Sunday, June 6, 2010

One Good Thing

Although I won't (can't) start at the beginning, for the benefit of anyone who comes here without knowing me or us, I will explain, at least in part, why I began this blog. Our daughter, Hudson Lily Hitchcock Chaney, died suddenly at the age of 17 months after a three-day stay in the hospital due to an incredibly aggressive bacterial meningitis. At her memorial service, I offered the following message. It has unexpectedly become a guiding principle in our lives, and, it seems, in many others.  That is yet another One Good Thing. 

Hudson's One Good Thing

Today you are gone but you should not be. This week, you should have been splashing in your Poppy’s pool every day, but you weren’t. This morning, we should have marveled at the planes that flew over the backyard as you said one of your favorite words, “Ai-pane.” Today my head says I should celebrate your life, but my heart wants only to weep for our loss. There are so many things that should and shouldn’t be today, and there will be so many more in the future as we are forced to live our lives without you.

But of the many things you taught me, one of the most important was not to worry about what should or shouldn’t be, but simply to enjoy and cherish what is. When you got a little older, I was going to start a ritual with you that I was going to call “One Good Thing.” Whenever something bad happened to one of us, we were going to try to think of one good thing that came out of it– to enjoy and cherish what is rather than worry about what should or shouldn’t be. I thought I was going to teach you that lesson, but now I realize it was the other way around. You’ve already taught it to me and so many others.

It’s a lesson that we all know inside, but one that we need to be reminded of often—to love and treasure every moment in this all-too-short life, to hug, kiss, and laugh often, to soften in our anger, to love unconditionally and overwhelmingly, to always tell our friends and family that we love them—to enjoy and cherish what is and stop worrying about what should and shouldn’t be. Your life and death are the most powerful reminder of that lesson that any of us could have received.

You are gone but you should not be. But, following your lead, I will cherish what is— that your dad’s and my lives, and so many others, are changed forever because you were in them. Your smile, joyful laugh, mischievous ways, sweet voice, and wise countenance are indelibly burned on my heart-- I would do anything to hear you say "Mama" just one more time. You are gone but you should not be. Thank you for helping me cherish what is. I love you.


And the One Good Thing we can take from Hudson's death, if there can be such a thing, is the incredible love and support we have experienced during these darkest days of our lives. I've said to some that we've been amazed at how this network has emerged over the last week, but what I've realized, through Hudson's lesson, is that this network has been there all the time-- we've just been taking it for granted. And we never will again.


  1. I am so sorry. My heart goes out to you and your husband.

    I love the photograph of Hudson. She has such a sweet smile and she looks so pretty in her green shirt. What a beautiful little girl. I get a feeling of the mischievous personality that you describe from her picture. You truly have so much to celebrate, your sweet little girl and her life, but so very much to mourn for too.

    The idea of 'One Good Thing' is perfect.

  2. I came across your blog via a posting for the lost journal on FB.

    What a beautiful little girl. I am so sorry for your loss, but I thank you for sharing your story. I love this idea of sharing One Good Thing and will implement this with our daughter in your daughter's memory.

  3. Mandy, I found your blog this morning because I'm one of the authors whose book someone donated to the DC Public Library in Hudson's memory. I am so sorry for your loss, and I am so moved by your tribute to your daughter expressed on this page. I am at the opposite end of life from you; my parents are both doing poorly and nearing the end of their days. I will carry your message of One Good Thing in my pocket, close to my heart, when I fly to visit them tomorrow. Perhaps looking for that will soften the edge of my own grief. Thank you. Your courage is inspiring.

  4. Found your blog through Momastery. You are a shining example of a warrior mama! What a beautiful tribute to your sweet daughter. I'm a mother of three and I can't begin to imagine the grief you must know. Thank you for the inspiration. We'll start our family's "one good thing" tradition immediately! And I'll share Hudson's story with my kids. Thank you and much love to you and your family.

    1. Thank you so much for remembering our precious girl with us. Much love to your family as well.