The heart is the most important muscle there is, but it does more than just pump blood.
It creates memories.
“Muscle memory” is when a movement is done repeatedly over time and your muscle creates a sort of memory for that movement which allows you to do it without really thinking about it too much; like riding a bike, or typing on a keyboard.
Emotions are born in the brain . . . but they live in the heart.
That’s why it swells and overflows when we feel joy. And that’s why a “broken heart” physically hurts when we lose or miss someone.
It all happens there. Some would argue the accuracy of this, but it would fall on deaf ears. I know my heart and what it holds.
And today it is aching.
I thought I knew what love was.
Until I had a child.
And everything changed.
I fell in love with my son the moment I knew of him.
Our life together began with his first hello . . . a small flutter from within; and with every passing month, I talked to him and he responded with little poked messages of acknowledgement, as we secretly conversed in our own Morse code; with me talking and him tap, tap, tapping in reply.
Until the tapping stopped.
And it was all over.
The dream ended; the gift withdrawn.
And I was left with nothing but empty arms and a broken heart.
When you lose a baby, you lose a lifetime.
In my case, I also lost a lifeSTYLE, because I couldn’t have another child.
And the trouble is my heart already started loving him.
My heart memorized every single moment of him. Every hope and dream; his first steps and his first bike ride, when he learned to drive and when he went off to college. My heart remembers the sound of him calling out, “Mom!” as he returned home from school; and the way his dark hair fell across his forehead when he was asleep. I remember when he fell in love with my daughter-in-law and they had my first grandbaby; and how I marveled at my blessings and the opportunity to relive it all again.
Oh, yes, I fell in love with him.
And my heart remembers the life we were supposed to have.
The one I had imagined.
Our beautiful babies aren’t supposed to die; but mine did . . . on the day he was born.
He was in an incubator . . . and then he wasn’t.
Then he was in my arms.
Then I was allowed to hold him.
And in those few moments . . . we lived our lifetime together.
Those powerful few moments have sustained me for 30 years.
I’m not burdened by the weight of grief every single day anymore.
I’ve learned how to live with the reality; you get used to feeling the pain, I guess. I actually embrace it at times. And memories of my son are kind of like breathing for me – I don’t consciously think about breathing, but I do it . . . all the time.
As for today, I am thoughtful.
I am grieving the loss of my son on his 30th birthday, I am sad for what will never be, and I wonder what motivates me to rise each day.
But I do. And I will.
And I will continue to grab the little bits of joy I happen upon, and I will embrace them. I will work hard to be good and to be kind. And to be better than I am.
Because I have a son. And I want him to be proud . . . just in case there is a heaven.