Yesterday, I was filling out paperwork to return from leave. As I entered my tax exemptions for payroll, I got to the part for children. How many dependent children am I claiming? Zero.
I should be writing a 1 in that box. Instead, I had to write a big, fat, hollow zero.
That action cost me about 10 minutes of tears. After which, I folded up the paperwork, slid it into the envelope, and got it ready to send out to human resources tomorrow. Life goes on.
Life goes on and it is full of constant, tiny reminders of what I don't have. I'm not talking about the glaring ones - the baby department in Target or the commercials on daytime TV. I'm not talking about the obvious triggers I have learned to avoid. I'm talking about all of the details that no one really notices - but are always there to just slap me in the face.
The tax exemption paperwork that requires me to list myself has having no children, even though that is very much untrue. The baby seat in the back of the man's car who helped jump our dead battery the other day. The box containing one leftover pregnancy test in the the bathroom cabinet. The junk mail that comes addressed to The Wood Family. A dropped pacifier in the grocery store parking lot.
Every day, it is something. Every day, I am reminded in the smallest and cruelest ways that the life I am living is not the life I am supposed to have. And there is nothing I can do about it. As much as I would like to, I can't crawl into a hole and ignore this life. I have to life it. I have to face it. I have to deal with it - with every single bit of it.
I can't go back in time and save her, and I can't go forward in time to a moment where there is another baby and a lighter heart. I am here. Stuck in the middle of a big, fat, terrible life full of big, fat, terrible zeroes. A life where the only thing I have to cling to is the love I have for the people in it.
And I need them all more than ever.