Saturday, August 15, 2009

Assessing the Damage

I've just returned from a trip with the girls to Kansas to visit my family. We spent several days visiting my relatives and spending time with my nieces and nephews. The kids really enjoyed one another and played endlessly together. It was really terrific to get to spend some time playing with them in the pool and hanging out together. It's been an especially extended time of it as recently my brother's family was out our way visiting as well. The older children are so much more independent than in the past and its fun to watch them play together, becoming more and more adept at sharing and not fighting.

At day's end though, my mind wanders into the empty space where Henry would be. I remind myself that it wasn't meant to be, it was never preordained to have him around for these occasions. His life was brief and had a magic all its own, vastly different in duration, but not in magnitude. Like your tongue probing the hole from a recently extracted tooth, my thoughts go to that empty space. Trying to remember how he spoke, trying to interpolate what he would look like and how he would act. He'd be five. He would be taller. Days in the sun would have put light streaks in his hair. He would have loved seeing my grandfathers collection of trucks or playing all afternoon in the pool.

When something is lost, important or not, we take stock of what is gone. Insurance adjusters do it for their livelihood. When we hurt ourselves, we immediately extend our hand to touch the injury. You get a dent in the the new car and step back to see how it affects the shine. Then we adjust our expectations and move on. Some losses are more keen than others, some expected, some not.

While I continue to remind myself that there were no promises of what would be for Henry, or for our lives with him in our family, and try to content myself with the time we shared, I'm still drawn to the empty space, feeling it, touching it, probing it, wanting to know what it would be like. There's still an awful lot of life left in which to be assessing that damage.