You know that you've been on my mind since I woke up this morning. The first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was the sky through my bedroom window. It was that perfect moment just before the sun rises over the hill and the horizon is a beautiful mix of purple, orange and grey. I believe that was a little gift from you to me. Later in the morning, snowflakes fell--just enough to collect in small patches in the grass. We were not expecting any snow. Caroline giggled when I suggested that her little sister must have planned it as a surprise just for her!
Today, we're celebrating Thanksgiving with our little family at home. Because we knew that you would be arriving this week, I made mashed potatoes, two pumpkin pies, and applesauce from scratch ahead of time. We roasted a BIG turkey and made stuffing. Your sister said the prayer and included thanks for her sister Bella. This was the first time that I've eaten much of anything since you were born. Dinner was delicious, but you were missed. For months, I looked forward to this exact meal and had a clear picture in my mind of what our day would be like. Your Dada would hold you while I'd quickly eat and then we'd trade places. One of us would hover over the table bouncing you to keep you happy or you'd nurse while I struggled to eat with my one free hand. Your Dada thought you'd be an easy baby. I thought you'd be grumpy like your sister! But you were not there. At the end of the meal, your sister sat in front of the television and I chatted with your Dada about how much we miss you. I glanced at my phone and pulled up the photo of your sweet little baby feet. It took my breath away.
Tonight, we'll prepare for our "North Pole Breakfast" and decide where your sister's elf should be placed for his arrival to our house this year. The Christmas tree is up and all of our decorations are on display. This makes the day even harder for me. Last year, your sister was very ill and had three hospitalizations and two emergency surgeries. She was so sick that there was a time that we weren't sure if she'd survive. As I look around the house, I see the photo of her sitting on Santa's lap and I remember that it was taken the night before she became ill. I see decorations that last year had been pulled down and collected into a shopping bag so that I could display them in her hospital room for Christmas morning. I see an ornament on the tree that we bought together at the hospital's gift shop when she was feeling well enough to push her IV pole down the hallway for a long walk. It all brings back that panicky feeling of worry that something could go horribly wrong. And then there's the reality that everything DID go horribly wrong with you.
I knew that this would be a challenging day, but I decided this morning that I was going to do my best to focus on my blessings. Losing you is an overwhelming, crushing pain. But I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm so thankful that I had a chance to know you when you were full of life. I loved feeling your little hands and feet kicking and moving. I loved how you were always so active while we were at church. I loved seeing you dancing around on the ultrasounds--especially the last one when you were sticking your tongue out and putting your fingers in your mouth. You made me laugh so much the ultrasound tech couldn't get a clear image of you! I'm thankful that you were my little running buddy for all those months. I felt like we were in it together and you showed me how tough I can be. I'm thankful for the chance to have given birth to you. There is nothing more empowering as a woman and a mommy. And although you were already gone, I'm thankful that I had that one afternoon with you. To witness your baptism, to dress you in your "going home" outfit, to know what it feels like to drift off to sleep with you snuggled on my chest. I'll never forget how lucky I am that I know what it felt like to kiss your chunky cheeks and feel your soft, sweet newborn hair against my face. If it was meant to be that you would become an angel, I'm incredibly grateful that you were at least with us long enough that we have these special memories of you.
I'm also thankful for your sister and your Dada. Your sister is the most amazing person I've ever met. She makes me laugh and smile and makes this beautiful, awful, confusing life more than worth living. She is so smart, such an amazing little artist, has such a big heart and will surely have a crazy sense of humor like your Dada. It has been such a blessing to watch her grow into a "big girl" over the past five years. And as for your Dada--you're lucky to have the best one in the world. And I mean that! I've never met a man so invested in his daughters. He is silly, fun, loving and above all, sees raising children as the most important thing he can do in his life. Part of the reason that he's an amazing father is that he would have shown you a great example of the type of man a girl is very lucky to marry. He loves to spend quality time with your sister, but also does more than his fair share of the parenting. Giving baths, reading bedtime stories, helping your sister remember to do her chores, taking her to the grocery store with him to give your Mama a break, spending his evenings drawing mermaids and making Lego and building block creations. I couldn't ask for a better husband and partner. I'm one of those girls that got to marry their dream guy. I'm so lucky to be head over heels in love with your Dada and I know that he feels the same about me. He treats me like a princess. He respects me, listens to me, takes care of me, puts my needs ahead of his and always makes me laugh and keeps life interesting. He is my best friend. I have no doubt that by the time you'd become a young woman, the bar would have been set really high for all those guys that would have been hoping for a chance to catch your eye! And through the past few days since we lost you, he has been such a source of strength for me and I can feel that our bond is only getting stronger as we go through this together. Although the pain of your absence will surely never leave my heart, I can't ever forget how fortunate I am to be spending my life with these two perfect, wonderful people.
I miss you so much sweet girl. I can't wait to see what surprises you have in store for us in the future to let us know you're with us!
Love you so much,