And what of us—what kind of life will we find when our family is down to three. How will I wake each day and not expect to hear T’s voice or his running footsteps. What will it mean to again, just have one child in the house. I have grown accustomed to being four. Parents who have more than one will know what I mean. The rhythm is different, more chaotic, a higher level of awareness, more to keep track of. You become more devoted to care-taking because the needs are greater. It being just the two of us and Lucas, I sense will throw me off-balance. There will be one less lunch to prepare. Night-time will no longer mean teeth-brushing and story-time. The laundry loads will be lighter. The playroom and his bedroom will remain neat and empty. There will be that periodic, momentary panic as I realize that T is nowhere to be found, until I remember that he no longer lives here. And while it all sounds so very sad, it will also just be very—different.
We have both begun to imagine it—that unknown life without our sweet little boy. Darrow turned to me the other night to tell me about how he was looking forward to the fall and Halloween, one of his favorite times of the year. It is a festive time in our neighborhood and Lucas can begin to be a part of that. It was comforting to hear him recount in positive terms, what life might be like when fall comes. For me, I have imagined how I would do things differently, that being down to one child is an opportunity. I could focus on all of the big things that didn’t get done around the house before Lucas arrived last October. I imagined we would travel more. I imagined that we would be able to spend more time with each other, something that has been difficult with two kids.
Lucas will no longer have an older brother to entertain him. The little imp who bounds around him and tells him stories will be gone. I know that Lucas is too young to remember and that when he is older we will have to tell him about his older brother. Without T, Lucas will suddenly become the center of our world. The guilt and frustration I experience as he has ended up playing second fiddle to our much more vocal and demanding three-year old will suddenly be gone. As the center of the family, Lucas will get what he never could when T was around, our sole and undivided attention. Again, you parents with more than one child know what I’m talking about. Lucas will no longer have to share us. And there is some comfort, even in that.
These days I don’t feel so funny thinking about this new life. I have given myself license to talk about a future that doesn’t include T. Last weekend Darrow and I promised each other that after T is gone, we would pack up little Lucas and take the train to New York. I know that being able to imagine life this way is healthy. There is peace in knowing that we will go on, that like everything in life, it will not all be sadness and heartache. A new and different family will emerge and we will begin to live that unknown life.