I was reading with Audrey tonight before bedtime just like we do every night. Most nights she picks the same 3 or 4 books and I go into auto pilot and count the seconds until she climbs in bed and I'm not reading "belle beast" for the 5,000th time but tonight was different. She must have dug deeper in her box but she brought me a book that I love but doesn't make the cut very often. The book is called "I'd know you anywhere, my love" and it's just the sweetest. It talks about knowing someone even if they spontaneously became a rhinoceros or suddenly decided they wanted to be a blue-footed-booby. It gives reasons why the person doing the knowing/loving would be able to know and love; the shape of their grin, or the sound of their roar... Audrey has the cutest roar, she whispers.
I don't know why, but tonight as I was reading this book to Audrey Nole I felt the tears fill my eyes as I fought the flood gates. I suddenly pictured myself reading this book to both of my kiddos. I began, between pages, to take note of all the ways I would know Audrey Nole if she suddenly was a giraffe or rhinoceros. I came to the conclusion she's a pretty unforgettable kid. But I also began to think of all the ways I wished I knew George Mason enough to see him through the disguise of his imagination. I will never read this book to him. I will never hear him roar like a lion or hoot like an owl. I will never see him argue with his sister over who can flap their wings better or who can hide from mom more effectively.
I will never get to spend any more time with him. I won't get to write down silly things he's said or done. I won't get to document his first teeth or his destructive toddler boy years. Those are the realities that hit me like a freight train as I was reading this adorable book to my daughter. This must be what grief is going to look like long term. That in the most unexpected or random moments of our daily lives, I'm going to miss my son like crazy. Sure, there are going to be days when life feels so normal and his absence in it isn't at the front of my brain. I'm 30 years old... there will probably be decades where life seems so normal. But no matter how normal life seems, in any given moment on any given day, those memories I didn't get to make and the huge piece of my story that isn't here with me, is going to be the only thing I can think about.
As I finished the book and kissed Audrey goodnight, I realized something: I may not have the rest of my life to get to know George Mason, but I WOULD know him anywhere. Thank you Jesus for that precious boy: earfolds, curls, button nose, long fingers, skinny feet, and the perfect addition to our family. Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love as I struggle through this life and this grief.
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" -Ecclesiastes 3:1