I had a fitful night’s sleep. I kept waking up, turning my light on and looking for people that I was talking to in my dreams: Gram, Papa, and you, my dearest Gabriel.
I saw you as clear as day. Your wavy black hair, warmly colored skin, your big brown doe eyes, your bright smile and your giggles all made me want to hold on to you with every bit of energy I had within me. You were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and you were mine. For those brief moments, you were my baby boy. I got to see you, hold you, and wish that I could live in that moment forever. I don’t know if it was a dream, or if you were coming to visit me so I could see both that you were doing ok and what a beautiful little boy my baby was growing into without me.
In this dream, Gram brought you to me. I watched you hold her hand as you walked toward me. I saw her bend down to your ear, whisper something and point to me. Then you took off running to me. You were wearing black corduroy pants, an olive green shirt, and blue and red canvas sneakers; dark colors, of course, you’re my son after all! You were laughing as I chased you around the house. When I finally caught up to you, I heard the most beautiful word, the one that I never thought I would ever have the chance to hear you say. You called me “Mommy.” You hugged me and called me “Mommy.” I wish I could live in that dream, that beautiful space, with you forever. That space, those moments with you, were perfect. It was one of the most precious moments in my life, and I wish every minute that it was my reality. I woke up in that moment, the smell of your skin still lingering in my nostrils, the feel you still in my arms, and I turned my light on and tore my bedroom apart looking for you.
Every year, each day that gets closer to July has always made me wonder what you would look like, feel like, sound like, even smell like. You have given me the beautiful gift of knowing all of those things. Waking up was one of my harshest moments of my reality. Every time I fall asleep, I hope that you will visit me. I would give anything in the world for just a few more moments with you, my darling Gabriel. I want to celebrate your third birthday with you. I want to show you the world. I want to teach you all of the things that my parents taught me. I want to show you all of the beauty that is in this life, but I think you may already know more beauty than I could ever show you.
Now that I have seen you, my sweet boy, I want to be with you always. I hear a song each day, from the Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton that reads in part, “If I could spare his life; If I could trade his life for mine; He’d be standing here right now,” and it rings true. I would give anything in this world, including my life, for you to have lived, for me to have felt you growing inside me and have heard your first cry. Even if I died the moment after, it would have been worth it, because you would have been alive. I want you to know that even though you were conceived through rape, I loved you and wanted you. Losing you has truly been, “a suffering too terrible to name.” It has been an unimaginable pain that just lingers and recedes from time to time, but never goes away. In those moments, in the moments when the pain is all consuming, it does feel “easier to just swim down,” because the grief, the pain, is unimaginable to anyone who has never felt it. I keep swimming up, though, because I know you would want me to. I keep swimming up because I made the decision on my 36th birthday to live my life, from that moment forward, as if you were watching me. I know now that you are watching me because you told me. You said, “I love you, Mommy. Don’t give up.” I won’t give up, baby. I will fight every single day to live my life to the fullest and make you proud of me.I love you, my sweet baby Gabriel.