Today, one of the days my heart has been dreading has come. Cohen's preschool is talking about families. He got a note with a little bag of small rocks with instructions to send back a stone for each family member and a family photo. It seems simple enough, right?
But then I feel it. The heaviness in my heart that we don't have that extra stone. That the pictures won't include our Carter, the other member of our family. Someday when Cohen understands more I will let him decide what and who he wants to tell about his brother. We counted out the four stones to send back to school, feeling the ache in my heart. This may be our first encounter with this, but I know it won't be our last. I don't know how we will handle it in the future, probably however Cohen feels he wants to handle it.
It took me a while to get over the guilt of answering "how many kids do you have?" with the number of my living children. But I reached a point where I didn't need to tell every single person about Carter. I know he is my child and in some ways, I feel like I'm protecting us both by not always delving into his story. There have been times where I have mentioned him and have been so, so blessed by the reaction, stories, or hugs I have received. But not everyone understands child loss (thankfully) and the reactions can be awkward and uncomfortable and hurtful. So I've learned to go with what feels right in the situation. I have a feeling this may become similar in the future for Cohen. But right now, the first time makes me feel that deep longing for my child and how much I wish he could be here counting out family stones with his brother.