So it's been just over a week that Luke's been in school. And he seems to really enjoy it. Granted, every morning he still says that he doesn't want to go (I'm assuming this will continue for at least another decade), but by the time he comes home he's ready to declare that he wishes he could live at school.

I'm adapting.

I enjoy going for a long walk, with no time constraints, after I drop him off.

I enjoy having a large block of uninterrupted time in which to paint.

I enjoy making lunch for just myself.

And I like having time to be on my computer without feeling guilty that I should be paying attention to Luke.

But I don't like going on errands without him.

It causes an ache in my soul.

I feel like a part of me is missing.

It may sound silly and trivial... but for over 5 years this little guy - in various stages and various modes of transport - has been with me wherever I go.

When he was little and we still lived in Seattle I'd put a little hat on him, clip his nukie to his jacket, strap him into his convertible carseat/stroller and walk. We'd go to our mailbox and say hi to Bali. We'd wave at David or Leo at Karma. We'd stop to chat with Greg if he was out cleaning. We'd walk down to Bed Bath & Beyond for something. (Mostly because it was the closest, walkable store that reminded me of Target. This was before city target came.) We'd walk up past the Seattle Center to go to the QFC on 5th & Mercer. Once we lost his expensive, organic-y, lavender, chewie- teether and walked back to find it under the monorail. (Washed it.)

After we moved to Minot, Luke rode in KaDee's big, gray car with me when we drove around town. And he'd ride on my chest in the front carrier on our walks to The Sticky Store (Kmart) when we lived on the south side of town. After we moved to the gun club, we'd walk to go visit Daddy at work at Bricks. We'd take the wagon to the park - always over that bridge where there were plenty of rocks to throw into the Souris. He learned to ride in a shopping cart at Menards in Minot. And he loved the seafood display at the big MarketPlace, with the big sharks and the standing fish-men in chef hats.

When we moved to Edgerton to live with his cousins, we spent lots of time with them and my sister going to places like Target and Woodmans in Janesville. We found the co-op that had little, plastic grocery carts for the kids and made juices in the back. We discovered the joy of mall playgrounds. With those sorta-squishy, sorta-hard plastic climbing things. They were little. We had to watch that the big kids didn't run them over. They were still tippy.

When we moved to Madison he was still my constant companion. Target was a staple. But by this time he was getting wise to the idea that toys could be bought here, not just admired. And there was always the starbucks smoothie place RIGHT THERE. We'd laugh and giggle when we pretended that we were worried that Woodmans might not have any toilet paper in the bathroom, as we both clearly knew that they had the custom made steel holders that held twelve rolls per stall. He'd wear his darth vader cape to shop. We'd enjoy the less frequent trips to Trader Joes by the zoo. He'd go with me to the post office any time I needed to drop off art.

When we'd go visit his cousins in Brillion we enjoyed the 2 hour drive together. We spent many a day in Bethie's van, heading to the Appleton mall to play because we were cooped up inside in the winter months. They got good at fitting three kids in the front of a Target cart. We found splash pads in every city we went to. We found library days and play groups. We walked to parks and to the "apple store" (grocery).

When we moved to Banbury he and I would spend two hours at a time exploring all the shops on Parsons Street. We walked thru the Castle Quay and found the coffee shops and toy stores. We found the only asian market we've seen so far and depleted their supply of roasted seaweed snacks. We bought a sword and he roamed the streets as Prince Arthur.

When we moved to Sedgeberrow we'd sometimes get dropped off in Evesham. (Before i could drive.) We'd head to the park, but first we'd hit Greggs for some Magic Water. We'd check all the charity shops for used copies of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. We'd play at Abbey Park for awhile and then stop at Buongiorno for a cappuccino and an ice cream.

It may seem like all we did was go to stores, but I feel that is where I notice his absence the most? I don't have (get) to buckle anyone into the car. I don't have (get) to hold anyone's hand when I walk thru the parking lot. I don't have anyone to put in the cart, or talk to when I peruse the shelves. I find myself talking to myself in my head instead. Laughing at things we'd typically laugh at together.

This is probably all normal. Many moms have told me it takes time to adjust. And that each stage is precious. And I know and believe that.

But it brings into focus that Other Thing that is always in my heart.

That desire to have another child, a sibling for Luke.

Back when I was pregnant with Luke, in Seattle, I went to a Moms Group Bible Study. And one woman was teary over their unsuccessful attempts at a fourth child. And I thought, well, that's pretty silly. I knew women that couldn't have children and I knew of their pain, so what did she have to be upset about?

But now I understand.

Someone to play with, someone to fight with... that somebody that is inextricably linked to you. You sorta forget about each other in your teens and 20s, but then, when you "grow up," there are these best friends that you can share anything with. That always love you.

How could I rob Luke of that??

Most of my 20s were spent drinking and in bad relationships. And when I got sober in my 30s I felt like I had lost a decade+ of my life. I was somehow behind my peers. And, although I don't regret my journey and I praise God for what He had planned for me, it is hard to not feel like I am not yet done. I'm not ready to be here. Where my body says, "That's it." There have been joyful moments of hope in these past years when we thought our family would grow, but those were soon dashed and we faced the grief of loss each time.

Will this pain ever go away? I'm the old mom at the school yard. The one not toting a toddler or a newborn. Family and dear friends share their joyous news of pregnancy and new births and I rejoice with them! Yet inside I still weep. I don't want to feel this way. I want to go to a baby shower and not cry in the bathroom. I want to go to the grocery store and not have my heart catch in my throat every time I go past the diapers and sippy cups. Isn't there a time when it's ok? Doesn't everyone get there sooner or later? Won't it stop hurting someday??

Beau told me I should start a blog about this. As, in my sadness, I've searched for places online that could help. A community that understands. People with whom to share. But i was scared. Hurtful comments abound on the internet. And someone would be justified in calling me selfish, whiney, and ungrateful. It's so much safer to just share the fun stuff.

And yet here it is.

I learned recently that someone I used to envy for their seemingly-charmed life has cancer. I know many people that dearly desired a child, but were not able to have one. There are people in this world struggling with so much more than I'll ever know. My life is filled with laughter and love. Each day is a blessing and I have been given so much. What right have I to feel this pain?

Anyway. All this from the first week of school?

Yeah. It's always there.