How does a parent even begin to move past the trauma of losing an unborn child? Well, it helps when you already have a lunatic 2-year-old who has you shaking your head and cracking up at every turn.
This is what MJ and I saw when we checked on him last night, an hour after he went to bed. At first I thought he was monkeying around. Sometimes he likes to just chill in his room, jump on the bed or sing to himself. But as I got closer I realized he was dead asleep. Out like a light. Yet both of his feet were on the ground and half his body was off the bed. But that didn’t stop him from slumbering away. MJ and I just stood there, dumbfounded. When I went to move him he opened his eyes, looked at me and said “Grapes, dada.” Then his head hit the pillow and he was out again.
And then we cracked up laughing. Deep, genuine belly laughs. I was laughing so hard I had tears streaming down my face.
I know it doesn’t seem that funny, and it probably wasn’t. But laughs and smiles in general have been few and far between in these parts recently, and it was nice to see MJ’s return. To be honest I didn’t know what it was going to take to bring joy back into this house. Now I realize it’s going to be all Will.
The boy who, in the last month, has learned to say “OH MY GOD!” and “CALM DOWN!” The kid who constantly requests The Dropkick Murphys song “Shippin’ Up to Boston” by screaming “Ship up Boston, whoa whoa whoa!!” while pumping his arm in the air. Our baby, who has suddenly morphed into our little man, who may not possess the complete vocabulary to communicate with us, yet knows everything we’re saying to him.
This morning, while we were all in bed together before work, there was an incident. It was the thing I’d been fearing since we knew we’d lose the baby. Will was cuddling up to MJ and he started tickling her. He started tickling her stomach but then stopped suddenly, dead in his tracks.
“Oh sorry baby,” he said, talking into MJ’s stomach, apologizing to the baby he still thought was inside.
My heart sank and I started to panic. I looked at MJ with a “what the hell do we do?” glance. She shrugged her shoulders. I didn’t know whether to ignore it and hope he forgets, or to try to explain to him in simplistic terms what had happened.
“Buddy,” I began slowly. “I’m sorry but there’s no more baby in Mama’s belly.”
“What??” he said in his high pitched, surprised voice, with a heavy emphasis on the “t” sound.
“Your sister went bye-bye. No more baby in mama’s tummy. She’s gone buddy.”
He looked confused for a few seconds, glancing back and forth from me to MJ. But then, with the kind of acceptance and finality only a toddler possesses, he seemed to get it. Just like that.
“OK. Bye baby,” he said, as he planted one last gargantuan kiss on her belly.
I know that sounds sad, but strangely enough it wasn’t. It was endearing and cute and completely sweet. Will is a handful and sure he might demand to watch Toy Story 2 roughly 4,972 times a day, but he’s also going to be the one who pulls me and MJ out of this abyss.
One goofy, cute, adorable, ridiculous stunt at a time.