Today, he is three. Three years old.
He has no idea that he is my breath. The reason I smile. The reason I remember what joy is.
The reason I believe life is still good.
I do not know what would have happened to me if he’d not been born. If his brother had lived, he wouldn’t have. We’d not have done IVF again with a four-month-old, and the thought that Luke would not live if Matthew had?
I don’t even have words to explain how those thoughts throw shards of glass around in my mind, trying to reconcile one I love dying so another I love could live.
I know it’s not like I had a choice; and knowing there are mothers who’ve had that staring them in the face? I thank God that pain is not mine.
But I do wonder.
What would I have done if I did not have him to throw myself into? Him to give me glimpses of what his brother would look like and the chance to live out dreams, even if altered, I’d had my whole life?
What would I have done if we’d not gotten pregnant again after Matthew died? Would I still be able to stand in front of friends and strangers and loudly proclaim how blessed I was? Would every hashtag in every picture I post still be #grateful?
I can’t honestly say. I look at friends who lost their first child and have not had any subsequent children. Some, too scared to try again. Others have desperately been trying to no avail.
I ache for them. They’ve been weighing heavily on my heart because for every second of joy and gratitude this little boy brings, I am always acutely aware of how different it could be.
How lonely. How isolating. How hopeless.
I used to think that I’d not have been a different mother if Matthew had lived. I’d waited to finally have a child to raise for so long, I feel like years of infertility prepped me to be the grateful, appreciative and patient mother that I believe I am now.
But I’d be lying. The reality is that Matthew died. His life, and death, changed me forever. Gave me a different perspective from which every breath I take is filtered. Every conversation I have with Luke is done with a different outlook. One that tears up when he asks me about his brothers in Heaven and tells me that he’s not in Heaven yet. One that makes my heart sing when he reminds me that I love all my boys.
Luke’s life gave me a gratitude for my life that I never had before…and certainly didn’t think I’d ever have after Matthew died.
No, he’s not a replacement. There are none.
He is, instead, himself. The silly, spunky, tender-hearted boy who brought light back into my life and allows my heart to soar every time I hear him say, “I’ll never leave you, Mama.” He is restoration to my soul.
Happy birthday, sweet boy. Your Mama knows how blessed beyond measure she is to have you be her sunshine.
As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.
I’m small, but scrappy! I have a fierce passion for my family, friends and life in general…I’m a military spouse who has battled infertility for over 13 years, as well as the loss of two babies gone too soon. I love to laugh, and am grateful for every second I celebrate with the ones I love. You can find me at my blog Lori Does Maryland or on Facebook Lori Mullins Ennis or on The Twitter here Lori M. Ennis