This last year and a half has been filled with so much. There’s been the grief and mourning of our son. The closing of our home and the opening of a new one. There’s been a year full of firsts without George Mason and year full of growth for Audrey Nole. 

I sort of assumed that while the absence of George Mason would not really ever be pain free, doing life as  the McGough family would start become more normal feeling. I suppose to some extent that’s true. We miss our son, we feel his absence and long for his presence, but we are making memories as our family of 3; or is it 4? We are moving forward in this life while we hold on to the memories, though brief, of the 9 months and 1 day that we got to spend with George Mason. 

As we went around our neighborhood last night, I really, really felt the hole in our family. Sweet Audrey was just absolutely loving the door-to-door knocking and the candy was an easy motivator to face her timidity and approach each door with confidence and glee. She was running the sidewalks with a few of the neighborhood kids, all boys actually, and was having the time of her life. And in that moment, watching her have a blast, my parent’s heart was simultaneously filled with joy that matched hers and sorrow over missing her sidekick. She was dressed as Queen Elsa and it felt like her little brother would have made the perfect, toddling, Olaf. Can’t you just imagine those sweet toddler cheeks painted red with a bright orange carrot nose? 

I have a feeling that this next couple months, filled will holidays, traditions, and gatherings of friends and family, will be hard; almost harder than they were last year. We were so stuck in the depths of our grief last year, that it was hard to really pay much attention to the dates on the calendar and the many ways it would be possible to miss our son. But this year will be different. We’ve been through all of the normal “firsts” without him. We survived all the holidays, all the should-have-been baby milestones. But this year, since we won’t be focused on surviving the first time, we will be more aware of the things we’re missing by not having our boy here with us. 

I’m going to allow myself to lean into those feelings of missing him. To cry when necessary and weep when I just can’t control myself. I’m going to pray that I would run deeper into the arms of my Father as we approach this holiday season and then close out year two without George Mason. I know that I will be comforted in the emotions that come from being a loss mama. I know that my God will give me new mercies, every single day, for whatever feelings will sneak up on me. Yet often in those moments, when the missing turns back to mourning, I forget. I forget His goodness. I forget His steadfast character. And thankfully, He won’t let me.