I have lived 5 1/2 years without my sweet girl. 5 1/2 YEARS?!
I am often told, "I wouldn't survive if my child died." I didn't think I would either. In fact, I still don't know how I *have* survived the last 5+ years. But, I know that I have gotten up out of bed every day and put one foot in front of the other and suddenly those days, turned into weeks, turned into months, turned into years.
After Ruthie Lou died, I had an epiphany moment; I would live for her now. In the moments that I didn't want to live for myself, I would live for her instead. All of our children (living and not living) come into our lives as such blessings, they truly are gifts. I quickly realized how impactful the life of my daughter was and that I would do her more honor in my healing, than in my hurt.
But it hasn't been easy.
It miss her so much.
I ache for her when I see her brothers doing fun stuff. I am heartbroken when they reach a new milestone or have a bonding moment and a get that twinge of "she should be here" thinking.
I guess it will always be that way.
I have done a tremendous amount of grief work. TREMENDOUS amount. I feel strong. I feel joy. I am grateful for my family. I live a really good life. And I will always miss her.
Five and a half years. I am so grateful for her. I would never have chosen a baby other than Ruthie Lou, with her sweet puckered lips and curled fists. She is my baby. She will forever be my first-born and only daughter.
And I miss her still.
5 1/2 years.
I only hope to do her proud.
This is the year that Reid understands birthdays without understanding it is also the day his sister died. I knew this day would come. I visualized it on the morning I woke up in 2011, when Ruthie Lou was still with us and I couldn't fathom why or how she could actually leave me on my birthday, a day I will now forever share with her. I cried and cried and cried and I could not make sense of it.
A friend told me that someday this would be a gift, to share the day with her. What a painful gift to be given, but he was right. It still hurts and I am not in the emotional space of celebrating my birthday yet, but my son is. We have four birthdays in a 6 week period so he has it down now; decorations, cupcakes, candles and presents, it's all very exciting to celebrate the person we love.
Reid can't wait to decorate for me, he's been talking about it for weeks since the night we decorated for him. And this is the year, the one I visualized that awful morning. I could imagine Chris taking the kids to buy me a present, them oblivious to my heartache that day and us living in the joyous moments with our (living) children, celebrating life not death. I want to be there, each year I get closer and the innocence and excitement of my son helps, but I'm not there yet.
So on that day, please don't wish me a happy birthday. I am happy to be born, it used to be my favorite day, but "happy birthday" will never feel quite right. Please honor my daughter and the complexity of our hearts that day, and acknowledge that yes I was born, but leave out the word happy, it breaks my heart and only tells me that you don't understand.
My daughter should have turned five this year; kindergarten, new school, drop offs, pick ups, picture days, father-daughter campouts and her new little brother. She's missing out on all these things and we are missing her dearly.
I know that sharing this day is a gift, that one day we will be less mournful and more celebratory but it's not here yet. My heart aches, my chest hurts and my arms forever empty. I will love the decorations my four year old displays, I will eat all the delicious food that day and smile with my family, for it isn't any different from every other day that we've survived without her. However, Chris and I will know that our hearts ache a little extra on my birthday because in my being born into this world, our daughter was leaving it for the next life, whatever and wherever that might be. All we know, is it was without us and that pain will never end
I am mama of three beautiful babes; two sons whom I have the privilege of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.