Friday, August 13, 2010

Three Months: Remembering

Three months. 1/4 of a year. More than 1/6 of the time that Hudson was with us on this earth. The months go by and these fractions get bigger and Hudson’s life gets farther and farther away from us. I want so badly to remember every little thing. I’ve started a habit of sending myself an email when a memory comes to mind—I have to write it down for fear I won’t remember it again. My poor little baby girl, missing out on so very much. So very cheated. As are we all.

I mentioned a while ago that within a few days after Hudson died, Ed and I started making a list of all of the words she could say. We kept going back to it every time we remembered another one.

I am devastated beyond belief that we have only one video of her saying a single word—“No!” It is also the last, and in some ways, the best, video we ever took of her. It was taken on May 2, 11 days before she died. I'm so grateful we managed to at least get this one one tape. It was by far her best party trick. 

Sadly, I think “No” is probably also the last word I ever heard her utter, in response to repeated requests, even in the ER, for her to try to drink something.

Why it never occurred to us to make videos of her saying all her words and making all her signs and animal noises, I have no idea.  I guess we figured we had plenty of time to make memories of her when she was little.  Certainly we never dreamed that we'd need them to remember her at all.

So instead of the videos I desperately wish I had, here is a list of Hudson’s words (with her pronunciation in parentheses), signs, and animal noises in no particular order. It’s still not exhaustive—every once in a while, Ed and I still think of words we forgot to add. And I could never even count the number of words she knew but still could not say.


Airplane (ai-pane)
More (mo)
Please (mease, complete with a rub of her heart for the sign)
Ambulance (am-lance)
Helicopter (heh-cop)
Mouth (mow, like cow)
Eyebrow (eye-bow, like cow)
Car (cah)
Hair (heh)
Breakfast (bek-fah)
Snack (nack)
Shoes (sooze)
Bath (baff)
Banana (nana)
Grass (gas)
Up (with hands over head)
Down (with hands pointed down to the floor)
Open (with hands wide like doors on the bus opening)
Close (kose—with hands together like doors on the bus closing)
Up above the (uppa-bub-ba, like in “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” with hands opening and closing like a twinkling star, and pointer fingers together like a roof for “like a diamond in the sky”)
No (obviously)
Sneeze (sees, complete with a fake “achoo!”)
Water (wah)
Rock (and its corollary, rocky-rock, often said while sitting in the rocking chair)
Teeth (teef)
Barbara (ba-ba)
Justin (juh-tin)
Braxton (brah)
Elliot (eh-yah)
Daddy (dah)
Poppy (bop-pa)
Belly button (bell bah)
Outside (ow-sigh)
Truck (tuck)
Hudson (ud-son, pointing to herself)
Row, row, row (complete with motions of rowing oars toward her chest)
Uh-oh (her first word)
Boo boo
Balloon (boon)
Star (tah)
Octopus (ah-puh)
Crab (cab)
Turtle (tuh-tuh)
Diaper (di-pah)
Ant (ann)
Pelican (peh-cuh)
Amen (they always said grace before lunch at St. Ann’s—imagine my surprise when I heard her say this one)
Dook! No! (ahem… see video above)
Butt paste (buh pay; her first string of two syllables together, said at around 10 months or so—she can thank her dad for that)
Mole (like the one on Mommy’s neck that she was always fascinated with)
Flower (fow, like cow)

Animal Noises

Chicken: high-pitched “bock bock”
Elephant: high pitched squeal with forearm up to her forehead, fingers pointing out, like a trunk (she learned this one from her friend Sophia, who lives in San Diego now)
Duck: “kak-kak,” with her hands tucked up under her arm pits and flapping like duck wings
Cat: mow (rhymes with cow)
Dog: oof (she never quite caught on to the “w” at the beginning)
Snake: “sssssssssssssssssssssssss”
Rooster: high-pitched “oo-oooooooooo”
Lion: “RAWR!” (her first and best animal noise)
Pig: a little snort (followed immediately by a giggle)
Owl: “hoo hoo”


Please: she rubs her hand straight across her chest
Thank you: she puts her hand on her chest then extends it toward you
More: the classic sign—she touches both pointer fingers and thumbs together
Done: she waves her hands face-down toward the table, one over the other, like she’s wiping off a mess (or making one)
All gone: she waves her hands in the air, like they were empty
Wash hands: she wipes her hands together, like wiping them on a washcloth
Eat/hungry: she puts her hand to her mouth, with fingers and thumbs together like she’s holding a piece of food
Milk: the classic sign—she opens and closes her fist (yes, like milking a cow—nice, huh? Especially for us breastfeeding mamas)

And my favorite sign, the one I wish more than anything I could see again:

I love you: She points to her eye, then crosses her hands over her chest, then points at me.


  1. Mandy, I just wanted to say I read every entry, and think of you and Hudson and Ed often. I'm so sorry these milestones have become remembrances, but I'm so grateful you have such wonderful ones. Thank you for sharing them, including the video (I saw it in the slideshow you'd posted from Hudson's memorial service, and fell in love with it/her then). Hudson is clearly a true Tar Heel! Lots of love to you all.
    Deborah Roseman

  2. Oh Mandy.

    I love that video of Hudson. It is a great party trick. I am so sorry for your hard, hard day. Anniversaries are so hard. Ten years after my Dad died on his and my mom's wedding anniversary, I flew home early from studying abroad to be with my mom. Almost twenty years later, I still take the day off to travel home to be with her. I write him a letter every year, and read it to his grave. I've never told anyone that and now I'm writing it on your blog. In some strange way, I look forward to "catching up" with him. And as always, hoping I've done something in that year that would have made him proud.

