I just can't. I'm not ready, though I'm not sure I'll ever be truly ready in any sense of the word.
I know that time moves faster and faster with each passing moment. I know that there is nothing I can do to stop it or even to slow it down. I know it with all the certainty that I've ever known anything.
I know that I have far less time left with this life than I believe that I do.
I just can't.
The Oldest and The Baby.
The baby's face when his brother got home.
Separated by 13 years, but inseparable.
At least for now.
The Oldest was up in the mountains with Scouts. They actually go camping, on purpose, in the dead of winter. And they like it. I'm grateful that there are adults in this world who will agree to go on trips like that one so that people like me don't have to sleep outside when it's 3 degrees. For reasons that will never make sense to me, he loves it.
It's quieter when he isn't here. It's strange.
One person lost without him home, the baby.
The baby spent two solid days wandering the house. One of the clearest words he says is his brother's name, and he kept saying it. At first, it was in his usual insistent tone, the one where he demands his brother's attention, the tone that he's probably learned watching me holler up the stairs for his entire lifetime. As his paging requests went unanswered, the tone started to shift.
He'd look around corners and glance up the stairs, as the name he was calling got a little bit fainter. His shoulders shrugging, his arms would go up in the universal body language of I don't know.
Where is he?
I don't know.
He couldn't find his brother, and it broke my heart.
It broke my heart because I know what is coming, the moment when that older brother, the child upon whom the sun rises and sets for this boy, will leave for far longer than two days at a time. He won't just be gone for a little bit and return home again.
And it is all coming sooner and faster than we might wish it to.
I know this.
I know that it won't just be my heart hurting when the oldest packs up and departs, when he goes from being a constant presence in the house to an occasional visitor. I know it won't just be me glancing around corners and hollering up the stairs, then catching myself when I realize he isn't here.
It won't just be me.
It will be him too. The baby.
And then he'll have to do it again and again and again.
He'll be left behind four times.
And then, for a long time, it will just be him.
I know all these things, but I can't think too much about them now. I see friends with children just a few years older than mine living these moments now, applying for college, packing them up and dropping them off somewhere else. I see the younger siblings being left behind. I know that it is coming.
But it's not here yet.
And I just can't.
Parenthood, so filled with simultaneous anticipation and dread all at once.
I used to believe that it would get easier.
I was completely wrong about that, and about so much else.
Nothing about this gets easier.
For now, I'll be dwelling in this moment for as long as I can. I'll be soaking up the joy on the baby's face when his big brother comes home. I'll be giggling each time he yells his brother's name around the house. I'll be etching all the times that older brother drops whatever he is doing to get down on the floor and play into my mind.
Because I know that it won't last.
I just can't go there yet.
I'm not ready.