I had the most astonishing dream last night. One in which I was so incredibly happy that the second I woke up and realized it was just a dream, I immediately burst into tears, right there in the bed. In the first part of the dream, I was at the emergency room. I don’t know why I was there, but my mother (who died almost eight years ago) picked me up to take me back home. We crossed across a back, secret side of the hospital where we saw some terrible things, and then crossed out into the front of the hospital where it was sunny and our car was parked at the bottom of a grassy hill. And there was Hudson, sitting on the grass. All of sudden my dad was there instead of my mom. I went over and picked up Hudson and said to my dad, “You know, they said that she was not going to make it this long, but here she is.” From what I understood in the dream, Hudson had had the same illness, with a traumatic brain injury, and had been given a short prognosis of time to live. But she had lived a while—she just hadn’t spoken at all during that time. My dad said, “Maybe we should get her checked out again.” I put Hudson back down and she leaned over and grabbed the front of her diaper and said, “My poop fall out!” and smiled (Before Hudson died, we had just started trying to gauge her interest in potty training by pointing out where the potty was, asking her if she was pooping when we could see that she was, and helping her learn that she had poop in her diaper. So when we’d ask her, “Hudson, where is your poop?” she would grab the front of her diaper.) I looked at my dad, astounded, and said, “She said a whole sentence!” I grabbed her up, looked her over, and started crying tears of joy. She was better. I tested her, saying, “What’s this?” pointing to her nose, and she said, “Nose!” “And what’s this?” pointing to her eyes, and she said, “Eye!” We went through other words. I was shaking with joy in the dream, sobbing over our good fortune that somehow she had recovered from this terrible injury and was going to be all right. I said, “Oh, my sweet girl, Mommy missed you so much!” That second, I woke up. It took me only another second to realize that I was lying in my bed, in my dark bedroom, and that Hudson wasn’t there. She didn’t recover. She didn’t live. She is gone. She is still gone. All the joy I had felt in my dream vanished, and immediately, I began to cry.
Later, as I tried to fall back to sleep, I wondered if this dream might be a product of my dread of today—the 6-month anniversary of Hudson’s death. There is so much terrible symmetry about this day—maybe the dream (and the waking from the dream) was just one more manifestation of that symmetry. Six months ago, we said goodbye to the most precious being we have ever known, the most amazing creature we could have imagined having the privilege to parent. We said goodbye to her in a hospital room a few hundred yards away from the room in the hospital next door where she was born only 17 months and 12 days earlier. Six months from now, we will be preparing to greet our second child (or, if the Little Penguin is anything like its older sister and decides to arrive 10 days early, we may be in the process of greeting it) in a hospital room a few hundred yards away from the room where we said goodbye to Hudson, and only a few feet away from the room where we welcomed her two and a half years before. I know that many folks might encourage me to see the glass half full today—yes, it has been six months since Hudson died, but it is only six more months until we welcome the new baby. And that is true. And I am grateful that we are having another baby. But today, my glass feels not just half empty. It feels almost all the way empty, because Hudson will not be here to welcome that baby with us, and that is just so totally wrong in every possible way.
I have tried in the past to spend these month anniversaries remembering my girl, and I will do that today, too—but for reasons that I don’t even really understand, today is different, and I needed to acknowledge that.