Tuesday, June 20, 2017
There are these moments that are so perfect. The girls fit perfectly in the bend of my elbow, one perfectly seated on each leg. Delilah turns the pages of the board book with perfect timing, while Eden "reads" along with perfect memorization. Everything is perfect.
That's when I feel it the most. That's when Gabriel's absence comes crashing back to me. That's when I am slapped in the face with loneliness that I shouldn't feel, surrounded by the love of my girls, and guilt for feeling lonely when each of them are the world. I'm filled with regret for not being able to do the impossible, for not being able to heal Gabriel so that he could be here, wrecking these moments with his pleadings to not read any more 'baby' books.
Delilah turns the page. I can't look. I suddenly can't stand it. It's all so beautiful, but the truth is something hideous. The truth is there is a little boy that will always be missing from these scenes.
I can't look at the stars. They stand between me and the little boy that I'd longed for all of my life. Like a beautiful, tangled net, they hold him in the Heavens and all I can do is dream of who waits beyond those stars. So I can't look at the stars.
Where do you go, when the stars go blue? What am I supposed to do when no matter where I turn, I'm facing an empty space?
Not so long ago, under those stars at 2:25 AM, a little girl was born who looks so much like her big brother that sometimes I have to look twice. A little girl with dark, sparkling eyes and a hint of a dimple in her left cheek and a toothy smile that will leave you victim to her charm. A little girl who still nuzzles her head under my chin, against my neck, unknowingly filling the cracks in my broken heart. My little star. "Gabe," she attempts to say, as she tugs at his picture hanging next to the stairs. I can't look at the stars, but I can't look away, either.
Nearby another not-so-little girl runs and jumps and spins and dances, curly hair flouncing, long limbs bending and flapping. A not-so-little girl with a not-so-little personality and a not-so-little vocabulary that will lash you with its wit one minute then warm your heart with its sweetness the next. My piece of paradise.
Outside a pot containing the famous blueberry bush still sits, waiting, hoping against the odds for another sprout of green, another sign of life in defiance of expectations. I may never see another leaf or blossom or berry. Maybe all you see when you look at that plant is a bunch of dead branches. But I see what could have been. I see what could still be.
Hope is a strange thing. Hope can break our hearts and let us down and fail us. Hope hurts. Hope takes guts. Hope requires love. Hope keeps me hanging on, even when the stars are blue.
Gabriel, "I lit a fire with the love you left behind. And it burned wild." I miss you. With every breath, with every beat of my heart, I miss you. I always will. I'll always see the empty space. But I'll always be thankful for 10 days that changed the world. You changed my world.
*Credit to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' song "Stars" and Ryan Adams' song "When the Stars Go Blue" for inspiration.