Two little legs so innocently peeking out of the shopping cart. That was all it took to transport me back to a sweeter time in my life. His feet were snug in a pair of navy blue crocs. In a cotton, navy t-shirt, pair of shorts and a baseball cap, he chatted easily as his mom perused the aisles.
Instantly time was reversed and it was me shopping the store as Christian chatted away. We traversed the aisles, he snug in the shopping cart seat and me beaming with pride that this adorable little boy had been given to me. I trilled about products that we needed and didn’t, and time floated by.
The pace of life was reflected in the simple act of shopping. Shopping trips were born out of the necessity to replenish our home with staples, and the need to pass time. Occupying an overactive two year old was no small feat.
These simple moments are some of what I miss the most. Likely, this would be a cherished and missed memory at this stage of my life, despite my current circumstances. The nostalgia of these small, seemingly incidental moments reflective of feeling nostalgic over growing children.
As a grieving mom, it is certainly more complicated. I am mourning him at all ages.
I have a vague memory of the dichotomy present in my life during Christian’s toddler years. Fiercely I clutched on to the days we spent together in the first half of Christian’s life. These were also my first few years of motherhood.
Constantly second guessing myself, unsure of every decision I made, I feared that I was not a good mother. Sadly, this did affect my ability to be present and in the moment. Intermittently the fragility of life shook me to the core. When I discussed this with other moms, it seemed as though my fears were slightly deeper than others.
Possibly the reason for this was because everything Christian did was BIG. He was the kind of kid who demanded all of your attention as soon as he stepped into the room. He taught me patience, sheerly out of necessity. All he did, he did 110%. When apart from him, his absence was so stark it felt like a limb was missing.
Reflecting back I wonder whether certain moments were preparing me for the most devastating experience of my life. It seems to be so, but I don’t have faith that that will ever be confirmed. Either way I could never be prepared for what was to come.
I always believed that there would be more time. Belief in anything other than that would have been crushing. In June 2014 Christian participated in the last field day he would ever know. He had a broken arm so there were many limitations. Never dreaming that his Kindergarten field day would be his final one, I assured him that there were many more field days to come in which he would be able to participate fully. There weren’t.
No parents expects their child to be gone in body before they reach seven years of age.
Those tiny little legs dangling out of the shopping cart symbolized hopes, dreams and wishes that I had for Christian. They symbolized a kind of life that despite its ups and downs was still immune to the worst tragedy a parent can face. They symbolized vigilant optimism. I was aware of the worst tragedy but optimistic that my life would not be dealt that blow. Once you have been dealt this blow, you can never go back to the blissful state of child loss free parenting.
Some balloons are able to soar with joy. Child loss survivor’s balloons are always tethered down. Sometimes the weight is so heavy the balloon merely sways from side to side. Other times its a bit lighter and the balloon may rise, but it always comes back down. That is the scar of a grieving parent.