I really hate it that autumn is my very favorite season. Of course, I say that with the change of every season except that whole spring into summer thing. (Big girls don’t like heat.)
But autumn, with its crisp, painfully blue mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights is my absolute favorite. I love the colors, the smells, the food, the football and the clothes. There isn’t anything more sublime than a Sweat Pants Sunday complete with a nap during the Chiefs game (they haven’t had an exciting game in years, I tell you) and a thick bowl of chili. We eat cinnamon rolls with our chili in this part of the country. I could never get used to the peanut butter on Wonder bread/chili combo back in Iowa. It seemed wrong somehow.
I feel kind of bi-polar both loving and dreading the fall. So many reasons to love it and so many more reasons to wish for November.
Today marks seven years since my Will died. Seven.
He would have been a second grader this fall.
He also had profound and permanent disabilities and delays already apparent in his 11 short months on this earth.
Seven years. Really?
I’ve been thinking a lot about Will lately and mostly because of Amelia.
Amelia is in preschool at our church. I was pleased that she got a spot in the 3 day a week class. She will not go to kindergarten next year because she misses the cutoff by 9 days. I could petition to send her but knowing what I know about this district and its expectations, I will wait and send her in two years.
But being in a church preschool, the children talk about God and Heaven and who is in heaven and when do we get to go to heaven and all assorted things that four-year olds think about. And my Amelia never misses a moment to mention to whichever poor and unsuspecting teacher is assigned that day “My daddy and my baby brother are in Heaven.”
Imagine you are that teacher. I love teaching four-year olds for the very reason that they are always thinking and making new connections and they will tell anybody anything. At any time. Imagine you are that teacher and this beautiful curly-haired child just announces something that even adults have a hard time understanding.
“My daddy and my baby brother are in heaven.”
And then I have to explain. I feel that I must.
There are two things that I keep thinking about when I think about Will and try not to judge too much on this first one.
I am not sad that he died.
There. I said it.
He was sick practically his whole life. Blind. Hearing impaired. Thyroid issues. Feeding problems. Brain surgeries. Never slept more than 2 hours at a time ever. Never, ever. He had night terrors. Not to mention the endless barrage of needle sticks and unfamiliar hands. Who wants to live like that?
I certainly didn’t choose or want to let him go but maybe it really was for the best. Horrible?
The date I really mourn is October 28, 2002. The day he got sick. That’s the day I wish had never happened, not ever. I mourn that I only got 13 days with him as a whole baby boy. I got 13 days of wonder and joy and bliss. That’s it. I know, I know…some mamas never even get that with their babies. (I complain about having no shoes when somebody has no feet…I get it.) But this is my blog and my memories so that’s how I feel.
Maybe it’s just because it has been seven whole years. A different decade, different president, different state, different house and car. I am, however, still wearing the same sweat pants but that’s nobody’s fault but mine.
The second thing that I can’t get out of my head is Stephen. I remember standing outside the Emergency Room, a half hour or so after he had passed. Dawn hadn’t broken yet. The night was crisp and cold but I was still shaking and sweating all at the same time. I remember Stephen kissing me so many times that our tears blended together and I couldn’t tell if it was even me that was crying anymore.
All I can remember was his shirt.
Stephen wore the same shirt that night that he wore the night he died.
I don’t know why that was significant. It isn’t really. It was his favorite and most worn shirt. Old blue. Navy blue fraternity shirt, circa 1995. Washed a gillion times and soft as satin.
I guess it’s significant to me and that’s what counts.
Seven years later. I get asked (more often than you would think) if it gets any easier. My answer is almost always “Yes, of course it does.” I’m not lying. Time fuzzes the edges. The smells and sounds fade. But so do voices and cries and the good with the bad. I don’t really know.
All I know is that the anniversary of my baby’s death marks the beginning of an awful spiral that ends right about Halloween.
And it’s a shame. Because I really do adore autumn.