Its 0433 on the morning of April 10, 2016. Today is Matthew's 10th birthday. Today, nearly to the minute, marks ten years since his brutal entrance into the world and my entrance into parenthood. Ten years feels like such a long time. It's long enough to move a few times. Long enough to have more children. Long enough to acquire new lines around my eyes.
Yet, a scent or a thought can bring my reality screeching back to those moments ten years ago, and it's like no time has passed at all.
One of the great ironies of my life these days is that I am a nurse in the hospital where Matthew was born. I am literally sitting on the other side of the wall from the operating room. Where he took his first breath. Where my first c-section incision was hastily made. Sometimes I can hear babies cry as they take their first lungfuls of air in that OR. Thankfully, tonight it's quiet.
It's not where I thought I'd end up working, but here I am. There are times, like tonight, when the divide that separates me from that 22-year-old girl and her baby seems as thin as a veil. Like it's a curtain I could sweep aside. If I wanted to I could step across the last ten years and talk to them. What would I even say to that girl? Have I learned anything in the past years that she didn't already learn in the most tragic, brutal, bloody, horrible way on this night?
I don't feel like crying tonight. I'm not really sure how I feel. I know that 22-year-old girl hoped that ten years down the road she wouldn't feel like a huge chunk was missing. But she probably could've guessed that the missing chunks are permanent. Actually I know what I would say to them. I'd tell them both how much I miss them. It never goes away. I miss her. I miss that stupid, ignorant, optimistic person. I miss her un-scarred heart. Frankly I miss her un-scarred uterus. And him? I miss him physically, every moment, always.
I have one hastily taken video of Matthew in the NICU. In it I am narrating and joking, talking to him the entire time about someday when he is bigger. I watch it once every couple of years. I listen to myself babbling. "Be quiet," I think to myself. "Just be quiet and watch him." Then I hit the mute button so I can't hear my falsely cheerful voice and the beeping of the machines that are keeping him alive. It's the only way I can really see him.