Friday, August 6, 2010


As I contemplate the future without Hudson, the multiple layers of our loss are just astounding. One of the saddest and most important ones is the giant hole that will always be present in our family for as long as we live. When we have another child, there will be no Hudson to stare in awe and confusion at the new baby that has come into her life, no Hudson always trying to “help” me take care of the baby, no Hudson to keep me laughing and engaged through those first very isolating months of mothering an infant. If we have three more kids, no matter where we go or what we do, I will always think that there should be six of us, not five. As our kids grow up, their big sister will not be there to show them how to do things or help them out in a jam. Whenever we take a family photo, there will always be not only a metaphorical hole, but an actual hole where she should be sitting with us. At every major milestone, like starting kindergarten, graduating from high school, going off to college, getting married, having children of their own, I will always, always wonder what Hudson would have been like at those stages. Would we have been friends or would she have hated me? Would she have a singing voice or not be able to carry a tune at all? Would she be an athlete or a bookworm, or both? And it brings me to tears every time I realize again that I will never know.

This is just such an incredibly difficult future to face. As real and raw as the pain still is now, thinking about these holes in our future breaks me even more. And it kills me to know that forever and ever, our lives and our family will be incomplete. Every joyful moment will always be either happy-sad or sad-happy, depending on what the dominant feeling is.  And no matter how hard we try (and we will), our kids will never really know how wonderful their sister was and how special she would have been to them.

Since Hudson died, I have understood for the first time why people would go see psychics to try to communicate with their loved ones. I still don’t think I would do it (although I’m less sure about that possibility than I was before), but I truly understand the urge. When faced with the unspeakable reality that I will never see Hudson again (at least not in earthly form, and as you know, I’m totally unclear about any prospect beyond that), the idea of somehow being able to communicate with her is a pretty tempting one. I read in one of my grief books that many bereaved parents have turned to the “paranormal” in their grief, and almost without exception, they come away from the experience comforted. My skepticism says they are comforted because they want to be comforted and that they hear what they want to hear, whether real or not, but still… the possibility is not without appeal. I’ve already allowed myself to simply be comforted by anything that feels comforting, like a star in the sky or a dandelion in the yard, without regard to whether I think those things are “really” Hudson being present with me. Why should seeing a psychic be any different? (Well, with the exception that if you really are a skeptic, you don’t necessarily want to fork your money over to people who take advantage of the bereaved at their most vulnerable.)

I doubt I would ever seriously entertain going to see a psychic. But then again, never in a million years did I think I would ever consider getting a tattoo, and yet here I am, pondering daily where I might put a small hieroglyphic turtle that would help me feel like Hudson is always with me. I guess I’m just saying that I get it. When death rips this enormous hole in the fabric of your life, a hole that will never disappear no matter how much you try to fill it, I get that you might consider a lot of things that you might never have considered before in your desperate attempts to do so.

I just miss my girl so very much.


  1. After the recent loss of a dear friend I went looking for a word to describe this particular piece of loss and grief.

    Lacuna: An empty space or a missing part

    The hole that can never be filled. The missing piece that can never be replaced.

    Bearing witness to your grief and holding you and your family in the light.

  2. Mandy - You are likely right - those people that walk away comforted likely feel that way becauase they WANT to and maybe not because they were successful in their goal. But shouldn't comfort be the goal in the end? Do what you need to do to feel better minute by minute. I think I speak for most when I say do whatever you need to do to comfort yourself and Ed in these difficult times - psychic, tattoo, whatever. Be good to yourself and don't worry about what you used to think or say about things - life is different now in so many ways, so just be who you feel comfortable being.

    Much love,

  3. Dear Mandy, I wish Hudson were here with you and this terrible hole were not. I hope you will find comfort (even if it's fleeting, although I pray in time comfort will be part of your day-to-day) in many different forms, whatever they may be.

  4. Oh, wanted to add that I think a turtle tattoo would look great on your wrist.

  5. Hi Mandy--Each day when I come to your blog, I secretly hope to read some words where some how, some way, I can "hear" that you are feeling a little more peace, a smidgen less anguish, or a fingernail's width of comfort. I rejoiced when you posted about your visit with your friend, or your "good day". On days like today, and many other days, when I hear so much pain, I try to remember your lesson of one good thing. You are inspiring so many, and doing such profound things with your grief that I hope your hole fills by a centimeter, millimeter by the people you've inspired.

  6. While it certainly will not fill the holes immediately, a tattoo would be a wonderful and permanent prompt for you and Ed and your future children to talk about Hudson whenever you or they see it, when they run their little fingers over it or kiss it good night. She'll be with you always - on your body always - which, after some time, might bring some comfort. It's not only a symbol but a scar - seems incredibly appropriate!

  7. Mandy -- Yes to everything you said. You're not alone. Olivia (Veronica's mom)

  8. When I was having my wisdom teeth pulled, the dentist was unable to completely numb the nerves in the roots of my teeth. He kept giving me more shots to numb it until my eyelid was drooping. Still I felt the electric burning feeling of stretched nerve tissue...

