We’ve made it through the first year. We survived each day of the calendar without our son. All of the holidays, birthdays, special moments. We missed him for the first time of each of those days/milestones. And now it’s year two. The milestones have mostly been experienced. It will be longer spans between times that should have been firsts. First day of preschool. First day of kindergarten. First day of middle school. First day of college. Those are all things that will be so very hard but they aren’t eminent. They aren’t staring me in the face today, in this moment. Instead, they are lingering off in the future, something to look forward to or to dread. For now, the days seem normal. Except they are anything but normal.

I sort of expected that once we got through the first year, that things would get easier. Everything I’ve read about grief says that you get through this but not over it. I wasn’t expecting the grief or the pain or sadness to disappear, I just sort of figured there wouldn’t be any more surprises. Except it seems that there are more surprises now than there were before. I knew I would be sad on the first Easter without him, or on Christmas, or thanksgiving, etc. I expected to be sad when the baby milestones came across my memory as I examined the calendar. When he should’ve started solids. When he might have started crawling. When he could’ve taken his first steps. Those ere all things I expected to mourn. But then his birthday came and passed and suddenly things began to sneak up on me. Bedtime stories with Audrey. Making a snowman as a family. Cleaning the car out and vacuuming out the car seat. (Honestly, that felt so silly and ridiculous and it’s exactly the kind of surprises I can’t even prepare myself for) Sitting in the pew at church on Sunday is even a trigger. Seeing all these babies and their siblings. It’s wonderful and terrible all at the same time.

I had heard that year two is harder than year one, but I never really let myself believe it. Those weeks and months after his death were awful. I was raw. I was heartbroken. I was wrestling with God. I didn’t think anything could be harder than that. But as the time goes by and my son would’ve been older, more mobile, more interactive, his absence becomes even more obvious. It hurts even more to know he’s not here. That my toddler is missing playtime with his big sister and dinner time with his family. That my sweet hubby is missing his guy time with the most adorable little boy I’ve ever seen (I’m bias I know). I’m starting to realize that this second year without him is going to be hard in its own right. Hard for so many reasons. Hard because it will be full of unknowns that I won’t want to face but won’t know I’ve faced until it’s here. Hard because I have to continue to give up control and trust in the God who has sustained me through the first year and won’t leave me for the next. Hard because not having my son here sucks.