I couldn’t possibly count the hours this boy was held in the crook of my left arm. Mattie was in the hospital for the first 11 months of his life and then hundreds of other days in the years to come. There were days that all I could do was hold him.
And even in health, he always found his way there because, let’s be honest, why wouldn’t I want him right there with his head close to mine and his heart beating up against my own.
In the darkest hours, I held him close. Because all I could do was hold him and whisper, “You are loved and you are strong. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Breathe, Son. LIVE, Son.”
The day he died, I held him there for the last time.
Weeks ago pain began to settle into my physical body. My elbow, my shoulder, my neck, all on the left side. It started out as an annoying pain that limited my ability to work out to the fullest. It became increasingly debilitating, and I finally sought care from my chiropractor and my massage therapist.
I’ve learned to live with pain and push through before many times in my life, so I am horrible at actually identifying pain until it’s quite bad. I’m learning. I’m learning.
Yesterday, as I finished some deep tissue and stretching work with two massage therapists helping to gain some range of motion in my shoulder, I found myself breathing through the agony of the work being done on my body. Three cheers for those child birth classes from over 20 years ago!
Near the end of the session, they had me sit up so they could address some of the tension from the front and back simultaneously. The work they did in this position wasn’t any more intense than the 60 minutes prior, but as they worked, tears started streaming down my face.
I had and emotional reaction that was completely out of my control. I could feel the weight of his body in the crook of my left arm, I could feel his head pressed against my shoulder. I started sobbing, heaving- the kind of grief that I’ve only expressed in my home. I heard myself saying, “That was his place, I can feel him there, I want him back there.”
I scrolled through dozens of photos today and saw him there in the crook of my left arm.
So grief, once again, plays by its own rules. Unsuspecting. Muscle memory is a wild and crazy thing. The human body so complex. And my body remembers and aches for a boy that spent so many hours next to my heart.
So I am resting and healing through this injury, and allowing my body and my spirit to process this pain together. Hoping for a release of this present pain that will carry me into whatever is next in this journey.
I miss him there, and yet I feel him there always. My heart. His resting place.