M is six months old today.

He is such a lovely, lovely baby. He has dark blue eyes that are brown at their centres and every morning I look to see if they’ve turned completely. He wakes up in the pack and play next to me, pushes up with his arms, and cranes his head around, peeking up as high as he can to find me looking at him. He smiles, a big gummy smile with three sets of dimples: in his cheeks, just above the corners of his smile, and under the outside corner of each eye. He smiles his big gummy smile and then buries his head back into his bed, as if it is too much for him, the delight, the sight of me, his mama. He wants me most of all and cries on the afternoons I have to leave him to teach. He is a true mama’s boy.

He is a marvel, still a miracle to me. His beauty is astonishing: his cheeks the sweetest pink and so soft to my lips; his hair, reddish and wispy, tending now to curls; his fat thighs and wrists and feet and his little dimpled bum. I kiss him constantly. I wonder at the perfection of him, the fat pink perfectness of him.

I carry him everywhere, so that I feel his body pressed up against mine, his heart on mine. He falls asleep with his cheek against my chest and I kiss the top of his head. He is mine, mine, mine. My body yearns for his closeness. My arms ache to hold him.

My arms ache to hold him…

Like they ached to hold her, too. His physicality such a remarkable contrast to her absence. Those eyes that light up, reminding me that I never saw her eyes. (I could not bring myself to lift those closed eyelids, to confront the death of her so unabashedly.)

It is such an uncomplicated love, what I feel for him. Except in all the ways that it is so very complicated. It is the fullest feeling I have ever known: his presence her absence the immensity of love the immensity of loss.

Six months ago I was awash in the greatest relief I have ever experienced.

Six months and one day ago I was unable to imagine – unable to imagine at all – that there might be a day like today. A perfect fall day, the sun shining, the ocean refracting the deep blue of the late October sky, the leaves on the trees and all over the ground gloriously red and orange, and a perfect, living boy asleep on my lap. My son.

Six months and one day ago, I did not believe we would ever see the end of spring; we existed in a limbo, my nearly-born boy and my dead little daughter and myself. The end of my pregnancy loomed in front of me like a tall – enormously tall – frosted glass wall; not clear enough to see through, too slippery to scale, the land beyond it clouded, uncertain, inscrutable.

And here he is. He is here. He sleeps on me, milk breath and fluttering eyelashes and his feet crossed just so at the ankle, those pudgy ankles.

Happy half-birthday my beautiful boy. Thank you for being here. Thank you for living. Thank you for being mine.