This is it.
This is the month I have been thinking about for 11 months.
This is the one year mark.
Has it really been a year almost? Have I really been this new person for a whole year? Has Benjamin Joseph Swaney really been gone a year? Was it really just this time last year when I felt like I was going to explode, when I was folding little baby clothes with my mother, when it was really starting to hit me that I was going to have this gigantic new responsibility...and then it was snatched away?
How can it have been a year? Sometimes I feel like parts of me are still stuck in that week in the hospital. Every day, this same memory comes back to me (one of many, but this one is the most precious and the most painful):
I am surrounded by friends in a room that is kind of dark-- it is early afternoon on a spring day and the blinds are mostly closed. Someone hands me my son-- was it my mother? My husband? I can't remember-- and I can feel the precious warm weight of him against my chest. He is sweetly heavy, but so little-- just the right size at almost 8 lbs. I look down and -- am I only imagining that I could see his head? I think he was bareheaded-- I see the most precious little nose. I see the rosy glow of him, all pink and beautiful, and I can see the pores on his skin. I can see strawberry blonde hair across his scalp, and I see his little fingers. I touch the tip of his nose, just like I would a live, sleeping baby, and I can't believe that he is mine. I splay his fingers across mine and they are precious, just like any live, sleeping baby, except that I think they are starting to darken. And I can't believe that he is mine.
I want to keep holding him but I am so loaded up with drugs-- I've just come out of an emergency C-section and my head is still so foggy I can't focus and I'm afraid I'm going to drop him. I ask Don to take him because while I'm holding him I go in and out of consciousness.
It is the only time I remember holding him.
And he was mine.