Well, my sweet Benjabear, your second birthday is fast approaching. It hit me a few nights ago. Hard. Since you passed away last summer, many things have happened that make it so easy for people to forget what this is really all about - You. Your blue eyes, soft skin, chubby legs, gleeful giggle, always happy smile, and blond curls that I loved to swipe out of your face so I could see You better. I've struggled with putting words to the emotions that have flowed out of our experiences over the last eight months. But, I see that on your birthday, it finally all comes back to you, as it should.
I think back to the day you were born. March 28, 2013. It was one of the best days of my life. No, it was THE best day of my life. Your birth was so magical. We thought you were going to be born on the side of the road! But, we made it to the hospital, and ten minutes after our arrival you were here. You were so beautiful. Those were the first words I uttered after your birth. They just flowed without pause or thought, "Oh my God, he's so beautiful!" I held you. I said, "Hey, Benjamin, its mommy." And, you turned your head slightly to the right and looked up at me, following the sound of my voice. Love at first sight. Holding you all those sleepless nights...those were the moments that I will never forget. The moments that will forever take my breath away. THAT love....it punches me right in the chest as I think about it today.
You weren't just our boy, you were all of our friends' little Benja-buddy too! You went everywhere with us. They miss you too, little man. Deeply.
Your sisters are doing great, Ben. They miss you, but they are young and live like you would - happily and fully. Daddy and I are getting to know each other again - the "new" us - and we are recovering parts of the "old" us too. We laugh, go for runs together on the trails, enjoy the sunrise, breathe the fresh air that reminds us of you. Then there is sweet Harley, our buddy Golden Retriever you never got to meet. You'd love him! But, sometimes I think you brought him to us. And, your mommy...well, I'm missing you profoundly today.
I'm going back to Connecticut for your birthday. I have to be there. The pull of a mother to a child is, in ways, physical but completely beyond the physical...its spiritual. On Christmas Eve, I felt an intense need to be with you, to hold you again. And, I feel the same for your birthday. But, I can't have that anymore, so I need the next best thing. And, I know you aren't there anymore, you are everywhere. You are the sun, the moon, the rain, the leaves as they sway in the breeze. But, I am still drawn to be there. My baby boy, oh how I want to snuggle you again. That pain is quite possibly beyond description.
I sometimes think of the moments I will miss in not getting to see you grow up. Its gut-wrenching. Every bit of it. Playing in the sand at the beach, that expression of utter amazement when you experience something new, sports as you grow older, graduation, wedding, grandchildren. Just simply...the moments of your face and your spirit, that essence of You. I remember how pure and good you were (are). A light to the world. Angelic. Always smiling. You were and still are my Joy. The short 15 months of your life were so happy, and your innocence and purity will never be blemished by the parts of the world we have experienced since your passing. This has caused an intense struggle within me. How do I respond, what do we do, how do we live through it? Who are we? The answer is in our response: our determination to survive and love, our desire to help others....or do we just fall apart, lash out, live with heavy hearts?
You were too young to understand these things. Our experience is just a taste of the larger problems that face society - we see it each day when we turn on the news. And, I'm not angry anymore, just sad sometimes and fearful for the future. Its the darker side of humanity - a myopic, polarized world, focused on negativity, vindictiveness, winning instead of compromise and unity, judgement instead of understanding and compassion, all of which fail to achieve the greater good. And, yes, we've experienced the cruelty in human nature - a vile side in the way people can treat others. You never had to witness any of this.
But, we have found, beyond this, the absolute, stunning beauty in life. Its truly magnificent, Ben. And, this is the only vision I want to speak about. I've come to believe that when your physical, seemingly "real" world is destroyed completely, you are left with the Core of what it means to be alive, wherein lies the answer to Who Are You? To have nothing but a sunrise or the smile of your children or the gentle breeze on your skin. In that moment you find what we all call God. It is the Core of all that is good; the Core of a reality that we can't see, touch, test or explain. It is the part of existence that is left when you lose everything else, and in this Calm Emptiness you find the universal Truth that is beyond words and description. Our Truth is the will to live and love, to find meaning in the simplest things, such as a sunset. It is a light, just like you, which can unify and give us hope. It is not a myopic world of black and white, but the gray in between, a One World in which we all understand how integrally connected we are.
And, for your birthday I want to make sure people understand the best in humanity we have found. And, this side of the world, Ben...it is so, very beautiful....
Love wins; kindness wins; forgiveness wins.
It is possible to face the loss of nearly everything,
to hold your breath through the pain,
to take anger, pain, negative thoughts and emotions and just
wait, think, be Still, let them pass, and in their passing to
find the Good and let that energy fill your heart.
For it is the Light of the Good that illuminates,
and gives us all hope.
It is possible to Love and be Loved and survive, and that,
my baby boy,
is the true Gift of Ben.