Here we are again--January 22nd. Her candles are lit, her tree lights are on, her cake is cooling. Oh how I wish she were here. This year feels different, though, as if the grief which is so much a part of who I am, has softened and begun to mold itself into my smiles as well as into my tears. It is no longer the rock against which I am constantly fighting--it is more fluid, warmer almost. Maybe I'm approaching the "acceptance" stage of grief--not that I think grief comes in specific stages anymore than I think people have a right to tell you how to grieve. But things are different this year .
Chris and I were talking last night and he said that he remembered that time three years ago--how it was a Sunday night and we were all piecing together what was happening and that there was a growing consensus that it was not going to end well, for me or for her (I have no memory of this). I asked him, "Then why didn't we stop everything and birth her then?? Why did we hold on? We were going to lose her anyway, so why didn't I get to hold her and say good bye? Why didn't my baby have the right to die in my arms??" The answer? "We still had hope." Looking back, obviously, we had foolish hope. We didn't realize quite how bad things were and at every decision we made the choice to keep her in a little longer--just to give her a chance. If I could go back, without the ability to save her, accepting the end result as it happened, the one thing I would wish for is for her to have seen me just once. To have died in my arms and not my womb. To have heard how much we loved her. To have a hand print, a foot print, a lock of hair...anything. But I don't. Three years has taught me that I can't change that and acceptance has taught me that I don't need it...not really. It would be amazing to have had that experience, but I'm still her mother and I still love her without it.
So what do I have? I have the most amazing husband in the whole world. He is loving, kind, patient and oh so forgiving of me and my shortcomings. The years we have been together have been incredible and I know that I would never have made it through the death of our child without him holding my hand so softly and cradling my heart so tenderly. I could never imagine my life without him.
I have a daughter who shows me every day how to learn and love and laugh. A daughter who loves chess and crossword puzzles and puns. A daughter who has given my mother her ultimate wish--that I struggle to parent a child just like me.
I have another daughter who makes me giggle non-stop. One who taught me humility from day one and who showed me the meaning of patience and parenting with the heart. A little girl who is growing and changing so quickly, I can't seem to catch my breath.
I have a son--a precious son who would never have been. What a gift. What an amazing, toddling, smiling, laughing, climbing, hugging, loving, GIFT.
And, of course, I have an angel baby--the one who has taught me the most about love and acceptance. Sophie, happy birthday little one. Thank you for helping me see the gifts I've always had and the one you helped bring to us. We miss you.