Hi Baby Boy. I love you.
I have not stopped missing you like a mad woman, and maybe I never will. You let Daddy and me experience perfect love and excitement every single day of your life and we will forever be grateful for every distinct second spent with you. You made us laugh at all the resourceful ways you figured out how to solve your own problems, and it still absolutely does not seem like this could really be our reality.
It is almost Easter and we wish so badly that we could fill plastic eggs with all kinds of vroom vrooms for you again. A one dollar Hot Wheel car, monster truck or “hah-doe” (helicopter) made you light up and let us hear that tiny, high-pitched toddler voice full of joy and excitement! Maybe this year we would have had you dye real eggs or used the Star Wars decorating kit that we neglected to open last year. I still have a little package of yellow Peeps from your basket that you never got to try, but it didn’t seem right to throw them away. I hope you get to taste all the colors of Peeps in heaven, Baby Bear.
Eleven months since we last saw your sweet, inquisitive face. That makes the pit in my stomach clench with the millions of knots tightly cinched together. It feels like an angry mob keeps kicking me over and over, and sometimes they stomp so hard I can’t breathe. People ask how we are doing and I don’t know how to answer. What should I say? Some people have this idea in their heads that our answers should fit neatly in the boxes of the “stages of grief” they read about in their high school psychology class. They think because it is getting closer to a year without you that we should be heading into that last “acceptance” box and then voila, we should be back to the people they once knew! We will never be the same without you.
Also, don’t worry, I can see straight through acquaintances’ prying questions about Daddy and I to see if we are getting along or if they can make a judgment about whether we are going to wind up turning against each other like a lot of mommies and daddies do after losing a child. You probably already know that Mommy and Daddy are soul mates and would fight any bad guys like Francesco or Darth Vader for each other. That will always be true. Mommy can handle herself, but if they try to mess with your Daddy, I will go crazy on them and smash their ill intentions or expose their selfish motives like the angriest, crazy Hulk. Yes, I will always love your daddy.
You may also hear people tell us that “at least you can have more kids” as some kind of solution to “fix” our sadness. I really hope you can’t hear these kinds of things where you are now, or you have been given wisdom to know that people just say them because they don’t know what else to say. I promise you, there will never be another person in the universe or beyond who could take your place. I also know that if we asked parents with at least two children, 100% would tell you that if they lost one child, the other could never glue their shattered hearts back together (nor should they feel the pressure to have to). I don’t fault the general public or even curious friends, I just realize most people have never experienced this kind of horrific real-life nightmare (and I pray to God they never do), and can’t possibly understand what it is like to go through the motions of each day without the biggest piece of their heart and soul.
We are also fortunate to have a handful of friends who are still “safe” to talk to and see both our fierce, personal struggles just to survive, as well as our new developments outside our comfort zones to make something constructive come from so much devastation and tragedy. Just as you were so independent and always did things your way, the way we are coping with the shock and trauma has to be managed the way that feels right to us. We throw down the egg that holds the convoluted grief manual, and try to make something meaningful crack open and pick up traction onto the Earth.
There are also Yoda baskets in our lives carried by people we need. It is not easy to let them carry those eggs, especially for independent people like us, but we know we can’t keep running around the yard with our hands full. The cruelty and agony of my grief is different than Daddy’s, but each parallels the depth of love Mommy and Daddy will always have for you. I know this just means I love you with a love that will never stop missing you and waiting for the day I get to hold you in my arms again, but you are worth every tear, grey hair, and lost nights of sleep. I know my heart will always ache with a hurt and hole only you can fill, and that is ok because that is the price of love. I will always love you, my baby, Caleb.
Keep reminding everyone that being stubborn and doing things your way can be a beautiful, powerful thing. You always knew what you wanted and you never let anyone stop you from collecting the pieces of life that meant the most to you, and leaving the others behind. When I grow up, I want to be just like you, Baby Boy. Help Mommy to be brave and also set boundaries to tell people “no.” Teach me to learn to ask for help like you did with your green egg and to remember to say “nu nu” (thank you). Thank you for continuing to inspire us to be better people and to keep fighting harder than any dinosaur or Avenger, even when we wish our hearts would have stopped with yours. How lucky we were to have been your parents here on Earth. I hope “The Caleb Effect” is collected and balanced in both hands until it falls out and leaves more than enough for everyone to play in the dirt again and again.
I love you.
To give a child a Hot Wheels car in Caleb’s honor, click on the "Be Nice" tab.