Shadows

 

Just a little more than two years ago I would walk Isla to the bus, with not enough hands to hold all the tiny hands that wanted to hold mine. And every day I’d think what an incredibly wonderful problem this was, and how fortunate I was to have all these beautiful little people in my life. We’d drop Isla off and walk home, the three of us, each tiny boy holding on. Thomas’ hand a vice grip on mine, so tight it hurt my fingers (and usually still does). Jude’s softer, but confident. I loved that even the way they held my hands was so distinctly their own and every day I would try to memorize them both, knowing that it wouldn’t always be like that and I wanted to hold on to that memory forever.

And then Jude was gone. I suddenly had just enough hands, and an extra after Isla was off to school. I no longer needed to walk a little hunched over to have both hands low enough to meet each of theirs.

In these weeks following our saddest anniversaries, with the flu finally quieting down until it rages again in the fall, I’ve stepped away a little. My head and heart are exhausted from the months we’ve just spent working tirelessly to tell Jude’s story, hopefully preventing more from happening. I have plans to make, thank you cards to write, people to contact with the goal of reaching further this year. Every time we have this conversation, we might reach someone who can make a better choice and save someone else’s life. It’s impossible to forget that. It’s impossible not to think of how desperately I wish someone could have saved Jude. And so I’ll get to the plans and thank you cards and the contacts, but after a brief pause to rest and recover before we take it all on again.

Between our sad anniversaries life has been happening. Kindergarten orientation for one little boy. The first day of little league for one little boy. Great big things that we’re so excited for and proud about, and at the same time completely heartbroken over. One little boy where there should be two.

Walking home today after taking Isla to school you would have seen me and Thomas happily walking along, hand in hand, stopping to pick dandelions and make wishes the whole way. If you didn’t know us, you would see a mom and her little boy.

What you can’t see is that even now, more than two years later, I’m still holding that second little hand.

To everyone who has been here with us as we’ve worked to share Jude’s story and spread awareness about flu prevention, thank you. I often wish those two little words were bigger, because they rarely seem enough. You are everything, and together we are going to save someone else from being in our situation. We’re not done yet. Too many people died this year, and too many of them were children. We all have to do better, and there’s room for all of us to find ways to reduce the ways we’re putting ourselves and others at risk. We’ll be working hard behind the scenes through the summer to find more ways to get the word out, and we’ll need your help when the fall comes.

But for just a few moments I’ll rest as I continue trying to figure out how to keep breathing without my little boy.

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