Three Months

Three months ago today we said hello to Simon.

That should mean that we are watching him grow, start to smile and coo, wiggle around. We should have started to figure out by now how he sleeps, how well he eats, maybe even a little bit of what his personality would be. We should be waking up a few times a night to feed him, change his diaper, console him.

We should.

But instead, three months ago today we said goodbye to Simon.

Every day is hard. Every time we wonder about what he would have been is hard. Every time his big brother talks about the baby brother he won’t meet (as he did just a few minutes ago…”daddy, why Simon not play with this toy?” or “why is Simon at his house?”) is hard.

I geared up mentally for today, knowing that the three month mark since we said goodbye would be an especially trying day.

But I’m learning something.

It doesn’t take an anniversary, or a moment, or a specific thought to make a day tougher than the last. All it takes is knowing that no matter what we do, no matter how much we wish, Simon died and he won’t be coming home. (That’s how we tell Nolan, and it’s the blunt, brutal, heartbreaking truth.)

So yeah, three months is a hard day. But so was two months and 12 days. And 1 month and 23 days. And…..

I don’t know when, or if, this pit in my stomach will ever go away, and honestly, I’m not sure if I want it to. It’s been my constant companion for three months, and in a weird way, it’s a way to carry my little boy with me. (Not sure if that seems crazy, but it’s honest to myself.)

Three months. Three damn months.

A Tale of Two Father’s Days

Nolan woke up early…I’m talking early…this morning. I brought him into the bed with me and we chatted for a few minutes, then I was (somehow) able to get him to rest and close his eyes. We both fell asleep for another hour or so. If you know Nolan, you know this is unheard of.

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We eventually got up and Nolan brought me the first of my Father’s Day presents. A super cute book called I Love Dad. Nolan had colored on it (and his belly) and is very proud of his artwork. We read it. One of us teared up. It was a wonderful start to Father’s Day.

After a nice morning hanging out at the cabin, playing outside and a walk up the road, we headed home.

When we got home, I got the next of my gifts. First, a really nice keychain with Nolan’s name and “Everyday. Everyday.” and Simon’s name with “Always & Always.” I cried a little more.

Then game the big gift.

My amazingly thoughtful wife had a picture drawn for me. The picture of me holding our little boy shortly after he came into the world. There is pain on my face, and an angelic, beautiful look on his. He looks so perfect. And it is a perfect drawing.

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But.

It is also a reminder on this first Father’s Day without Simon that I’ll never have the chance to cuddle with him in the morning, and I’ll never know if soothing him back to sleep would have been easier or harder than it is with his big brother. I’ll never get a beautifully scribbled work of art to cherish. I’ll never know anything about what he would have been.

It was two Father’s Days today.

A great one celebrating with a toddler who hugs my legs, and wanted me to come to him when he fell (to bring him milk, but that’s beside the point…). And one that hit me like a tidal wave, forcing me to paddle like hell to keep my head above water.

Saying goodbye to Simon is a loss I’ll never get over. It’s one I never want to get over. On a day like today, it’s a loss that hurts as much as the moments we heard those terrible words.

In His Eyes

There are so many songs written about someones eyes. Odes written to eyes. So many ways to describe their color. They hold wisdom, they shine like the stars. They are among the first things people ask about when you have a baby.

And we will never know what color Simon’s eyes were.

They were closed when he entered the world, and we never had the chance to gaze into them. Worse yet, he never had the chance to look up at his adoring mommy and daddy fawning over him.

It haunts me to this day (or more accurately almost every night.) Nightmares that everyone I love is in front of me but can’t open their eyes. They can’t see me, and they are crying out for me thinking I have abandoned them. It’s one of the two recurring nightmares that wakes me several times a night.

I will always remember looking into Nolan’s eyes when he was born. I will always remember staring into them as he grows and smiling when they smiled. I will always remember the pure blue eyes that look back at me so intently when we are talking.

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And I will always remember that Simon’s eyes were closed.

He was 6 pounds 3 ounces, 19 3/4 inches long, and had basically no hair. It’s one of the most heartbreaking things in a miles-long list of heartbreaks to know that I will never know what my son, my little boy, my Simon’s eyes looked like.

He never saw it, so I can only hope that he felt our love for the nine months he was growing inside Tera.

God I miss him.

To Tattoo, Or Not To Tattoo

I’m not a tattoo guy. Never have been. Not that I dislike them, I’ve just always known that if I were to ever get one, there would have to be a really REALLY good reason for it.

Then came the really REALLY good reason.

Very soon after we were told that Simon’s heart stopped, I thought I would need a way to memorialize him, to take him with me. I knew that a tattoo would be a way to do that. I had it designed in my head, I told people of my idea, and I had a good reason. Yes, it would be hard to answer the questions when people asked about the name on my arm, but it would give me a chance to talk about Simon. About my son.

