4 and 17 months

After a miserable week and half of a sleep strike/return to newborn hell, we’ve knocked out the 3am feeding! We’ve now got a bedtime routine that gets the kiddos down by 8:30 or 9, they wake up between 1-2 to eat, again near 5-6 and then sometime after 8. Maybe they just gave us those miserable 10 days so we’d remember what a treat it is to enjoy multiple REM cycles. I’ll take it.

And, with all this newfound energy and evening downtime, the reflective portion of my brain/humanity is starting to re-emerge. Different from the hormonal, nostalgic part that gets a little teary every time I take another armful of too-small clothes to the rubbermaid in the closet, this part of me rolls in like a fog, disorienting and distracting, sweeping me away. Lately the fog has drifted in with the goose pimple shivers and aching sadness of loss – a dear friend lost her two perfect twin girls, Livia and Lucy, last month and mourning with her has brought a flood of rememberings of our Selah.

And then I’m remembering all the moments I have not mourned, the moments that I have lived and celebrated and giggled and cuddled with Rowan and Evelyn and how sometimes it is hard to imagine our sweet girl being in our present reality. And I feel so guilty for that. Guiltier still when I wonder if this is “progress” – this dissipation of the anger and rage and sorrow. It’s just that I’m not sure how to properly, or fairly, or rightly remember her now that the long and lonely season of mourning seems to be fading. Grief is all I have of her in my memory – the fleeting few days of marvelous hope and joy before she passed feels like a dream and her dying is the anchoring reality. I hate that.

Then I think of the plausibly long lives ahead of all of us – Rowan and Evelyn, Drew and I – and I’m lost for how to live them. How to be fully present in each moment (putting the camera down so I can cuddle and kiss and tickle, so I can take the time to really hear Drew and understand his work enough to celebrate his triumphs and puzzle through his frustrations) without the fear that any one of them might be our last. Of course it’s not the END as much as the being left behind to grieve that really terrifies.

So while I’m marveling at the growing and changing R&E are experiencing I’m also trying to imagine our next 30, 40, 50 years together. What the world look like, what our relationships will be? The fear I feel about the unknown in each sphere is suffocating, and then ridiculous. Is it possible to live between the two? To both revere and make peace with [the possibility of] grief enough so that I might really live in the present?

Because these little people who were but a few hundred dividing cells a year ago – maybe just the size of our dear Selah – these people are learning to roll over and scoot their giant diapered bums. They giggle when I kiss their double chins and coo along as I sing to them. And I guess I just want to confess that they feel more real than Selah. How do I remember my little girl who barely was? The best I can do is to imagine her as she would be today – 17 months old, toddling around and, well. It’s mostly too much to think about.

So I’m back at the beginning. Trying to celebrate month 4, wondering about month 17 and an older sister who isn’t here.

The two littles who are here are filling my life with such joy and purpose for all the small moments when I would otherwise be lost in my head. I marvel at this gift of time and presence with them, soaking up the goofy expressions and the post-nursing cuddles, participating in the rhythmic work of laundry, cleaning, reading, resting, laughing. It all flows together so naturally and I am grateful. I know this is a gift, one that I want to live well.

Maybe I will spend month 5 returning to my monastic family, men and women who have taken on the outcasts and weary children of the world as their own. Perhaps they can teach me about how the rhythm of grief and the rhythm of grace can make a life together.

Perhaps perhaps.

I think I am thankful for the fog. It reminds me there is much about life that I cannot see or record or instagram. But I can open myself to feeling it, even the difficult grief/not grief of a lost child. And that’s grace, isn’t it?

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