Today, Owen is 7 months old.
Today is also the FA Cup Final. As I sit here next to my husband, proudly adorning his Arsenal jersey, I am brought back to this same competition last year. We awoke in our little weekend apartment rental in the middle of the Mission District in San Francisco, and settled in for 90 minutes of Mark shouting at the television while I feigned interest, planning our brunch spot, catching the replays of goals. At 16 weeks in the tum, our little guy experienced his first big match with his daddy’s team (spoiler: they won, we had a good day).
Mid-match, taking Owen with me on a little journey (unpopular with daddy), I stepped out to get some coffees (decaf for mummy). As I walked down the street breathing in the crisp west coast air, my thoughts wandered to the following year, our son sitting in his daddy’s lap watching their team together.
I used to look forward to time, to the future. It wasn’t scary. I appreciated the moment, but always sat in the now thinking of the then. In some ways, I still do, but it causes confusion. Tears. I just do not know what it looks like anymore. It is difficult to dream, to imagine, when at the core, my dreams cannot truly be fulfilled.
Time moves quickly. It cruelly presses forward, leading the chase towards undefined goals, taking you with it along the ride. We do not get to dictate how it progresses. Our calls to slow down fall on deaf ears. I wish I could explain how I just need to catch my breath, how time has got it all wrong. How, 7 months ago, our beautiful Owen Benjamin was born. How, at the time of his birth, an accident happened that would end his physical life 5 days later. How, he was not supposed to die and we need to go back to right a world that now feels wrong.
I realize how hypocritical my words may seem, how my thoughts may confuse. That I talk about my son in the present tense. That we are living a life in honour of a special little boy who has enriched our lives. That this is how his life looks. We celebrate Owen. Of course we do. We celebrate him with every breath that we take. Today is his day. We talk about our son with joy, with an indescribable fondness, a love that only a parent would understand. However, we are still allowed to revert to expectation. To be angry. To be sad. To feel the injustice.
In lieu of the power to control time, we have been given memory. Tiny capsules of time that we have been allowed to carry with us; the ability to call upon times past. We are thankful for memory. In the past 7 months, I have replayed memories of Owen’s time in and out of the tum. Over and over. Desperately trying to imprint the details into my every being. Trying to remember what photos cannot: the touch, smell, and sound of my little guy. Holding onto my son, his memory, fighting to keep him alive.
We have made new memories, too. Every day, as time surges on, we tirelessly seek out opportunity to live our life as a family, with our son. The past month has written another important chapter of our treasured story. We have observed the seasons change, watching the world wake from its winter slumber and welcome the colours of spring. We have read stories, learning about an assortment of dogs and the well-intentioned mishaps of a little bear in his blue jacket and tattered hat. We have been on adventures – journeyed on a ferry, through the mountains, across a lake in a kayak to an island filled with ants. We watched a train travel through a tunnel in a mountain, listening to the sounds of the choo-choos finding their way through the valley. We have appreciated wildlife – toads croaking to each other, fuzzy little ducklings learning their way, seals poking their heads out of the ocean to bask in the sun, lizards showing affection for one another, frogs swimming through the lake, eagles soaring through the sky and perched on treetops searching for dinner, geese meandering on the grass, deer clambering up the hillside, heron gracefully greeting our little family everywhere we go. We have watched the seaplanes, hot chocolate usually in hand, as they come and go in the skies over Whistler, Vancouver, and Victoria. We have continued to create memories, big and small, allowing them to combine into the story of our family.
As I sit here, holding back the tears filled with longing, listening to a daddy chatting to his little boy as they watch the match together, I smile at our family’s strength. Our ability to sit with the unexpected, but sit together nonetheless. Our willingness to try to make sense of time, in spite of its unwillingness to slow down. Our determination to make memories, as a family, knowing their significance. Our understanding of the importance of living in the now, celebrating the presence of a little boy who continues to make our hearts smile.
(spoiler alert: Arsenal won, again. A fine birthday present for the most special little boy. Happy 7 months, Owen. Mummy and daddy love you. You have given us so many reasons to smile this past month. Let’s go on an adventure.)