    Finally he proclaimed that the pain was "in my head". I took hold of his wrist and told him that I didn't care WHERE the pain was coming from, it was certainly THERE, and asked him to hurry up and get it over with.

    Real or not real..

    The billion stitches in time that form the bonds between us are a large part of what make us "real" in the first place. Every second you spent with Hudson is in your body. You and Ed made her together. The intricacies of her presence are on your skin, in your blood and breath.

    I think that what "psychics" attempt to do is hone in on bringing that presence to your senses.

    I view "paranormal", in part, as an understanding that thoughts, dreams and memories are physical, chemical events, and not disembodied abstracts occurring in some separate, non-physical place. I believe that all of these serve as proof of experiential fact, of what is real.

    I know from personal experience that it is possible to gather that deep, cellular, knowing of the ones we love in a way that manifests their presence with us, here and now.

    There are as yet uncounted ways that your future children will call Hudson's presence forth, unimagined moments in which she will be shared and transmitted between you as a known and real part of your family. They will say her name and know her stories.

    What looks like a hole may turn out to be a shadow: 1. an inseparable companion, 2. a figure cast upon a surface by a body intercepting light, 3. a reflected image.

    Two small bits of advice when considering paranormal practioners:

    -Lean toward those who offer health, well being and spiritual services.
    -Avoid those who use neon signs.

    Come to think of it, this advice applies to tattoo parlors as well....

    I love you!


  9. Mandy, Meghan O'Rourke writes beautifully about this longing to communicate in this Slate article

  10. I have a friend who got a tattoo when her husband died suddenly within a year of their marriage. That was years ago, and she still talks about how comforting the tattoo is. Go for it.

  11. I'm not as skeptical as some (Adam is a diehard iconoclast and scoffs at me and my "signs")-- but they are there, and you have already seen some. Even if it is just the idea that the constancy of your love makes you always associate new images with Hudson, that is something. I saw on FB as I clicked into the blog someone's suggestion that you include a lovie in your future pictures-- in my mind's eye I see Hudson growing next to that huge turtle. I think it's a wonderful idea.

  12. She will never be gone... and maybe neither will the hole. I think I would make rituals to celebrate her, on your terms, focusing on the positive (which you have an amazing ability to do, even though I suspect you can't always remember that right now). Whether you have another child or 10, allow yourself to get her a gift each Christmas. To hang an ornament for her each year. To light a candle for her on her birthday. In the real hole at the table, put a vase of flowers and keep it full, feed it with beauty, so that you can direct the desire to fill that hole. When you miss her (all the time, I know) visit the garden and cut more flowers.

    Rituals or remembrance are important. They allow you to relax your vigil because you know that, through these rituals, she will always be remembered.

    And on the tattoo, I'm totally in favor. I spent a year thinking about one that would be right to commemorate my kids. No matter what happens in our lives, I have two great girls and that is written indelibly on me until I die. I chose a line from a song I hum/sing for them and then two dragonflies. Again, it's as much a celebration of Hudson as a memorial... Thinking of you.

  13. Mandy,

    Another way to maybe fill the 'hole', always feel freedom to continue to share Hudson with others. You have spoken before as to what you might say when someone asks you, "do you have any children?" or "how many children do you have?" I once asked a stranger this question and he answered that in addition to his living son, he had a daughter that he lost at around 15 months old. I was shocked and lost for words and yes, he noticed this. He said it was a difficult question for him and sometimes he just couldn't find the courage or strength but that speaking of her was to honor her precious life. I swallowed and then asked him a few questions about her so that I could find out perhaps a little more about his sweet little girl.

    Now, when I plant flowers, I always plant one for Aliza.

    He had courage that day to share her, she is forever in my life by thoughts and simple gestures.

    I continue to keep you, Ed, and Bess too in my daily thoughts and prayers and practice Hudson's One Good Thing.

    -kirsten (two little birds kirsten, and obviously from a previous comment of mine on your blog, I support your tattoo idea)

  14. Many, I don't know you.. but i do realy your blog reguartly. You are constantly in my thoughts and prayers. I am always trying to think up some special way to give you lots of comfort. We do have somewhat different outlooks on life and I wish so badly we could sit down and have a good heart to heart. I have also suffered A LOT of loss throughout my life. I know you are still struggling and I know that I am FOR SURE still struggling. So if you ever want to talk and I would be more than willing(:

  15. Mandy,
    It is in these moments - when you reveal your deepest loss, your most heartfelt desires, and you darkest moments - that we see both your dignigty and Hudson's grace. Yes, there will be a physical hole in those pictures, but I can not for a second fathom you other kids not knmowing Hudson. I can't fathom it because I just don't see you or Ed letting that happen. Nor fo rthat matter can we who love you let it happen.

    It is also at these times that I just want to wrap you up int he biggest hug I can. I think we all do.

  16. The hole is indeed there and we will both have to cope with it forever.

    I have considered a tatoo as well. Me, the person who regrets piercing her ears, so i can understand if you want to as well.