I get asked this question a lot. I guess it is because depending on how I answer it there are people out there who will feel comforted with what I say.
The short answer is I used too see Dexy getting older but not anymore.
When Dexy first died I didn’t know any different. I just pictured him getting older and what he would be doing. I would look up milestones online for what his age should have been doing. I would watch videos on youtube and then imagine him doing the things. But, it was always greeted with heartbreak. At the age where he should be smiling, I didn’t know what he would look like. I was getting more and more distressed over the idea of not knowing and not being able to get an accurate representation of him. I didn’t know if his eyes would crinkle, what his gums looked like or if he would make a noise whilst smiling. When you haven’t even seen your child’s eyes or seen them breathing how can you imagine them growing older?
When River was born it just highlighted how hard it would be to think of Dexy getting older because River was changing day by day. He was always doing something new. He was able to lift his head more than the day before, He could make little babbling noises, he would splash about in the bath. The first few months with River I found the hardest. He was still a proper newborn baby and yet he was so different from Dexy. I thought when I was pregnant with River that it would help me vision Dexy getting older but in fact, it just made it 100 times harder. Every time River did something new or made a different noise I would feel this pain because I missed it all with Dexy.
When River got to about six months it strangely just stopped hurting as much. It was so much clearer that they were separate babies. River didn’t look like a newborn anymore and there was hardly any comparison. He was munching on food, laughing and trying to sit up. How can you imagine a baby doing that who never even opened their eyes? I agreed that I would count his age as what he should be but imagine him no more than how I saw him. After all, he was perfect for us anyway so why did I need him to be more than that? Why did I feel it was only more perfect to imagine him as older. Nothing was going to make this any easier or any better. Seeing him as a child only made it harder.
What would I do when he got to school age? It would be awful enough knowing that there would be no little boy in front of our door having his picture taken or no frantic rush to try and get out the house. Seeing him as a 4-year old that looked nothing like him was hard to think about. I wouldn’t know what he would sound like or if he would even be excited and what I thought would be wouldn’t have been. I would have made him into a child that he might never have grown into and I don’t want to force him into what my ideal would be because I wouldn’t even imagine doing that if he was alive.
I felt less connect to him the more I envisioned it because every memory, every photo and all of the keepsakes we made with him in hospital are of him as a new born. Why was I trying so hard to in a way lose that? I wouldn’t be able to take more photos or document things he has achieved or done. Thinking about the children he wouldn’t have or never falling in love was just going to grind me down because I would always want more. We all want more. More time, another kiss, another hug but we never will. We can’t go back so why are we moving him forward when he isn’t here?
I could go over and over in my head how I want it to be but it will never be enough. We never got enough. We were meant to have a whole lifetime with him here but it was cut short. I can’t keep beating myself up over that by grieving even more ideas of him growing older. I already know what I am missing and how much he will never do.
When I die I am comforted by the idea that maybe I will see him again as the baby I held, loved for my lifetime and remember. Even if I am 80 when I die I still want to feel the weight in my arms of when he was born, his fresh baby smell and the way his hand felt in mine. I don’t want to be greeted by a 60 year old man who I have no idea who he is a person because he would have grown up without me. I wouldn’t have been able to see him flourish or age. I would be looking at someone that I don’t know and the thought of not knowing what my child looks like or who he is as a person scares me. I just want him as how I remember. A 60 year old man baby. Okay, I admit it does sound rather comical but it is what as a mother I crave. Holding my baby again.
So the short answer is no. I don’t imagine him as a child. I can’t. He is two years old but will forever look like a sleeping newborn baby because for me that is perfect enough. Although a two-year-old newborn would be pretty large with the rate that River is going.
No matter how you picture or see your baby nothing is right or wrong. We all deal with grief and pain differently. These are my personal views on Dexy and no one else. If you see your baby growing up then I will too.
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