Once, I read an article describing the experiences of people who have regained the ability to see after a lifetime of blindness. After relating to the world without sight, depending on all of their other senses to guide them, these people found it hard to assimilate the visual sensory input. For example, seeing an apple. You and I would immediately know what it is, just by looking at it. Those who were blind, would not know what the object was, until they picked it up, felt its roundness, smooth skin, smelt it's apple-y smell, or tasted it's juicy flesh. They had no idea what an apple should look like. They had no visual reference for anything. It was only over time that they were able to begin to make sense of the visual world.
Over 3 years out now from Aidan's death and I feel as though I have the opposite of this problem. I can no longer picture what my life would look like with a living Aidan in it. Immediately after he died, I had a running timeline of what I 'should' be doing and I could 'see' it all so clearly.
June 2010: "I should be 34 weeks pregnant, not lifting and carrying heavy boxes helping my friends move". I could imagine my big belly, almost feel his kicks.
August 2010: "I should have a newborn to take care of, off on maternity leave, not returning to work at a new job". It felt like a daily surprise that the room that was to be his was empty. How could he not be here?
December 2010: "I should have a baby to take to this family Christmas party, instead my arms are empty". Watching my relatives coo and awe over my cousin's baby who was born in July 2010, I felt angry when the first present of the night was handed out to her, the 'youngest'. That gift, that title, should have been Aidan's.
April 2011: "It's a year since he was born...if he had lived I would be planning a 1st birthday party". But instead I was on bed rest again, agonizing over the fate of baby number 2...and wait a minute, he should have been born in August and would really only be 8 months old...and I likely wouldn't be pregnant again, and thus not concerned about baby number two...
Then Kaia arrived, and the timeline of the way life 'should' have been was permanently altered, because likely she wouldn't be if he was...and how could I see anything else but her? The farther out I am from his death, the harder time I have imaging what life with him should look like. Over time I have slowly gone 'blind' to those should haves. I've lost reference to what my life with him would have been. Most days my life is filled with who and what is...not who or what is not.
Yet as I lay in bed at night, quiet, in the dark, I so often think before I drift off to sleep: "I miss you Aidan. I wish you were here".
He truly never goes away.