It is Autumn once again and I am struck by how different I thought my life would be. There’s not a day I don’t think about you, little Michael, and imagine the life we might have had.
As it is every October, it is roundup time for our small herd of cattle. Like last year and every year since I married my best friend, we spend a portion of our days bopping around our tiny chunk of wilderness on the ATV, looking for beef to bring in. I am bundled up like a yeti against the windchill as I look in all the cows’ favorite places. This time I wonder what it might have been like had you stayed with us: would you be bundled up with me like a pioneer child, secure and sleeping in the warmth of my jacket as we trawl the countryside? Would you be lulled by the steady movement and cow song? Or would I be rocking you at home on the porch, ready to open the gates at a moments notice while you fuss and squirm because you’d rather be with your daddy? You would be almost four months old now, and as bright-eyed and rambunctious as you could be, I’m sure.
After work at The Day Job I buzz off to music lessons with my local students, then hurry home to prepare dinner. Would I be hurrying right home instead, to greet you and relieve my husband of his duties? Would I then be greeting students who drive to me for lessons instead of the other way around? Would I, instead of working in town, be teaching more, perhaps in a private studio of my own, while you slept to the slightly out-of-tune notes? Would you then throw a fit if I had my students learn a song you didn’t like? You were always rather up front about your musical preferences…
What would it be like to have dinner as a family instead of a couple?
What would it be like to make a “quick run” to the grocery store? How many people would you charm with your smile?
What would it be like to compose a gentle lullaby to keep instead of another pain-filled ballad to throw away? What would it be like to make plans for you instead of career plans for me because I need something other than your absence to consider? What would it be like to announce “This is my son,” triumphantly — instead of the words “he died,” quietly, sadly, softly as a secret and filled with my self-doubt? What would it be like to have others smile at your news instead of cry?
What would our lives be like with you in it, instead of this strange mockery of “normal” that they are now? When we were children, the game of “house” helped us imagine marriage, but it never prepared us for the loss of you.
I don’t know. The leaves begin to blow in the wind, reminding me that all is fleeting, yet I will always wonder it would be like if Autumn had never come like this…