I am still here. It is hard to believe how long it has been since I last wrote in any depth. I have so much to write about, so much to say, so much clattering around in the cobwebby corners of my mind. I will be back regularly soon, I hope.
But for today, I needed to mark another milestone in this journey of life without Hudson. I took Jackson in for his 15-month well visit today. The 15-month well visit was the last regular visit Hudson made to the doctor before she got sick. Her 18-month visit was scheduled for three weeks after she died.
What is also becoming clearer with each passing day is that there is no escaping the reality that Jackson will soon be older than Hudson ever got to be. Of course, there is nothing I want more than for him to grow and flourish and live to be a very old man. But once he lives past 17 months and 12 days, he will have lived Hudson's entire lifetime. Every moment beyond that is a moment we did not get with her. It makes every moment with him, both now and then, ever more precious. But as much as every one of those moments is a reminder of all that we have, every one of those moments is also a reminder of all that we have lost. Much of the deep sense of grief I have been moving through this summer has come from the fact that Jackson has rapidly been growing into a little person very much like the little person that we lost when Hudson died. Just as she was on the brink of bursting fully into herself, so is he now. Just as she charmed us daily with her mannerisms, her words, her animal noises, her contagious smiles, her loving little self, so does Jackson. More times than I can count, I am quickly brought to tears in the very moments where I am smiling and laughing hardest with him.
A reader once commented that it was a good thing that I am able to enjoy moments with Jackson in ways that are just his, that he deserves his own life. Of course he does. He also deserves to have a big sister here on earth with him. We deserve to have both of our children living. All of us deserve many things we do not get. Life is not fair. Jackson does deserve his own life, but his life just happens to be one in which his older sister, his parents' first child, died before he was born. This fact will shape all of our lives forever. It does not mean that our grief will overshadow the joy he brings us. It does not mean that Jackson will be forced to live in Hudson's shadow, never his own person. What it does mean is that she will always be our first child, she will always be Jackson's big sister, we will always miss her, and we will all keep learning to live with our grief beside our joy. The grief does not make our joy any less. If anything, it enlarges our joy. I am learning to accept that the tears may often come in those moments of joy, but the tears don't have to detract from those moments. Instead, they can simply offer a more beautiful reflection of the joy than could ever have been possible without them.