This week, for some reason (ha), is muddled with what I was doing one year ago...and also the What Ifs. I have struggled to keep the what ifs out of my head for at least the last three months, with only mere, vague appearances. Those are awful to deal with, hurtful to handle. I know what the "what if" answers would be. It would lead to a life of happiness, togetherness, oneness....Love, Strength, Protection. These are things that I do have, I just have them in different ways now, scattered across the many faces of those who have supported me, and our friends and family with this terrible loss. However, they are not as close as he would have given them to me; to us. They are not as "one" as he would have provided. I am still very, very thankful for them, but it doesn't replace him, and still leaves me with a need of...him.
I did a lot of driving today. I went to my Daddy's and it takes about 1 1/2 hours each way. Both times, the tears flooded their dam, and I could not hold them back. I haven't let that happen in a while. I don't want Gabriel to think that his Mommy is weak. I know he is little yet, but I also don't want to get in to the habit. I know that tears do not make me weak, but the breakdown that follows the tears- that is more pain that I would like him to ever know.
Songs spoke to me tonight. Songs I haven't heard in a while, but they brought back memories and thoughts- good memories and thoughts. When Paige took our engagement pictures, the background of our portfolio was "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon. I haven't heard that song in months, and today, I heard it twice. I could remember that day, I could smell him. I could feel his touch, his kiss, his hug, and his love. I could feel the strength yet gentleness of his hold on me. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, but those that calmly flutter, knowing with full confidence that I was where I belonged. I could feel the love in my shoulders. Have you ever felt love in your shoulders? It is a wonderful feeling. Where you just know. You just know.
I of course am taking stock of the last year. Who have I become? What have I done? How have I gotten to where I am? Would Matt be proud? I still don't know who I have become. I suppose that will be a long journey, just like it was to find myself the first time. I have done a lot. I have taken on many different personas, trying to find the right fit, and more than anything, I have allowed people to support me, which is something that was previously very difficult. I have leaned on April, my friends and our families a lot, and I am very, very thankful that they were here. I have taken on the most important role of my life- Gabriel's Mommy. I have no clue how I got to where I am. I didn't think I was going to make it this far; I didn't think that God was going to let me (or make me, depending on the day) make it this far. I did. We all did. I know that Matt would be damn proud of me, even with my mistakes along the way. I think that I have done everything possible to make him proud of me, and will always continue to do so.
With that being said, I still have a giant, empty hole. I don't know where it is at. Sometimes, it is in my heart. Sometimes it is in my stomach. Sometimes it is in my head. The lump in my throat has moved to a lump in my heart. I suppose forever it will stay there. It is easier to hide this way. Don't question it though. It is there.
When my hair started falling out, and I finally adjusted to this fact, I used to rationalize. I used to tell myself that I have been blessed in so many ways, and that I just can't have everything. I still believe this. I do still believe this, but it doesn't take away the pain that I feel that he is gone. I am so blessed, and with Gabriel, I am even more blessed than I have ever been before, but I can't understand why I can't have both. I should not have to rationalize having one for having the other. And I won't.
I know if Matt were still here, Gabriel would be OUR son. He would be. I know it. I know that Gabriel came from Heaven, and he came to me- to us- to our family, as part of a Greater Plan. Gabriel may have been carried by someone else, but honestly, if Matt were here, I know I would have carried this exact child myself, or this exact child would have found his way to us. Maybe we would have gotten pregnant on R&R, maybe it would have been when he came home; Maybe this exact situation would come up at the exact time, or maybe it would have come up years down the road- but regardless, Gabriel was sent here for us. Why can't Matt be in the picture? This is why I can't understand why he is gone. I need Matt in the picture.
This brings me to the next song that spoke to me. I first heard it when I was taking Gabriel to a hotel to "bond" the day after he came home from the orphanage. Blake Shelton sings the more popular version, but it is also found on the Christian Channels by David Barnes. "God gave me you for the ups and downs, God gave me you for the days of doubt. For when I think I've lost my way, There are no words here left to say, its true, God gave me You". Since the first time I heard it, I know that it is for Gabriel and I (although people usually probably think of their significant other...)
People say when you get through the first year, then things should start to "normalize". People start to expect that things will be back to normal for those that have lost. One year is not all it takes, I can tell you that right now. This is why I stopped reading the grief books I was reading. But, I desperately wanted a timeline, and I got my answer, as I wanted the "experts" to tell me. No one, except those that have been through this, have the guts to tell you that it lasts forever. It is true, it does get easier to deal with over time. It gets easier to wait until I get home, or I am alone in the car, to cry. It gets easier to push the pain aside until a more convenient time. But I suppose that is more trial and error, understanding triggers and timing than an "Easy Button".
Today, it rained, and it rained hard at times. I cried, and I cried hard at times. Laura Story's Blessings is another song that comes to mind, that helps me get through this. My friend Cinda first pointed this out to me, and it has so touched my heart since. "'Cause what if Your blessings comes through raindrops, what if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights Are what it takes to know You're near? And what if trials in this life are mercies in disguise?"
My faith has been renewed in the last year. Very strongly renewed. As in taken from the dead and risen again renewed. I know that would make Matt proud. I know that is what I want to share with Gabriel. I have had my conversations with God. I have had my horrible, hateful words with God for taking my very life away from me. I also know that He would not hurt me so badly without sharing His glory with me as well. Ultimately, Matt came in to my life, loved me, and made me realize what I am worth. Because of this, I can share with my son. I so wish that Matt were here. I know he is enjoying his life in Heaven, watching down on us, looking over us, and protecting us from above. I just want to FEEL him. I just want to talk to him, to hug and kiss him, to ask him questions, to tell him- to his face- that I love him, and for him to tell me. But, I don't want this as a one time thing. I want it for forever.
I am trying to smile for him, for the man that I love with all of my heart. I know that is what he would want me to do. I can still hear him: "Smile for me, baby baby. Just smile '-I don't want to-' Just smile for me." [And then I do.]. He tells me I have the most beautiful smile, and smiles back at me with the most beautiful smile. I feel his love, even from 10,000 miles away. I feel his love now, all the way from Heaven. I can stomp my feet and grind my teeth all I want to, but ultimately, that won't bring him back. So, instead, I smile for him, again. I always will, but sometimes I might need to hide in a corner for a minute...