We’ve almost finished the first month of this new year. Now we’ve entered into year where all the babies born last year become a year older. Now I find myself at disbelief that in four months a year will be the distance between me and Sam. January was the first time I started marking my calendar with birthdays of all the babies born sleeping last year. Sam’s friends. Sam’s cousin. My twenty or so sister’s babies that I’ve spent the last eight months intimately grieving with.
This weekend is my sweet nephew Rhett’s first birthday party. Rhett’s Mama sure does know how to throw parties. It is Rhett’s Big Top Circus Party. I can’t believe he’s a year old. I remember the day he was born. I was pregnant with Sam and I felt such joy holding him in my arms and knowing his cousin was in my belly. We share OB’s and after she checked on Ashley and Rhett and before she left their room she looked at me and Ted and with her loving smile said, “It won’t be much longer!” It felt like a beginning of a best friend cousin-ship. My heart leapt with love at all the milestones Rhett and Sam would encounter together like me and my brother Brian have.
I imagined them crawling around together over the last eight months. I imagined them swimming together over at their Grandma and Grambo’s this summer. I imagined them going to Kindergarten together, then elementary school and one day high school. I’d imagined t-ball and soccer games. I imagined Rhett being cool like my brother was and Sam following him around like I did Brian. I imagined them being best friends and throwing parties. And if I’m honest, I’d imagined them fighting like angry guys would. I’d imagined them walking across the stage at their high school graduation and crying with Rhett’s Mama. I’d never imagined what college looked like for them because I know what it looked like for me and B. Lots of beer. I did imagine their weddings though. Not specifically Rhett’s but Sam’s. I’d imagine someone falling as in love with him as I was but she would be his wife. I’d imagined falling in love with her, too. Watching them grow together.
But as I write in reality, they’re all still just imaginations. That’s all they’ll ever be. It’s devastating, really. It takes my breath away that Rhett and Sam don’t get to grow together.
I’m such a lucky Aunt that I get to celebrate the life of one of my all time favorite boys this weekend. But a huge piece of my heart already feels missing from the circus party; because it is. The sweetest little elephant won’t be there to celebrate his big cousin, to watch him open his presents and wear his party hat. To taste the sweetness of his first birthday cake and to see the flicker of his cousin’s single birthday candle.
Tonight on my heart rests all of the babies growing a year older this year and all the babies who do not.
I never imagined I’d find myself sitting with all the Mamas who will forever ride the carousel of grief. But I know they’re celebrating in heaven. I can see their circus party that they’ll have with Rhett. I see you all when I close my eyes. I feel you in my heart.
A footprint at the beginning of the party, a little brown Teddy Bear, the brightest star you’ve even seen, the sweetest penguin you’d ever meet, everything would be colored peach, butterflies dancing everywhere, a tiny but fiercely beautiful red fox, the cutest girl elephant, a big monkey just waiting for cuddles, circling around sunflowers and lilacs, with white feathers falling from the sky. And in between it all would be my elephant, watching his big cousin Rhett just like I’d imagined, opening his presents and wearing his party hat. Tasting the sweetness of his first birthday cake and seeing the flicker of his cousin’s single birthday candle.