Because I am not artistic.
Not even a little.
And so I laughed and said "Thanks, but I'm not artistic at all! You must have me confused with someone else."
But then, a few days later, I got a tweet that simply said "Artistic through your writing."
And that's been on my mind.
Because lately, the last thing I've felt like I've been is artistic or elegant in any way in this writing of mine. I wouldn't even call it writing...I have barely been able to get down anything, much less make it funny or serious or meaningful at all.
It made me sad and made me miss the days when I could sit down and write out everything I was feeling and be happy with how it turned out. Because these days, there is just so much going on that if I even remember what I meant to write about, I don't manage to write about it in any depth or with any nuance...I'm lucky just to get it down at all.
Because truthfully, these days I don't know what I feel about anything at all. I miss home so much it hurts, but then I get to spend time with my cousins who are like sisters to me, laughing so hard I can't breathe, and I am thankful to be here. I am thrilled to be able to have my high school best friend within driving distance, but I'm sad that I'm missing life with my best friends in Florida, that my kids are going to become memories to their best friends. Ava's best friend Ella told her mom that she sits alone at recess, "just thinking about Ava and Narnia." and it makes me cry, because I wonder if Ava will be blessed enough to have a friend who misses her so hard ever again. I hate that Ella's hurting and I want her to stop being so sad, but I know that when she does stop being sad then I'll hate that, too, for a million other confusing reasons.
I see Jace begin to adjust nearly seamlessly to this place, the church here, the school I'd like to send him to next year, and I am glad for him but sad that soon he may not remember much else, and I wonder how he can just accept his life so easily while Ava and I are left, disconsolate and emotional about both old and new things. The emotions of being a girl are overwhelming and just plain unwelcome sometimes.
In the end though, I know a lot of the weirdness of this month is not about moving. That adds a whole new layer to things, yes, but March is not hard because of this. March is hard because Eli's birthday is creeping up on me and I cannot get my brain to stop drawing pictures of what he would be like right now as a nearly four year old boy. Like Jace, loud and gregarious and silly? Or like Seth, reserved and stubborn and funny in a much more quiet, dry way? Maybe he would be serious, maybe he would be a terror.
I don't know. And that's what hard about this month.
Looking at a newborn, you wonder who they will become. Looking at Eli, I wondered who he would have been. Who I would have been to him, who he would have been to me. Now, four years later, I wonder where my life, John's life, all of our lives would be if he had lived. The what if's are endless, and while I'm able to avoid those thoughts for most of the year, at this time of year the second guessing becomes overwhelming. Maybe there was something I could have done. Maybe if I hadn't insisted on getting the nurses those damn donuts and just gone straight to the hospital. Maybe if I hadn't been so sad for so long I wouldn't be alone now.
I'll never know the answers to those questions. I'll never know if Eli's black curls would have stayed dark or turned blond. I'll never know what color his eyes were. I'll never know if he would been a cuddler or a comedian or a reader.
I do know, though, that he was loved. That he was born into a family who was waiting impatiently for him. That whatever we did after he died, however differently we grieved, however far we got from where we meant to be, on the day he was born we were a family who came together to love our son. That his dad and I were closer than we'd ever been during his pregnancy, that every night we prayed over him and planned for him and spent hours practicing hypnobirthing, trying to prepare for a peaceful birth for our son.
So while there are a lot of things I'll never know about Eli, there is one thing I do know. That baby boy was nothing but a blessing to his family. He blessed us from the moment he existed, he gave me months of happiness, and I'll never forget it. I wish he was here. I'll never stop wishing he was here. But just like with mostly everything else, I'm not in charge. I'm along for the ride, here, and I can't control what happened to Eli any more than I can control whether or not the baby boy I'm carrying now will be healthy or not, or any more than I can keep my older children safe from every single potential danger in life. Sometimes you just have to own that, accept that you're just along for the ride, and let go.
Let go and realize that we're not the ones in charge of our fate, anyway. It's in better hands than ours. I know Eli is laughing at me, saying "Mom, if only you knew the plan! Just wait!" I know it's coming. I know that God is doing something great with my family. I know there are things I hope for, for myself and for my children, but trying to make anything happen on my own has exploded pretty impressively in my face every step along the way. So I'l truck along, doing the best I can with what I've been given, taking care of my awesome kids, preparing for a good career, and waiting for God to make His plans known for me. And in the meantime, I'm going to try to do what Eli did effortlessly...be a blessing to everyone in my life. I want to make people's lives better for having me and my children in them. I have a long way to go, but if I get to heaven someday and my son is proud of me, it will all have been worth it.
But I'll be honest...I will be glad when March is over.