It’s no surprise that this week has been hard.
Then, yesterday afternoon we packed up the car to head to Cleveland for Scott’s cousin’s wedding tomorrow. We’ve known it was coming. We know this weekend is going to be hard. This has been a hard year in our family, and the wedding on Saturday is likely to be filled with mixed emotions. Joy will be juxtaposed against sadness. Hope and excitement will be married with thoughts of what should have been and who should be there. We’ll be missing a few really important family members.
As we were packing up the car, I yelled down the stairs and asked Scott if he wanted to bring Alexander bear with us to Cleveland since none of our family has gotten to see and hold him yet. We grabbed Alexander bear and finished loading up the car.
When we got in the car, it hit me.
This road trip should have been different. So different. This weekend was supposed to be Alexander’s very first road trip. We hadn’t planned on traveling too much or too far from home in August-October after he was born, but we knew we would bring him up to Cleveland for S and K’s wedding.
There should have been a car seat in the backseat. Instead, we snapped this family picture as we pulled out of the driveway.
Many days it’s so hard to imagine how different our lives should be. But on days like this-on weeks like this-what should have been is so tangible. There is a void this weekend where Alexander should be.
Last night, as we were driving just north of Columbus on I-71, the sky was showing off something fierce. The sunset. The clouds. It was stunning.
As I gazed out the window, I wondered what it would have been like. I let my mind go there, just for a few minutes. Would Alexander be fast asleep snuggled into his car seat or would he be screaming his head off after the first hour in the car? Would he have loved road trips as much as his mom and dad do? Would he have enjoyed gazing out the window at this beautiful sunset just like his mama did?
Scott and I spent a good portion of the ride after sunset just checking in with each other. There were hard conversations about what this trip should have been like, about the grief that still feels so unimaginably heavy, and about how much we miss and love Alexander. We talked about the holidays coming up and about how we wish we could just skip over the next two months. We talked about how incredibly difficult it is to be a parent without a living child and about how grateful we are for the people who continue to daily remind us of and acknowledge our parenthood and our son. We talked about some plans for next summer and some changes in tradition that we’re hoping will make this first year without Alexander suck just a little less. We talked about how incredibly grateful we are for the support network at home in Dayton that has truly truly become like family to us.
This week isn’t going to get any easier, and we are heading into a season that’s going to be so full of sucker punches of what should have been.
So, for today, I’ll do what I need to do.
I’ll pause. I’ll take some deep breaths. I’ll remember my sweet boy. And I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Last night, I snapped this picture of the sunset in the rear view mirror and sent it to my friend SC:
“Those shots of yours are so reflective… Looking back yet moving forward.”
Looking back, yet moving forward. I do a lot of that these days. Today is no different. This week is no different.
But we keep moving forward. One milestone at a time. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time. One moment at a time.