The darkest days are indeed behind me. There are, however, a lot of stormy clouds still looming around. The sun peeks out for a bit and warms us up only to be overshadowed by those dark and gray clouds. Today, they seem to never want to go away.
It started on Friday. Paul and I picked a happy Alejandro up from school. He brought smiles to our eyes when he was smiling from ear to ear. We decided not to go home (which is the case these days) and instead ran errands. In doing so, Paul and I noticed that it was really odd running errands as a family of three instead of four. We whispered this to each other so Alejandro wouldn’t hear. But the kid is not easy to fool.
Later that day we went home to start packing for our camp in. Not a camp out…a camp in. At my brother’s house – an effort to keep Alejandro smiling. And it worked. But while we packed (all of us had to go because Alejandro wouldn’t go without us) it was he that said it out loud. “For a quick minute I thought there were four of us but there are only three”. Kids don’t whisper. They just speak the truth.
The camp in was a hit. Alejandro had a blast. But Paul and I felt out of sorts. We imagined Joaquin chasing along his cousins and we felt like we were dragging. The morning came and we woke up happy and ready to take Alejandro back to his golf lessons. Epic fail. While he was having fun, something as small as ant bites sent the kid in a tailspin and insisted this was the worst day ever. Again.
So we went home and we started packing. Alejandro had a day off from school on Monday and Paul and I could not fathom how we were about to entertain him without his little brother around for three whole days. Was it the right thing to do to just pack up and get out of town? At this point – God only knows.
Packing, unfortunately, came easy. Something that was never the case before. Prior to Joaquin’s passing, I had to pack two sets of clothes, two blankets, movies that both boys would agree on and of course all of Joaquin’s medicines. This time, everything fit in a carry on suitcase and while it was lighter than ever, it weighed heavy on my heart. But I chugged along. We got to San Antonio and Alejandro was happy. And so were we. Reminders of Joaquin were everywhere there too but Alejandro’s smile kept us going. The rest of the weekend was very much the same. Mass brought me peace and seeing friends made me feel warm. Until we got to the Children’s Museum.
It was there that it hit me. There were too many children. Way too many reminders all at once. They all looked liked Joaquin. Joaquin was everywhere. But he wasn’t. Paul pointed out a little child that was about one year old that had a sibling that was about seven or eight and said “If we had another child that’s what it would be like”. But it bothered me because that was never my intention. I liked the fact that Alejandro was two years older than Joaquin. That was my plan. My plan apparently and not God’s. And we can’t interfere with His plans.
We left on Monday and things were fine until nighttime on the road when all we hear is sniffling coming from the back seat. Alejandro is crying for his baby brother. And all we can do is support him and let him cry. It’s hard when we get home. He cries some more and argues with us too. This is not the boy we know and love. He cries himself to sleep as I hold him. My prayers to God are that he let Joaquin come into Alejandro’s dream and let him have some peace.
This morning was the toughest. I woke up angry. Not at God. But at his surgeon. There. I said it. I thought I had forgiven him but clearly I have not. When I text my friend how I am feeling she tells me, “You need to let it all out and get angry if you need to”. But then she tells me of how she feels that she missed out on her oldest child’s life because she was constantly mourning and crying over her daughter’s death even years later. And that is what I am afraid of. I don’t want to miss out on Alejandro’s life because I am constantly crying. So I refuse. I refuse to dwell and be that angry. I will cry. I will not let it take the best of me. I will not let it take the best of Alejandro. This family of three will patiently wait for the clouds to clear.