All the pictures of Leone before we met him face-to-face happened to just sort-a-kinda be lying about the other day. I know those pictures like the back of my hand but admit that it's been quite some time since I've actually held them. With a few moments to spare I pulled them out, one by one, glancing at each familiar shot and allowing myself to be transported back in time.
Those first ones, well. So serious. So little. Also? So damn strong. Mad. Almost like he was ready to put on the boxing gloves if necessary.
The pictures that followed, well, those are the ones in which the hurt began to show. And the confusion. Loneliness. There's some pictures where he looks sick, but the majority feature this extremely small infant who just looks so sad. Not broken, but darn close.
Prior to knowing our boy the way we know him now, those pictures signified something completely different. They were our connection. Our thing to hold, to stare at, to wonder about, to pray over, to worry, to smile about. To place beside the sticky note covered in names. To post on my board at school for everyone to see.
A mother's pride.
As for today? Today they just tear me up.
Now they feel like something so completely private (something so completely sacred) because they show something so completely raw. Sacred pain.
Pain, pain, and more pain.
A mother's awareness.
As I looked at those pictures-- as I looked at that face that is etched forever within my heart and soul, the one that I would climb mountains and cross oceans and fly to the moon just to see smile-- I felt my heart breaking.
Sweet boy. Sweet, sweet boy. You were so hurt.
And I? I am so damn sorry.