I wouldn’t wish my boy back down here from heaven, back into his broken, twisted, stiff, uncooperative little body.
But I am wishing I could see him one more time.
Wishing I could be allowed one more time to grab his hands and pull him to his feet, give him a good rocking-back-and-forth squeeze, rub and pat his back, and kiss his soft cheek. He loved getting hugs, and would croon and giggle and had begun to pat my back in return. So many little lovey moments recorded only in my memory. I wish I hadn’t been so shy about asking others to snap a picture of me with Tommy.
I miss hearing him say, “Mama.” I wish so much that we had recorded it. I thought I’d get to it later, after one of the kids showed me how to use the video on the new camera. Do you know, the last few weeks of his life, when I saw he’d dropped his toy, I’d prompt him, “Tom-Tom, say ‘Mama! Uh-oh! Mama! Uh-oh!'” And he’d respond, “Mama!”
I miss all his funny chattering. He was such a funny little guy. His bone specialist got it exactly right when he said, “There’s only one of him.”
I miss his happy pterodactyl shriek. You don’t believe me. You think I’m being sentimental. I can feel the doubtfulness from here. We all got so used to the shrieking. I even fell asleep on the couch with Tommy shrieking a few feet away. Of course that was after a full day at DuPont on two hours’ sleep.
Ever so often I think I hear him shrieking outside with the children. It stops me in my tracks.
If only there could be one more time to put on some energetic Piano Guys or Celtic dance music, grab his hands and dance and laugh with him. Just one more time. He never got tired of teasing and silliness, and he loved it when I was in a zany mood. I felt permission to be goofy with him as I rarely am with anyone else. Life had been hard enough for long enough that I’d watched my lofty goals and ideals fade away one by one. I’d let myself off the therapy hook. Let someone else worry about therapy. Those last couple of months, all I wanted for Tommy was for him to feel happy and loved. Period.
He knew whether people really liked him or not. Mama Bear only let a nurse go with him to school if it was obvious the nurse liked him. He needed to know we wouldn’t send him off with someone who didn’t really want to be with him.
He also looked at faces to see whether they were smiling. He didn’t respond to people who frowned, even if they were otherwise nice people. He looked for smiles.
Look how his smile changed in eight months. During his first few months home, his eyes remained watchful behind his smile, asking, “Who are you? Can I trust you? Do you love me?” Over the winter, he slowly relaxed. By the time springtime came…see how there was nothing hiding behind his eyes? Just joy sparkling right out with no doubts to slow it down. For weeks, I desperately needed the reassurance of these two photos. Now I just miss his smile so much it hurts.
The only time I couldn’t get him to smile was when I told him it was time to go to bed. His eyes would get big and solemn and sad. He never smiled about going to bed, no matter how sleepy he was. I guess he’d had enough of bed to last him for many lifetimes. I’d console him by reminding him in a sing-song voice that his brothers would be up there with him. “Tom-Tom! There’s John Michael and Peter and James and Stephen and baby Ben!” Only then would a smile come back to his face.
We haven’t touched his bed. We don’t need it for anyone else, and I just don’t have the heart to strip it down yet. His pillow is still waiting for him to pull it onto his lap and fall asleep sitting up. He loved having a pillow. What a simple gift, after endless years spent lying in an empty bed. He loved it when I held his pillow up above him as he lay in bed, teasing, “Here it comes…! Here it comes…! Here it comes…!” Then dropping it onto him, “WHOOOSH on Tommy!”
Very late at night, after nursing Ben one more time and laying him down to sleep again, I walk back through the boys’ room and pause beside Tommy’s bed. I can so easily imagine him there sleeping sitting hunched over his pillow as he so often did. Funny goofy guy. Sweet Tom-Tom. I reach out my hand and rub his crooked little back. As I so often did.
I miss my little Tom-Tom.
Thank You, God, for picking me to be Tommy’s mama.
I loved being his mama.