Two years ago my belly was getting bigger and bigger. I have real, tangible moments where I remember Koen being alive and growing inside me. Last weekend was Opening Day of Little League for Hackett. Two years ago I stood on the side of the road by myself, waiting for the parade. I vividly remember soaking in the moment, rubbing my pregnant belly, thinking about having another little Soper boy to wear muddy baseball cleats. Another adorable boy who would walk in the parade, who would beam and wave with delight and pride at his momma with his ball cap on top of his curly hair. I didn't know. I didn't know that it would Koen's first and only Opening Day parade. I didn't know that a year later, I would miss Opening Day because I would be laying in a hospital fighting to not lose my second baby in one year. As I stood there last week, pushing the stroller with a healthy Tobin inside, and being able to see Hackett play ball for the first time in two years, I felt the heaviness and joy all interwoven together. It's hard to fully understand the magnitude of what Hackett has endured, that alone is enough to break my heart. To see him be able to play, pitch, hit the ball so hard he can get a double - he grew up when I wasn't able to watch. I missed a year of it as I lay in the hospital or on a bed in our living room. It makes me so grateful to participate. To be. And to be able to do that with a healthy baby, who doesn't stop smiling in my arms, is literally overwhelming. My heart could burst with love and joy. Then I remember, and the heartbreak swoops in. I have to make a conscious decision at times to live and not let the heartache overshadow the joy. Koen would want me to live, he inspires me to live and embrace the happy, and he makes me want to love even more fiercly. Even when I am not a puddle of tears, but bubbling over with joy, it is because his life, and death, are interwoven to my very core.
Here he is in 2013, one tooth missing, and Koen in my belly.
In 2014, as I lay in the hospital, my guys carried on with life. My sweet, precious friend, Sandy, made sure I didn't miss these moments in photographs the entire season. I am forever grateful for that.
Look at the JOY in that face this year. I love him and his sleepy little, parade watching, brother more than words can ever describe.
I am Jackie.