So I went to the tattoo shop and got some ideas sketched out.

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I loved it. I scheduled an appointment. I was ready to go.

Then.

Then I got home, and Nolan IMMEDIATELY told me to “wash off the numbers NOW, daddy.” And I got worried. Worried that he’d hate it, worried that he’d resent it. Just worried.

Most of all, I worried about what Nolan would think if Simon’s name was on my arm forever, and his wasn’t. What would that do to his little two-year-old brain? The last thing I wanted to do was make Nolan jealous of the little brother he’d never meet.

Then, just a couple of days before my appointment, I changed my mind for good. I couldn’t do the tattoo I had wanted since we heard the news. I couldn’t put Simon’s name on my arm so people would ask me about him and so I could talk about him. I couldn’t do it.

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SO I did this instead.

Now I have Simon’s name AND Nolan’s name forever with me. When people ask, I get to talk about my boys. When I am thinking about my boys (as I do incredibly often) I can look down at my arm and I know that they are both with me, everyday everyday, always and always.

How Am I Doing? Well…

This was the text today from my wife.

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She’s really good at checking in, and really good at knowing the exact right moment to ask me this question. And she also completely understands when this is how the conversation continues…

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It’s the question we get all the time. And sometimes I answer “I’m OK”, and sometimes that’s almost the truth. Then there are days like today. Today sucked. It was hard as hell to make it through work. And I try to figure out why, and I realize that the fact is, there is no real answer.

It was hard because our son died.

It was hard because while I was getting updates on Nolan’s trip to the park and his cuddle session with mommy I WASN’T getting updates on how Simon’s naps were today or if he was eating, or pooping, or…whatever.

Every day is hard. Some days I just don’t have those little everyday thoughts pop into my head as much that remind me of what we’re missing. What we’re missing is utterly devastating, and I can’t imagine a life when it ceases to be so.

Every moment we don’t have what we were so close to having, what we SHOULD have is hard.

So I shut myself in my edit bay a couple more times than normal today to cry. And I ran a little faster at lunch to try to sweat out some of the pain (and to try to beat the impending rain). And I did my best.

But today was hard. And it won’t be the last time. I hope in time that days like today will be easier to manage, but I know they won’t stop. Because we’ll never have Simon.

To Tera on Mother’s Day

You’re stronger than you should ever need to be.

Your tears and grief show the absolute, unending love that you have, and will always have for Simon. They show your heartbreak and your emptiness. Your longing for our situation to change. To go back in time to before the worst, most painful night of our lives.

I, we, have dreamed of the day that we would celebrate you as the mother of our two children. And today we do. That makes the heartbreak even more real and even more raw not having one of them to hold, to dote on, to care for on YOUR day.

This Mother’s Day is a reminder of what we don’t have.

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But it’s also a reminder of what we do.

I’ll never forget the night that you became a mother. 29 hours of labor. An epidural that didn’t work at all. Nearly two hours of pushing, finally a crying baby, and I told you we have a little boy.

As Nolan sleeps in his crib I know what we have. And because I know what we have (and what we have is a truly amazing little boy who loves his mommy everyday everyday, so much), I also know what we don’t have. We don’t have the family we were so ready for. We don’t have Simon.

Today, Nolan, Simon and I celebrate you because even though today isn’t what you wanted or what we should have, it is still a day to celebrate your strength, your love for your boys (all three of us) and most importantly you…the love of my life and the best mom Nolan and Simon could ever want.

Hopefully Simon knew that. I truly believe he did.

Simon’s Nursery

The nursery.

That damn nursery.

The room where I worked my ass off to make sure it was perfect.

There’s so much that dads CAN’T do during a pregnancy, and so much we have absolutely no control over.

But then there’s the nursery. The room where I added one more coat of paint to the dresser to make sure it was perfect. Because that’s what I COULD do. I could get a room ready. I could get the furniture just right and measure and mark to hang the pictures Tera picked out and framed. I could make it the absolute perfect place for our little one to sleep, to play, to grow.

The crib, all the furniture, the bookshelves, even the books are all still there, but now it’s empty.

It’s also the room where Nolan brought his tools to help me assemble the crib, where we worked SO hard to make sure Nolan was as ready as humanly possible to be a big brother. It’s where I sat thinking, dreaming, about what it was going to be like to have our two kids running around and playing.

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And now it’s empty.

And I can’t go in.

I knew before we came home from the hospital that I wasn’t going to be able to go in Simon’s room. I didn’t really know why, but now I understand. It’s full of the clothes Simon was going to wear. We made signs to hang on the wall that my grandpa, Simon’s GREAT grandpa helped me finish up. They’re still hanging on the wall, but Simon never got the chance to see them or learn the story that makes them so much more than just some homemade signs.

I love that nursery. It turned out perfectly.

I love Simon’s room.

And I can’t go in.