The 8-year-old boys I know are receiving their First Holy Communions. They are helping their dads and uncles build backyard playsets. They are scoring goals and hitting home runs.

My boy born eight years ago isn’t doing any of that. And he won’t ever. I watch these other boys, amazed at what they do, amazed that I still miss that my son — my *first* son — won’t do any of these things.

I still cry sometimes about it. Usually in private.

It also lends me some perspective, of course. When one of my children is being difficult to parent, I think to myself, “Well, at least I get to parent her.” When Michael gets me up for the second time in the night for a snuggle, I am able to remember that the alternative sucks worse than broken sleep.

Which is not to say my live children get a pass. But it does, sometimes, give me pause.

My children — Flora, Kate, Michael — will receive communion, and score goals or do back flips, and will draw me into awkward conversations. Gabriel will never, and it’s weird some days to figure out if Gabriel is still their “older” brother since, from the moment that each of them drew their first breath of air, they lived longer than my first-born son.

I’m a little sad today, and I’ll be a little sad every time I watch an 8-year-old boy be an 8-year-old boy this year. Sadness goes with the territory as much as perspective.

I haven’t been to the cemetery in awhile, and I miss the ritual. It was soothing. Maybe I’ll try again this weekend, after Flora’s soccer game. Just a quick stop, some white flowers. Six now. To see his name, and to see my live children wander among the angels.