Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Find Her in My Dreams

Eight. She’d be E I G H T today.

I’ll always wonder who she would’ve been. She's my favorite daydream. 

I imagine, she’d be amazing. Full of life. She’d be magic. Like all little girls are.

Often, I become lost in the magic of dreaming her into being. I can see her there, like a silhouette with flecks of color and dimension. Hair bouncing, dress swirling, giggles reverberating around her, through me. Her presence hits me right in my soul. 

I feel lighter. For a moment I have her back. As if she never left. 

But just for a moment or two. In the end, she always eludes me. I cannot grasp the details. She slips right through my hands. 

And then she’s gone again.

So close, but still out of reach. 

We had her, then didn’t. She was almost ours forever.

She was born in the early morning hours while the darkness and silence still fell. That darkness stayed and her silence haunted me for years. I still need a constant hum of noise at all times. I no longer find peace in the stillness.

Right until the very end of my labor with her, I hoped the doctors were wrong, that they had somehow made a mistake. I still clung to the extraordinary possibility that she would be born screaming and alive. As I glanced over at my husband holding her those first few moments, I thought I saw her arm move, a quick jerk that newborns do. I think I was losing touch with reality. I wanted nothing to do with the one I was currently in. Once I had her in my arms, I remember thinking that maybe if I willed it strong enough, she would breathe. Her eyes would open and I would finally receive the gift of looking into them. I thought the universe would see how much I love her and correct its mistake. She wasn’t supposed to die.

This year, for the first time, her birthday falls on Mother’s Day. At first, that felt extra cruel to me. I’ve consciously had to redirect my thoughts and emotions on how to handle the double gut-punch that brings. I’ve chosen to view her birthday on Mother’s Day as an extra special way to incorporate her into the celebration of my motherhood. Her impact on me is just as wide and far reaching as her brothers’. She deserves to be celebrated.

The years since losing her have changed me. Her loss molded me. Some parts are better. And in the trust of being truthful, other parts of me are hallow. Only she could fill those up. The pain has dulled now. The grief has settled in, right beneath the surface, and lulled. I’ve come to accept that. I’ve learned the balancing act of grief and joy. It’s quite the art-form. It deserves so much more respect than it receives. 

I no longer speak about her every day, but still relish in the stolen moments that I can. I don’t actively mourn her daily, but the waves of grief still crash down. In both expected and unexpected moments. My life is bright now. The darkness no longer wins. I am happy. It’s possible. I wasn’t convinced it was in the beginning. 

Her death no longer defines me. But I will never diminish her existence and my love for her. And I won’t let time do that either. Time robbed me of her, but it can never take my love for her. Time doesn’t get to take that, too. I won’t let it. 

Life moves on. At first that feels cruel. But I am so, so, grateful that it does. And so I moved on too, because I still had so much to live for, but I’ve never taken a step forward without her. I’ve taken her with me. In many ways she’s become a part of me, woven through my soul and heart, we’ve become one again.

And so it’s been one more year without her, yet with the many imprints and ripple waves she left behind. Because she’s truly behind every reaction, decision, deep belly laugh, and tear. My Life is sweeter. My Love is deeper. Because she was here. 

As the years go on, I will continue to "hold her in my memory, and find her in my dreams."

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