This last week has been full of "what-would-have-been's". I went to see my sister-in-law the weekend before last and it occurred to me on the way home how very different the journey would have been had I been toting around a 3 month old. I may not have made the 5 hour trip with just myself and the two kids. Then while at the grocery on Monday I put Vera in the front basket seat of the cart and realized that I would no longer have put her there because Asher would have been in his car-seat clipped to the cart. Or I thought, I'd have my Moby wrap on.... and his tiny butt would be pouched to the front of me as I whizzed Vera up and down the isles. All the old people would want to stop me and touch him and ask me all about him. My Aldi family (which is what I call the cashiers at Aldi because I've know all of them for about 7 years) would stop checking people and hold him for a few minutes and hold him up for the rest of the line to see. Everyone is always patient at Aldi, so the customers would just laugh and say how cute he was.
And two days ago Vera managed to pull a tiny play-pin/tent thing intended for infants out and open it. She said, "Mommy, my baby die..... I have dis???" Pointing at the now open contraption. I just nodded and forced a smile. She asks me every so often "Why my baby die? My baby sick?" So I patiently explain once again about Asher's cord. But Asher would have been in that tent thing this summer.
I sometime sit and day dream about holding him on my chest. One hand cupping his little bottom, and the other stroking his back or hair. I sit with my hands in the shape of a newborn and imagine what it would have been like. Me, exhausted, but happy. His new baby smell. I already knew him. I know that had he lived he would have been hard to keep up with. Intelligent. Ornery and high spirited. But not so headstrong as Vera. Full of energy, with big eyes that would have looked at me with complete trust and love. And Vera would have been a perfect big sister. She wants to help anytime I hold a baby. She doesn't act jealous, just excited.
I watched a friend of mines grandson this last Sunday. I held him while he fought sleep then finally succumbed to exhaustion and slept in my arms. It was wonderful. I caught a glimpse of what it would have been like to have two.
If I imagine hard enough I can almost smell his sweet breast-fed breath, hear his tiny whimpers in the moments just before he sleeps. I can almost feel the fuzzy softness of the black-as-coal hair on his head. In my imagination his eyes are light hazel brown, the way Nolan's get sometimes. But I don't really know what color his eyes are. That fact alone, I don't know what color my son's eyes are, weighs on me, drags me down beneath icy water and takes my breath. I have never seen my son's eyes.