Vincent and I spent the weekend down the shore with family and friends. Usually we hang out as a group on the beach, but due to the rain, our neighbors ended up coming over to our house and my in-laws hosted an impromptu barbecue.
It was a blast. Our neighbors, Pete and Daisy, have two little girls named Jasmine and Lily. Jasmine is Alliya's age, so the two of them are best buddies. Lily is only two, so she and Vincent are a little pair. The four of them play well together, too, but they definitely tend to break up into two distinct groups.
Anyhow, when my FIL brought Jasmine over in the morning to give Pete and Daisy a break, Vincent was angry that Lily hadn't come, too. He didn't understand why she needed to nap when she should've been having fun with him. Later, when Pete showed up (also without Lily), Vincent didn't even bother greeting him. He demanded to know why he dared to come over without bringing his "best friend in the whole wide world."
Finally, Lily woke up from her nap and Daisy brought her over to join the rest of us. Vincent was in his glories. He jumped off the couch, rushed over to her and gave her a giant hug. "LILY!" he cried. "We gotta play!"
This is what the two of them look like for the rest of the time they're together:
Vincent leading her by the hand everywhere, checking to make sure she's got everything she needs (or does everything she's supposed to do before she gets a snack - ha). They also both tend to scramble if you try to sneak a picture of them being cute together. Rascals.
Later on in the day, Lily settled into my FIL's lap. She calls him "Uncle John" and she knows she's got him wrapped around her adorable little finger! Anyway, it was so sweet to see how they were interacting together. I snapped this picture of her giving me a toothy grin:
Vince is right behind her with his back turned, but Lord, that kid won't let Lily out of his sight for very long. It's so cute!
I admit, however, that I got a bit wallow-y when I wondered what it'd be like for Myla to be sitting in his lap. Vince is such a good big brother to Lily (and his other little cousins), I feel sad that he didn't get the chance to interact with Myla the same way.
I pushed those thoughts out of my mind until later that evening when we took the kids out for ice cream. Again Lily was sitting on my FIL's lap while I had Jasmine, Alliya and Vince huddled up in front of me. Lily was successfully convincing my FIL to hand over all of his ice cream to her, and he was happily obliging, looking like the proudest, happiest person in the universe.
It made me sad to think that we'd never provide him with the grandchildren he takes such delight in. I felt guilty... like I'd failed something on an intrinsic level. He wasn't doing anything to accuse me or even make me feel badly. He likely didn't even notice I was there watching him enjoy Lily's manipulations for ice cream. It was my own brokenness projected and magnified by my intense longing for not only Myla, but all the children I've envisioned and subsequently been denied. I understood that, but it didn't lessen my feelings of inadequacy, failure and sadness.
I didn't want to further my upset, so I turned away and imagined myself making a fist and physically punching back the knot in my throat until I could breathe without crying.
Sorry if I sound miserable or depressed. I'm not. I'm certainly sad now and again when this sort of situation arises, but I'm trying to be honest with how this sort of thing affects my daily life. Myla is always in my thoughts, so my imagination sometimes puts her into situations like this. Is it logical? Probably not. Then again, I think it's human to always wonder "What if?"
In this situation, it's obviously a moot point, but I guess we're so used to exercising our God-given gift of creativity that we can't help ourselves sometimes.
Losing a child (or even the opportunity for children) is a terrible cross. It's hard for folks who haven't been in this situation to understand how all-encompassing it is. I don't write these things to remind people of my struggle, but I do write to remind folks that this struggle is real and it's daily (not just for me, but for the many, MANY other men and women who struggle with this sort of cross).
Tread softly and with much, much compassion, because even when we're trying our best to look past our sorrow to count our blessings, we can't help but hear echos of our indignant humanity insisting "What if?"
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