Dear Mac,

I took a longer walk this morning. I needed it. We are eleven days out from the day that brings me to my knees every single year and this year it’s stinging a little more than usual.

It will be six years since your dad and I heard the doctor confirm our worst nightmare, your little heart stopped beating. Six years since we’ve had to learn to live without you. Six years of making an intentional effort to choose joy when we want to be angry and scream out how unfair it is that we can’t hug you, kiss you and watch you grow.

Six years.

So here we are… planning your big day; the day we celebrate you, the short time we were given with you and the lifetime of love we will have for you. I’m a little more emotional this year, my boy. You see, you will be 6 years old and if you were here… you would be preparing to start kindergarten. I imagine the conversations we would have. I imagine the oversized book bag you would pick out, carting it to the check out line with the biggest smile of approval. We’d shop for all your school supplies together. You’d need a big box of crayons for all you’d be creating, tissues for your little nose, hand sanitizer so your precious little hands stayed germ free and some extra talks from mommy telling you how proud of you I am and that you would be great at making so many friends. Your big brother would tell you how easy it would be and not to worry. Your big sister would tell you she’d be with you, help you on the bus and walk you to your class. I can see it Mac, she’d take your little hand in hers, reaching down as you look up at her, and off you would go.

Walking into the drive, I could feel the tears coming. The extra long walk wasn’t enough time. I’m not ready to put on a happy face just yet. I need a little more time to cry for you, to let it out and not pretend everything is ok. It’s not, Mac. I try hard to choose joy, but sometimes missing you hurts more than I can bare. I miss you now just as much as I did the day I watched your Daddy lean down and kiss your tiny casket goodbye. You are loved and missed so much, my sweet boy.

I slipped into the backyard, sitting alone, but feeling you with me more than ever. I watch as a Monarch butterfly danced in front of me, a solo performance just for me. I find peace in its dance, but the tears still come without effort. It reminded me of the drive home from your funeral. As we came to an open field, the same field we drove by each day, hundreds of monarchs rose up and crossed the road before us. I remember feeling numb, still trying to process everything, yet not really allowing myself to feel your absence fully and not wanting to go home without you. I had never seen anything like it before, Mac, and for a moment, I was free of this heartache. I was in awe of the beauty surrounding me and knew it was a gift. I felt a moment of peace after days of pain.

This year is hard. I feel your absence in my bones, Mac. I know your Daddy does too. Every ounce of my being wants to be sending you to kindergarten this year. To have the sweet talks about how you will make so many friends. I want to grab ahold of you and give you the biggest hug before watching you get on the bus. I want to give you that overly excited mom wave goodbye watching the bus drive until it is out of sight. I want to worry about how you are doing all day long. I want you, Mac, I want my 6 year old. I want you here. I want the extra stress of having four kids to take care of. I want the extra expenses; the exhaustion, the lack of “me time”; the fighting between siblings… I want everything I don’t have because you aren’t here.

Well my sweet boy, I sit here with tear filled eyes, wiping away all the wants I can never have and wondering how I was going to pull myself together enough to face your brothers and sister. I prayed for help. I prayed for strength to take that deep cleansing breath that stopped the tears and returned my voice from the shaken tone it was in.

And moments later, it happened…

A hissing sound close by startled me. I looked up from my tears, quickly trying to find the source, when suddenly water shot up into the air in front of me. I sprung to my feet dodging the cold shower and hear, “ Oh, no! That didn’t get you did it!?” Your dad asked (while laughing) as he threw open the back window. Mac, your dad turned the sprinkler on… The sprinkler resting just feet away from where I had been sitting and it was exactly what I needed. It was the help I needed.

Your dad, Mac, he rescues me even when he doesn’t realize it. I had to laugh, still crying, but now laughing and crying. Life, Mac, it has a funny way of helping you through things if you let it. I’ve learned this over time and really leaned into it, opening my heart to moments like this, allowing the joy in. Sometimes it seeps in a moment allowing me to fill slowly and other times, like this one, I need it to be thrusted in, bulldozing past the wall of pain around me.

I love you, my boy. I promise to keep looking for these moments. I promise to allow them in, especially when this time of year comes around. I promise to keep seeing you in everything and to smile when you send me a sign. Most of all Mac, I will continue to keep my promise to be brave and share these moments with others, knowing there is someone out there needing to know that although they feel like it, they are not alone.

Love you to the moon and back,