I have avoided writing for almost a year.
In many ways, not much has happened...which for us means no one died and we didn't have a baby.
For me, though, it was a year of shadows, little wisps of thoughts and memories drawing me inward.
First, and most obviously, this was Joshua's third year. He sometimes looks so much like Gabriel and he is the same size. There are times when I hold him close, close my eyes, and try to remember holding Gabriel. I rub his back, run my fingers through his hair, and kiss the soft neck. Then I tell him what a lucky mommy I am to have such a sweet boy as him. Sometimes I take his hand and place it over my heart and tell him slowly that mommy loves her Joshua. I am so grateful for him and for all the children.
This year we celebrated Nathaniel's Confirmation and Cecilia's First Communion. I was ever aware of the fact that because Gabriel was between them, he had missed both sacraments. It is, of course, true that he has risen above both and is in heaven. That knowledge only softens the glaring truth of his absence.
The First Communion was particularly difficult. Gabriel was older than Cecilia. This was the first event of Cecilia's that we had missed for Gabriel. As choir members, Brianna, Nathan, and I were at both services. For this I was thankful. It gave me a chance at the first one to shake off some of the poignant thoughts that had been haunting me so I could better enjoy Cecilia's.
She was beautiful.
The absence of Gabriel and my parents (her Godparents) made the day bittersweet. At her brothers' and sister's First Communion, Nana had really enjoyed helping them get ready. She had made a slip to go under the dress and add volume. She gave me my veil so my daughters could wear it. Brianna's curls in her picture? Yep. That was Nana. I could always count on her to help me make it just right.
I really missed having her here. We had a little sewing emergency that she could have taken care of very easily. Fortunately, a homeschool friend is very good and was able to help us. Thank you, Carrie.
It is so easy to get swept away by thoughts of what it would be like if they were still with us and to get bogged down by the shadows of what might have been. It has become second nature to mask the sadness that bubbles perpetually beneath the surface.
Our lives have moved on from all the tragedy and trauma. Still, in the midst of sunshine, it always seems cloudy.