Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On Writing

I realized today that I’ve only written on the blog once in the last week. That’s the longest break I’ve taken from it since I started. Some of the break has been due to travel—in the past six days, I’ve driven 900 miles, from DC to my dad’s house, up to the NC mountains, back to my dad’s house and then down to Topsail Island, where I am now. Some of it has been because it’s been a busy six days, full of friends and food and visiting. But most of it has been because I haven’t felt much inspiration. When I began the blog, it was a incredibly helpful way for me to organize all the thoughts and feelings about Hudson’s death that otherwise threatened to overwhelm me. For a long time, some kind of theme or story would just emerge from the tornado, making it easier for me to express, even to myself, how I was processing it all.  These days, those thoughts and feelings are less like a tornado and more like a constant rainstorm, drumming in the background of every day.

And then I went through a period of time where I felt like I had to write on the blog every day. I think some part of me felt like I owed it to Hudson, as if writing every day were the only sure way to keep her close, to keep her memory alive in my heart and mind, and in the hearts of minds of many other people. I’ve since learned that that’s certainly not true. Here I’ve only written once in the last week, and yet I’ve thought about little else but my girl during that entire time. The missing, the longing, the remembering—none of it changes one bit whether I write about it or not.

And then I worried about my readers, wondering whether people would stop reading if I stopped writing as often. On many of the earlier days, this was a good thing, encouraging me to write even when I didn’t feel like it, as long as I had something to write about. On many of those earlier days, I needed to write as much as I needed to cry. Now, although I still cry every day, the gut-wrenching, sobbing kind of cry comes less often. And I don’t get the same intense pain in my chest throughout the day that I used to get at the beginning if I went through the day without crying. And I guess my need for the writing is the same—I still need it, just not as intensely. And I have to remind myself that although I appreciate every single comment I have received on the blog, the comments and responses have been an unexpected gift of writing—I didn’t start the blog for the purpose of getting them.

A friend asked the other day if I had thought about starting a new blog that would focus just on this new pregnancy. I have thought from time to time about whether, at some point, I would feel the need to wrap this blog up and start a new blog about our family as it grows or maintain two separate blogs, one about Hudson and one about everything else.  I’ve never gotten very far in that thought process. I mostly worry that our future kids will somehow feel “less” than Hudson, that she will end up seeming larger than life in her death. When I originally set up the blog, I fretted over whether making the URL “hudsonsonegoodthing” (“onegoodthing” itself was already taken) would somehow make our other children feel slighted. I’ve had to remind myself that it will be a very long time before our kids are even aware of such things and hopefully by the time they are, they will understand and think Hudson is as much a part of their lives as I do. This process of parenting after such a terrible loss will be much harder on me than it will be on them.

My instinct is that “One Good Thing” has become a life’s work, that making Hudson and her lesson an integral part of our family is the best way to honor her spirit and keep her alive in all of our hearts. So I think that this is my blog. My only blog. While its focus over time may shift, part of it will always be about Hudson, and how my love for her and my grief for her loss has shaped all of our lives. Forever.

I may not write every day. But Hudson is always here with me. As are all of you. And for those things, I am grateful.


  1. I once had a friend ask me how, after loving her first child so much, she could ever love her second to that depth. I remember feeling the same way, knowing rationally that of course I would love #2 just as I love #1, but somehow not thinking it possible to love ANOTHER child AS MUCH as I love that first one. But you do. Over and over and over again, you do. So you love Hudson, you grieve her, miss her, love her more with each passing day that she's not here. And you'll love #2, love and love and love until you can't believe you could love something so much. And you'll still love Hudson. She'll still be with you, no matter what. And she'll be with #2 in ways you can't predict or know, too.
    Love you,
    Kelley Barnhardt

  2. I've missed you, Mandy!

    And I'm happy to hear that you are at that magical place, Topsail Island, where I've never been; but where my friends, David & Caroline, Jessica & Rob - and now their families, and Mike, Barbara and Carlos have spent such happy times.

    Thank you for your writing - I find it inspiring and nourishing.


  3. A family is a family. It is very difficult (if not impossible) to separate out the different pieces. How you will love #2 is completely shaped by your past experiences, the most significant of which was loving, parenting, and losing Hudson. Once #2 is born, how you still love Hudson will be shaped by the significance of loving and parenting again.

    Certainly any children you have will feel loved in their own individual way by your looks, touches, words, and actions on a second by second basis from the minute of their births more than whether you decide to write about your family in one place or more than one place. You have one heart and that is where the words and love come from in any case.

    I will continue to read the blog and remember Hudson and think good thoughts for you no matter how often you post. After all, this blog is about your journey and what you need, which will ebb and flow over time. We have no expectations for you.

    I am so glad that in the last days you have found some relief from the worst of the storm. It is a sign that, like in real life, the sun will come out again to be followed by more rain and some storms, but always the sun will return again and again. Remember, the sun is there all the time, even if you can't see it.

  4. I look forward to reading your posts, even as they tear out my heart and make me cry. Because you and Hudson have given me another way to look at the world. To me, your blog both is and is not all about Hudson. She is the spark, the memory, the inspiration. But through her, you're taking yourself and all of us into something bigger and further and potentially endless, into that land of One Good Thing, where we can always step back and look at something a different way. I like very much that you're going to keep this blog. It can go anywhere you want to go. And wherever you go on this blog, as in your life, Hudson will always be with you.

  5. Mandy, thank you for so generously sharing your grief, joy, memories, experiences and dreams. I will be a grateful part of your audience for as long as, and as much as, you continue to write.

  6. I like your thinking on keeping this as your blog. It's a wonderful way to honor Hudson. As heartbreaking as the posts can be, it's a reminder of the complexities of life as you share the joy of baby #2 and the magic that he or she will bring. If you choose to share it with them one day, I think it will be therapeutic for your future children to read as they grow and mature and begin to grasp the tragedy of Hudson's death.

    It's an honor to read your blog and support you (even if only virtually) through your journey. I promise to be a witness to your grief for as long as you feel like posting.

  7. Ditto of what Kate C. says. We are still here with open arms and witnesses to your grief whenever you feel like sharing. Much love!

  8. Thank you for inviting us to share in your deepest thoughts Mandy. I appreciate visiting your blog everyday, whether there is a new post or not, just to say hello to Hudson and remind myself how precious and short life is...and to embrace the message of One Good Thing. Love you.

  9. I love that this is home and that Hudson's legacy will grow and be shared with her sibling(s).
    One for all and all for one.

    Thank you for sharing Mandy...

  10. We think of you every day, and I come to this space daily, even if it is to read the new comments from the insightful people who are sharing this journey with you. Your life will have many compartments, many layers, that it didn't have before, and there is no reason why they can't all overlap here.

  11. We have never met, but I stumbled onto your blog and read it, cry, cry, cry. You have so many gifts, and I am just so grateful that you are sharing so much of yourself with the world. I, too, am a mom. You help me rejoice in my motherhood---which is sometimes hard to do with all the white noise we compete with in the world.

    So many gifts. Girl, you are love defined. I wish you every good thing in the world. And I know your little girl Hudson is giggling, happy wherever she is. And she is so secure in her love from you and your husband. New life. You are blessed. You rejoice, too.

  12. I feel the same way about my blog - it encompasses my life, not just my grief and son.

    I'm glad that you're sharing everything, good, bad, ugly. Life isn't just one dimensional. It moves and undulates and we travel with it.

    Thinking of you.

  13. I agree completely. I read to share both your sorrow and your joy. You write when you need to and we will keep reading. xoxo.