7 years since I last held you.
7 years since our first time parent innocence was shattered in an instant and our confidence crushed along with it.
7 years of missing you
I always remember walking around the block with you in your buggy. Snoozing, chatting or watching the birdies. Our usual route by the hospital, down towards the crescent and passing St. Paul's nursing home on the way.
Many times on those walks, we said hello to an elderly gentleman sitting at the bus stop. He wasn't waiting for a bus. Maybe he lived in the nursing home, maybe not. He sat there watching the world go by. Smiling at us as we passed and said hello or the odd "Lovely day today." His legs, I imagined, tired from a lifetime of walking. His eyes twinkly all the same. I often wondered what those eyes had seen. Where those legs had been.
After you died, I continued going on my walks and I remember the first time afterwards that I saw him. He hadn't been sitting at the bus stop in a while... Probably because it was the height of winter and too cold. But when I saw him and continued to see him many times after, I found myself thinking how strange life is. I thought:
'There you are sitting in your spot at the bus stop... Very elderly and alive... And my little boy is dead.'
I thought this without malice or bitterness. To me, it was just one of life's bizarre moments. The old man outlives the young child. This was against the natural order of things... At least in my book.
I sometimes wondered whether he ever wondered where the buggy and its little passenger had gone. Not that we had ever had a real conversation apart from greeting each other as he sat and I passed.
Part of me wanted to tell him you died. That you had lived. I never did but I kept an eye out for him and said hello if he was there.
At some point I realised I had not seen him in a while. I am sure he eventually passed away himself and his spot at that bus stop remains vacant... Apart from the occasional bus passenger or forgotten tub of coleslaw and cook-it-yourself pizza.
It is strange, the way people are here one second and gone the next. They are ripped from life often quickly and unexpectedly, leaving behind unfinished but mostly mundane, everyday sort of business like a pile of ironing or unopened letters from the bank.
With time, their memory begins to fade but I like to believe that part of their energy remains in the places that were most meaningful to them.
I kind of wish I had struck up a real conversation with this man some time. Before I knew it, it was too late.
I suppose that is something I take from all of this. Don't delay. You never know what is up ahead. Don't look back at a lifetime of missed opportunities. Strike up that conversation. Tell people what they mean to you.
So at this time of the year, during which breathtakingly painful flashbacks can hit us full force, we try to hold on to the good memories we have with you.
The way you peered through the wooden foot end of the bed frame... Grinning your rogue-ish, dimple-y grin.
The way your hair looked.
The way your initial preferred method of getting to where you wanted was rolling instead of crawling.
The way Debbie had to pull you out from under the radiator in the crèche loads of times.
The messy way you ate your spaghetti.
The many Munster rugby pictures we have of you.
The early morning trips to the crescent on a Sunday so you could roll and wobble through the empty mall.
The way you loved sheep and Tipoki above anything else in the world.
Still, as grateful as I am for them, 21 months wasn't enough.
Love you lots, my Sproggy-pops.