It's his senior year. My oldest son.
It is time for his last prom. As he walked out in his tux I did the mom gasp. WOW. He's so handsome. He no longer stood in front of me as a boy. He now stood before me as a man.
As I give him the final "mom" look over of approval I reach up to adjust his tie. While straightening it I couldn't believe this was the last time we'd be doing this. The years had passed so quickly. It felt like it was just yesterday when he asked me if he would always be my baby. This seemingly small moment we were in, I knew I would hold and cherish forever.
And then in the midst of it, without any warning, I felt the gut punch. The kind that hits you so hard it nearly knocks the wind out of you. Reality.
Within a split second my thought shifted from one son getting ready for prom, to the son who would never get to go to prom.
I will never get to adjust his tie.
I managed to keep my emotions in check and hide the pain piercing my heart. I shoved my feelings into a box and placed them on a shelf as quickly as I could.
Not right now.
Today is for my first baby.
This is his moment.
Don't let me fool you. That forced strength didn't last forever. Once we made it through the photos, the Grand March and all the prom things, I fell a part. I sobbed into my pillow, surrendering to the grief. I cried for all of the things that would never be. The adventures we would never take. I cried for not getting to watch him grow into a man. I cried for the missed proms, first kiss, graduation, wedding, grandchildren; I cried for all of it.
When I finished crying over the things that will never be, I cried all over again from the guilt. The guilt that keeps me awake at night. The guilt of letting these thoughts take up space during my other children's moments. For not being entirely present with them because there is a piece of my heart always aching for a little boy in Heaven. During their moments - how incredibly unfair to them?!
Here I am again, still trying to learn how to live in this new life as mom and grieving mom. Not survive it - LIVE it.
Trying to learn how to enjoy each passing moment and allowing the grief to come with grace.
I'm making a point to consciously be present. I will be screaming and jumping up and down when they play sports. I will take a million and one photos every time they are silly, or sleeping, or laughing their faces off. I will inhale deeply and love every minute of watching them just do life. I will be their biggest cheerleader and #1 fan.
At the end of the day though, I will crawl into bed and I'll let myself think of my chubby cheeked little angel. I will picture what he would look like in that tux (quite dapper I'm sure). I'll invite the tears in. I will blow him a kiss goodnight just like I do every night.