My two oldest kids returned to school last week. Not too much to get upset about there.... We homeschool, and school year-round to accomodate days where one of the kids might be having a 'not-learning-kind-of-day'. So, after a two week break, out came the new school books for the year, new teacher's manuals, new Visual aids, new pencil crayons, new pencils, rulers, and crayons. We've got ourselves a little more organized to troubleshoot some things that weren't working for us before, and I'm seeing some wonderful progress.Nothing new about a new school year; we've been doing it for a few years now. Nothing new about back to school shopping; every year you need new supplies, and when they go on sale is the best time to do it. Nothing new about a new grade.
And yet, this year everything seems a little 'off'. A little like the twilight zone.
There was one that 'should' have been going with them this year. 'Should' have been having his 'meet the teacher' meeting last week. Should have have joined his class this week for Junior Kindergarten.
It's been a bit of an odd sensation for me approaching school this year.
Eli isn't starting school. He's not with us. He was born still at 35 weeks, so we never met him alive, and yet, he changed everything about me. It's amazing how such a small dynamic can change everything.
On days like today, I wonder what he would be like. I'm not lost in pain; nor do I 'live there', but every so often I let my mind imagine: He would have turned four this past May. How much shorter would he be than Joshua and Jonathan? I can assume that following suit of all the other kids, he'd have dirty blond hair, blue eyes and a mischievious smile that there is no mistaking.
But there is so much I don't know. I wonder if he would have the same odd sense of humour that we seem to share in this family. What tactless observations would he make at this age? Wonder how our family dynamic would be different. Wonder how many kids we would have now if things had happened differently. Just places my mind goes if I let my mind wander.
Truth be told, I know that God has brought an immeasureable amount of good from our journey with Eli. No doubt it was a short time with him, and it has been a painful and difficult journey.
However, because of him, I have met people I would never have met, been able to develop compassion for people to whom I would never have been able to extend compassion. I am less uncomfortable with people's pain. Having experienced it myself, I find a way to extend beyond my comfort zone to try to help another cope.
I also met and lost a very dear friend during that time as well; yes I lost her, but without Eli I never would have had her. All positives I would not otherwise have had.
It's amazing the amount of good that someone can bring into your life when you're never had a chance to meet them in person.
So, no, this isn't one of those obvious 'anniversaries' that one thinks of when a loss occurs. Not a birthday. Not a funeral date. Not painful like either of those. Just an occasion that leaves you a little off kilter for a spell.
So, today I am grateful for my kids that started school this year, and for my little one that didn't.
Hold your children close, and consider those who don't have the chance to, for whatever reason.