I miss the soft skin and fuzzy hair at the nape of your neck. From the time you were born until the last days you were with us, that was your magic soothing spot. You could be restless, fussy, overly tired, and a little massage of that area would calm you instantly. As you got older I would combine the neck rub with a shoulder massage, and would give you my best "professional masseuse" voice. Momma's hands, which are quite small, felt like giant bear paws on your delicate toddler shoulders. Despite the giggles inspired by my fake accent, your whole body would relax when Momma started the neck/shoulder rub.
Earlier today I was trying to get your little brother ready for a nap. We were walking around the house, me talking and singing to him, but he was WIDE awake. Without even thinking about it, I started gently rubbing the nape of his neck, right where his baby soft skin meets the hairline. He closed his eyes and gave me a contented little coo.
The past and present collided. I literally stopped in my tracks and had to remind myself what day, what year, it was. The whole event, which lasted just a few seconds, made Momma's head spin.
These little moments, these reminders, are beautiful and painful. And they are constant. I'm learning to expect these triggers, and to appreciate and process them. They aren't like the awful, unexpected triggers from 12 months ago. These are kinder, and bring on gentle waves of memories, smells, touch, texture, sounds, emotion.
This is our reality. This is the reality I need to come to terms with to ensure your brother never feels like a replacement or substitute. Never feels we love him less. Never feels overshadowed. I owe it to him to give him his own rituals, reminders and special moments. But also recognize he will share many events and routines with his big brother, Peanut. The neck/shoulder rub is going to be one of those shared experiences.
Peanut, the presence of your brother is so healing. But, in so many ways, holding him makes me miss you more than ever before. Still, I know you're here, present in every moment. Tonight, I go to bed with vivid memories of your tiny shoulders, the downy soft nape of your neck, and those wonderful, peaceful moments. I miss you. I love you. To the moon and back.