Last night I had a dream. I was pregnant but not huge yet. Probably around 4 or 5 months or so. I was lying in bed on my back and thinking I should probably be feeling movement from the baby by now. At that moment, the baby started moving and joy filled me. I even took my husband’s hand, where he slept beside me, and placed it on my belly so he could wake up and experience it. He did and marveled with me. I remember feeling peace and excitement that we were going to have another little one. The extra thought, and hope, that maybe this one would be another baby boy.
And then there was fear. And pain. And grief. The baby was moving too much! What if he or she fell through a loop and got another true knot in the umbilical cord? What if we lost this one too?
I woke up. Brought out of the dream by the sharpness of that fear. Even in my dreams, Stephen is not far away. His short life and death have changed me even to the depths of my unconscious, dreaming mind. I’m not surprised, really. Just marveling at how deep that change went.
I have never, not even once, seen Stephen in my dreams. Maybe this is because the pain is always there and my brain is trying to protect me. There are many times that I wish it wouldn’t. That I could see him again, like I see my grandmother and others whom I miss. That I could spend a few more moments cuddling his tiny, beautiful, perfect newborn form. Kiss his tiny face. Whisper once more that I love him.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have any memories of him smiling at me or talking to me. No memories at all with him as a living, breathing little boy. Still, those hours I had with him were so precious. When he looked exactly like my other newborns, only much more still. And dark.
He never took a breath so his skin never took on that healthy pink glow. His fingernail beds and his lips were a deep red, like he wore fingernail polish and lipstick. But everything else was just as it should have been. He was warm and soft and so very beautiful with his reddish hair, full cheeks, cute little nose, and pouting lips. I miss him so very much.
He’d be 21 now. A grown man. But it is hard to picture him that way. I try. I compare what he would look like with his brother who is 27. And still I know he would not have looked like Brett. He would’ve looked like Stephen. And some day I will get to see him again in heaven. I will finally get the answers to the missing question of who Stephen is.
So, as mind-boggling as it is to consider, Stephen never leaves me. Not even when I dream. To my deepest core, he is still with me, is a part of me, and will be with me always.
Stephen, my dear son, I love you and will love you forever.
Thank you, God, for sending him to me, even for just a short nine months. What a gift he was and is. ❤