Ronan. I still have insomnia. You would think after all this time my sleep would have gotten better, but it really hasn’t. Every night when I lie in bed, I lie awake for hours sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning. I still sleep with Poppy. If I am going to lie awake at night, I prefer to do it next to her so I can hear her breathing or I can reach out to touch her warm little body so I know she is still alive. I live for the moments in the middle of the night when she is half awake half asleep and she grabs my face and says, “I love you, mommy.” Also, I don’t want to hear any shit about co-sleeping from anyone because as far as I’m concerned it is the best thing ever and I wish I would have done it with all of my kids. Once you were diagnosed with cancer, you were always in my bed. I wish I would have had you in my bed the years before your diagnoses, when you were perfectly healthy or so we thought. It just would have meant more time with you and had I known our time together was going to be so short I would have co-slept with you and soaked up every second we had together.
Nights around here are rough. My thoughts are still consumed by you. Lately it has been what would 10-year-old Ronan have been like? I wonder what you would look like. What you would sound like. Would your laugh still be mischievous? Would your little voice still squeak? Would you still want to hold my hand and would you still call me mama? Your brothers don’t… they started calling me mom a long time ago. Poppy calls me so many different things. Maya when she’s mad at me(or asshole because I asked for extra spicy). Mom when she’s trying to act big. Mommy when she is scared. Mama when she is being extra sweet and she tops it off by saying, “I know that is what Ronan called you and I know it is your favorite.” Thoughts of you usually consume me for hours at night. I often cry. Or write. And then get up and do laundry because for some reason the sound of the washer and dryer soothe me. I check on your brothers and wander around the house. Sometimes I go into your closet which is now Poppy’s and I smell your clothes. Some of them still smell like you. Or at least the way you liked them to smell which was so clean and fresh.
“Mama! I’m going to wear one of Ronan’s shirts today to school, ok?! Can you come in here! I want to count them.” I walk into your closet just in time to find Poppy pulling your shirts off the hangers one by one.
“One…. two…. three…” all the way until she gets to the last one…”24,” she replies so proudly. Your shirts have been in your/her closet since she was born and she has never asked to wear them. I feel my stomach drop. I try to act all proud of her counting. I try to act supportive of her wearing one of your very boyish shirts. It’s not the boy part that stabs at my heart. It’s the fact that seeing her in one of your shirts is going to emotionally incapacitate me. Just as she takes the one she wants from the pile on the floor, something catches her eye. It’s a pink dress she had forgotten about. “Never mind! I want to wear my pink dress because today pink is my favorite color.” I let out a sigh of relief and gather up all of your shirts on the floor only to hang them back up where they were before. Saved by a pink dress today, but maybe not tomorrow.
I have to work on this book now, little man. I miss you. I love you. I hope you are safe. Sweet dreams, my love.