    Seeing you at Neil's memorial after seeing you last at Hudson's was hard for everyone. So hard. But unfathomably hard for you and your Ed. I felt like I was watching someone scrape a still-fresh wound, and I wanted to scream, "Stop, can't you see they've had enough?" Your strength in sitting through that beautiful service listening to the preacher talk about another beautiful girl's life cut far too short must have been like a bullet to your grieving heart. I am so, so sorry. But I am so, so inspired by you. Hudson has such a brave, strong Mama.

    I have debated whether to tell you this, but I will, in the spirit of One Good Thing. I am so grateful that I had a chance to reconnect with my dear friend William in May, though I am still so sorrowful for the reason. I am grateful that I got to hug him and hear what was going on in his life and sit beside him, though the reason was so tangibly tragic.

    As I wrote to you before, in so many ways, we are all connected by life's crazy highs and lowest of lows, including the most wrenching loss of our dearest loved ones. Somewhere in the grief, somewhere in the darkest of days, we find small diamonds that glitter with promise of a better day. If we're lucky, we are blessed in the reconnection of an old friendship, or the forging of a new one. And that is One Good Thing.

    I hope you find peace today, I hope you find a little more peace in every day. I think of your blue toes and I smile, and I cry. Some days the world is just too many things.

    Love to you and Ed. Keep swimming.

  3. That is quite an impressive list. I'm not sure Andrew can still say that much. Such obvious intelligence. I especially like the Dook part! I've been meaning to mention to you that I loved the "Don't go to Dook" ending of the fight song (I had always done the real one). But as soon as I read your post about Hudson's version we changed it. Every night about 8pm we sing the fight song as part of our bedtime routine and sing Hudson's ending, and I think of you. Sorry you had such a tough week.

  4. Oh, I love that video so much, Mandy. I'm sorry you're regretting other videos you haven't taken, but it's so smart that you are keeping the list of Hudson's brilliance. What a bright, gorgeous little girl. My heart breaks for you more with each post here.

  5. I've learned so much from you with regard to being a mom. Amaris eats well with a spoon because you told me how Hudson learned to eat with one and we make her breakfast thicker now. The wholesome baby website has fantastic kids meal ideas (another jewel from you).

    I will also write down the words Amaris says and purchase a video camera. I only have video's on my cell phone; not nearly enough. Going back to the words...WOW! Hudson was a star indeed

    You've helped me be a more present and patient mom, and that is "one good thing".

    Thinking of you always,


  6. Mandy,
    I read your blog religiously and, lately, have been holding myself back from commenting for fear that it might be weird since I don't really know you. Reading the list of Hudson's words/signs/sounds is astounding. She was such a smart little girl! And funny! I am so sorry her life was cut so tragically short. You and Ed are in my thoughts constantly.
    Libby Manly

  7. Mandy,

    I remember your Facebook post about the first time Hudson said "butt paste". I couldn't believe it! She was so smart. Her words/signs/sounds list is remarkable. The video, even to this "Dookie", is fantastic. I hate that everyone, you and Ed most of all, was robbed of the chance to see Hudson grow up, and that she was robbed of the chance to grow up and change the world she loved so much, on her own terms.

    (Also, since someone else commented about feeling strange about commenting, I want you to know that sometimes I worry I comment too frequently. It's just that you share yourself so openly here, I'd feel like I was snooping if I didn't let you know I was here, bearing witness. So I want you to know that even if I don't comment, I am here, and I'll be here as long as you need me.)

  8. Thinking of you and Ed on this very difficult day...xoxo

  9. Kate Ackley ZellerAugust 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Three months and still I can’t grasp it. So I nag you about eating (sorry!) and say other stuff that’s probably even more annoying …for lack of knowing what to say. ☺
    It’s unreal. But these words are real – yours and Hudson’s.

  10. Dear Mandy -- I've been thinking about you, Ed and Hudson so much today. Hudson was such a beautiful, smart, and sweet girl, and your post brings her to life in our hearts and minds. If only words could work more of a miracle than that, yours would do it.
    Patricia B.

  11. It is still unthinkable-- but thank you for this post. I love to hear about your memories of Hudson on the days that you are able to share them. We are thinking about you always.

  12. Hudson is an amazing kid. I remember meeting her the most recent time at San Antonio's and Paul and I were both so impressed at her ability to say not only balloon but purple balloon (is purple on that list??), and of course her signing/speaking of please and thank you and more. We had not even thought of teaching a child that age "More please! Thank you!" It was after that night that we stepped up our teaching words and signing with Cecilia. Hudson set the bar high, really really high. Thinking of you this week and today especially. With love and support, Mandi.

  13. Hi, Mandy -
    Those early days of language are so amazing and I definitely understand that the words she comprehended but couldn't yet say were countless. What a smart kid... When I read your entries, it really feels like you're honoring Hudson in this very intimate way and also your experience as her mom. Thanks for sharing it with all of us. I think of you, Ed, and Hudson so much. I feel like I'm getting to know Hudson as I read your entries - what a gift. With love, Sarah Walls