They overcome me, and at the most unexpected times. The triggers, so minor. Yesterday, at my daughter’s first fall soccer tournament, one of our players took a ball to the stomach, wind immediately knocked out of her. As she stood in the middle of the field, bent over, trying not to cry, both teams got down on one knee as a show of concern and respect until she was able to walk off the field. The innocence of children, the respect shown to those suffering in pain, the love of friendship. It took my breath away, only quiet tears remained -- which I quickly wiped away.
The end of summer has brought another layer of grief for us. In ways, it is the end of the summer of Ben. The last memories we have of him running around with a beach ball at the summer concerts in the park, of him playing in the sand at the beach - running and screaming over and over at the cold waves touching his feet, reveling in the beauty at the shore of our local lake.
The fall ushers in our new “firsts.” Not the firsts that parents usually get – first sentence, day of preschool, then first day of kindergarten, first tee-ball game. It’s the first of my daughter’s travel soccer games without Ben accidentally toddling onto the field. Our first visit back to 850 Degrees Wood-Fired Pizza or Fifty Coins without his face at the end of the table. Our first trip to Kent Falls, or apple picking without him. The first pumpkin trip and Halloween without him dressed up as a little teddy bear. The first Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday.
Those are the moments that take our breath away.
The moment out to dinner with a friend, where I reminisce about rocking Ben to sleep at night – his tiny, chubby hand on my chest. The way his face looked when he was dozing off, such peace and comfort. The moment I take the girls back-to-school shopping and I glance at the boy’s clothes.
But, there are also the others. The moment at our favorite Mexican restaurant where Kyle looks down at our youngest daughter and says “Where’s your tooth?!” Look of astonishment, she frantically glances on the table – “There it is!!! Mommy, I lost my first tooth!” she screams with a new, cute toothless lisp. (I won the bet, by the way, that she’d lose it before the first day of school.) Its the moment she runs into our bedroom screaming “The tooth fairy came!” and jumps on the bed to snuggle with us.
The moment during the soccer game, where I see my daughter unrelentingly, dribbling down the field against three defenders. Where I feel a renewed energy to mirror her strength, to get through another day -- just when the forces bearing down on us seem too strong for any human to take.
Most importantly, the moment, where my husband and I are so beaten down, that we just sink, exhausted, into each other with a strong hug and simply stand, waiting, holding onto each other until the wave of unbearable emotions pass over us and we can take another step - together.