I've forgotten what Samuel's laugh sounded like.
Oliver burst out laughing at dinner, about something the bird did (we have a baby rainbow lorikeet living in the house at the moment), and then at a big burp that I did (in my defence, I had just had a big sip of Coke). He cackled and cackled and of course we joined in.
Then all of a sudden Anthony was crying. I asked him why and he said he was remembering the way Samuel had laughed when he told him about the umbrella.
Some time in December, Anthony had thrown an umbrella into the garbage bin, and when the garbage man (well, the arm of the truck that passes for the garbage man these days) had emptied the bin into the truck, the umbrella had opened and projected garbage everywhere.
Anthony had thought it was funny and so had Samuel. He had thought it was hilarious, and hatched a plot to put umbrellas in all the bins. Samuel loved practical jokes, and well, anything funny actually. Even if it was really lame.
Anyway, after Anthony said that at dinner I got to thinking about Samuel. It was then I realised that I had forgotten his laugh. Of course, then I started crying too.
Oliver didn't know which of us to hug, so he reached out both hands to pat us on our arms, then, bless him, cracked another joke.
I have noticed that I am crying more often, and more easily than I did before. It's little things that trigger it: a smell, a TV show, a memory, even Anthony sets me off, and he didn't before.
It's a good thing I guess. I was a little worried before - that I was bottling it up or something. It's not like I am any sadder, it just mainly when the little things sink in: I was at the cinema the other night watching "How to Train Your Dragon" and I was really enjoying it. I thought "Samuel's never going to see this (or any) movie." Then I started crying; Or I saw a couple outside the college the other day and thought "Samuel will never have a girlfriend"; or even when I made the hot cross buns yesterday and realised that Sam wouldn't get to eat any.
Or when I realised that I couldn't remember his laugh.
I know he used to laugh a lot. And I can kind of remember him doing it, but I want so much to be able to 'hear' it in my mind. And I can't. I don't know why I want it so much. Maybe I'm afraid that once I forget one thing, I'll start to forget others. I know I'll never forget Sam, but I don't want him to fade either.
I wish I'd taken more videos, more voice recordings. But we never do, do we? I've got thousands of photos, and I'm really happy about that, but it's the sounds that I need.
Thankfully we have recordings of Sam's voice. When he first died, we thought all that we had was his voice mail message (six words: "It's Sam, I'll call you back"). We called it a few times, just to hear his voice. Then we found out his nanna had some recordings from her answering machine. So now we have those too. And I know I'll be holding on to those for dear life.
You never expect that when you speak to your kids it's going to be the last time. You never expect that the hug is going to be the last. That the laugh that came at the wrong time, or the bad joke that made you groan, or the story that goes absolutely nowhere, is going to be the last one you hear. If you did, maybe you'd pay more attention. I hope you do.