with all we should have.
Five has been very hard. Five seems like such a milestone. So many things that five would entail.
He would be in pre-k this year, being a later birthday. He'd be writing his name and growing out of his toddlerhood into full-fledged little boy. Soccer. T-ball. Piano. We always wanted him to learn how to play piano.
So much that we planned. Just stolen.
I'm sure that plenty out there may think that having Luke makes it less a loss because we still have a little boy we get to do those things with.
But it's not him.
It is not John Matthew Ennis.
He is not, nor ever will be replaceable.
I installed the Timehop app this year. It's been a really fun way to look back very fondly on Luke as he's grown.
I've also seen my blind, blissful innocence every day.
Every day, I want to tell that me something...
That camera...it died to me the day he died. And then, I was given the gift of pictures of my son. That was the day that Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep became a precious ministry to me, and our sweet Maureen became a never-forgotten part of our story. That camera is now at a shutter count of almost 90k and I can't bring myself to replace it because I will never forget buying it and the purpose...to take pictures of Matthew. To learn how to become a "Momtographer" and document every second of his long-awaited life. I have been blessed to pretty much take a picture of Luke every day of his life, but...I'll never, ever forget why I wanted a nice camera and to learn how to use it.
This was last year. It was so hard then. Those who say it gets easier? Liars.
I look at this and really have a lot of regrets. I've been very blessed these last five years to not have many regrets. As the years pass, though, I feel like I have more and more of those, "I should have known," moments. This was just a week before we went to have him. The room we were in ended up being the exact same room I labored in a week later. The silly cd of labor music (the craziest heavy metal lullabies) was still in there from a week before. We didn't know it then, but this was the beginning of pre-e. Not that I had any major signs other than the blood pressure and swelling, but in hindsight, those were pretty significant for me. It wouldn't have changed anything. He didn't die from anything related. But who knows how it could have been?
I.was.so.wrong! There were a few weeks to go!
People were surprised I made it that long. I went out of work at 32 weeks because of swelling and concerns for leg clots. He wouldn't come for another 9 weeks almost!
Why? Why do we rush it? I know it is because I was so, so excited. But...gracious. What I wouldn't give for some more time with him. If I'd only known.
I cried this day. Cried. I was so swollen and in so much pain. I remember telling my doctor I still preferred a c-section. If only I'd stuck to my gut. Not that they pressured me to change my mind, because really, a c-section is no joke. But, I knew. Inside, I knew. Somehow. He'd have lived, if only we scheduled a c-section.
This is how I've felt for several weeks. It was only a little over a month ago that my third son would have turned two. I would have had a full house. Three boys running around.
But then I am honest. Luke would not be here if Matthew had lived. And then I stop thinking about it because it hurts my head and heart.
Yeah. WRONG. This was the last day we saw him on sonogram. November 23. I remember vividly. He only weighed 6lbs, 6 oz at birth so that sonogram was a bit off. I worried he'd be big for my little body. Oh, what I should have worried about.
Hotel Mommy. The best job I've ever been given. He knew. He had to know he was going to die and it was already in the works. And there I was...begging him to come out.
His due date. He outgrew his first outfit before he was even born.
This is where I scream, "DO NOT DO IT! DO NOT GO! Let him stay with you as LONG AS HE WANTS!" I was terrified of going past 41 weeks. But if I had...maybe the pre-e would have come on while I was still pregnant with him instead of after and forced an emergency c-section. If only...
But I still looked every day. I still want to remember because I was so happy. So thrilled. So excited. So. Ready.
Five years later, and it still feels like I was just leaving. Gut-wrenching and heavy like cement.
We put up our Christmas tree yesterday, as is our tradition for Matthew's birthday.
I pulled out the stocking I'd bought for him in September. The "My First Christmas" ornaments I'd bought in July. I remember thanking God for his life, and promising that I'd raise Him to know and love Him. I promised that I'd remember he was His first and that I was only given him for a short time.
Friends, as well-intended as that talk was, and it really was well-intended, it was not true.
I would have raised him to know God. To love and serve Him. I really was thankful for his life.
But really, Matthew was mine. The 'short time' I casually offered to God was something like 87 years at minimum. Certainly not the nine hours he lived, most of which apart from me. And, if I am REALLY honest? I know that we all belong to God.
But I don't want to offer Luke. I don't want to offer Luke for whatever time God deems. I wish I wanted to.
I just cannot fathom the thought of burying another child. My only living child. The reason I wake up in the morning. The mercy I was given after Matthew died. I cannot and do not want to do it. So, God and I just don't talk about that. I recognize that I'll hear all about trust and faith and sovereignty and all the things I've lived my life for and by.
If honest, I know His grace is sufficient. I know it is.
I don't want any more lessons on it though.
And that's just the raw Mama's heart truth.
"Auntie Shelby" and "Uncle Craig" picked up Matthew's favorite cake and John, Luke and I sang him happy birthday. I asked Luke if he would blow the candles and eat the cake for his big brother and he said, "Sure. I'll do a great job for him."
I don't know that Luke will ever know what he means to us.
When I think of how fresh this seems, I remember one of the last arguments I had with my mom before she died. She knew she was dying, and I vehemently denied it because I am Queen of Denial. She told me she wanted to be cremated, and her ashes to be spread over our sister's grave. This sister was a little girl born still in 1978. In our family, she was "That baby mom had that died," and my stomach always turns when I think of the disrespect her life was given. I know it was a different time and a different era, and I know that was probably where my parents' marriage began to unravel, though they stayed married until she died. It was never the same marriage, though, and I can understand that. I know my mom mourned her sweet Angel (what my sister was named), and in hindsight, days I'd find her crying and then quickly covering it up make so much sense now.
When she told me that she wanted her ashes spread over Angel's grave, I was furious. For the duration of my mom's bout with cancer, I'd driven to her nearly every week or every other week (because John's dad was also battling cancer and I'd alternate weeks) and tend to her every way I could. I've always been the stereotypical 'oldest child' and a pretty devoted daughter, if I said so myself. So for her to want her remains to be left with a baby she didn't even know over her 'real, living' children? I felt it was completely disrespectful to our lives. WE were her children. WE loved her. WE did things for her. She never even saw that baby. (Oh, the tears I shed over knowing she suffered so silently for so long. I am heartbroken.)
She realized she'd upset me, and she dropped it. Never brought it up again, and she was cremated, but her ashes are in a mausoleum in the same cemetery that Angel is buried.
Now, I get it. She loved that baby just as much as she loved us because we were ALL her children. She mourned her for the rest of her life because there is no forgetting that a piece of your heart and soul is missing.
Life goes on in spite of the ache. But every now and then, it aches as freshly and as intensely as it did the very day.
Like it was yesterday.
Five years was yesterday.
So says the ache in my heart.