Delicious food, great people, laughter, and chatter filled the room. At this small family gathering, we celebrated my nephew’s 8th birthday. All the makings for a perfect celebration were there. That is unless you count the cake: decorated with a Pokemon theme, the message read, “H. 8th B. Mateo.” Even that, made for a great conversation piece.
For the most part, the adults mingled in the front rooms while the kids took over the back of the house. The kids joined us for dinner and cake, then retreated to their room full of toys once more. The youngest of the kids (26 months old) toddled in and out of the room. His parents and Lil Sis were talking about the sleep deprivation of having a toddler, work, and an upcoming vacation.
Meanwhile, a few glasses of wine into the celebration, my defenses went down like a childproof gate for the stairs and I began to tumble.
I think back to another family gathering. BoBo was only 2 years old and it was me who was talking of sleep deprivation and work. Although not elaborate, I too had a vacation to chat about: BoBo and I had just returned from an overnight trip to the tent cabins in Big Sur. This was a time where our family was just beginning and we had so much ahead of us. And still, it was hard.
I can’t help but wonder how it would be if I went back to that time again — with the knowledge that I have now. Would I recognize the signs and symptoms this time around? Would we have the opportunity to at least fight for our family? One after another, the questions come pelting at me. My head throbs and I need someone to hold me tight and let me cry.
I have come to a point in my grief journey where I have accepted the loss of my husband and even taken steps (although small) toward moving on. This plummet into the land-of-what-if was not about his death. It is about my son and what might have been.
I can’t help but feel a little sad as I read about BoBo’s childhood friends graduating from high school in the announcements mailed to our home and on Facebook. These kids are now preparing to head off to college and their parents are anticipating future success. But it is not the same here.
My son is not heading off to college. He is heading off to the Air Force. And we are at war.
I wonder how often, if at all, I will get to see my son during his 4 year enlistment. And of course I wonder if he will be kept safe and sane through it all. I realize that he’s no longer a child, yet I want to erect a giant childproof-like gate to keep him from entering into enemy territory.
There is so much uncertainty ahead and no guarantees. For both YaYa and my sake, I want guarantees. Oh, and I want a hug.