Monday, January 10, 2011


Thanks to everyone who keeps checking in here. On days when I’m not writing, it’s usually because I don’t have anything to say. That can be good, because it can mean that I’m busy keeping busy and not drowning in the grief, or it can be not so good, because it can mean that I have nothing new to say that I haven’t already said a million times: I miss her, I can’t believe she’s gone, I still don’t know how to live without her.

This past weekend was of the latter kind. It was a long, hard, sad weekend. Not sad in the debilitating, can’t-stop-crying way, but sad in the low, constant thrumming way, the one that whispers constantly in my ear.

She is everywhere.

She is nowhere.

She is always here.

She is not here.

She is gone.

How can she be gone?

And on and on and on.

I emerged from the weekend to a Facebook news feed full of posts about this week’s snow. It is snowing across much of the southeast, and the northeast is supposed to get walloped by the same storm later this week. Right now, the forecast for DC is about 1-3 inches. Which is perfectly fine with me. In fact, I’d be OK if it didn’t snow at all.

Anyone who knows me well knows that these words are near blasphemy coming from my mouth. Anyone who keeps up with me on Facebook remembers my giddy school-girlish postings last February when DC got socked by two huge snowstorms within days of one another. I feverishly followed the Capital Weather Gang’s forecasts as both storms approached, eagerly awaiting news of the first flakes, accumulation totals, and closings. I called the hardware store in advance of the first storm to make sure we’d be able to get some sleds. I posted hourly photos as the snow piled up on our back porch. And I looked forward to getting our girl out in the snow in the perfectly fitted hand-me-down lavender snowsuit and pink boots that our friends, Jake and Andrea, had left behind for Hudson when they moved to San Diego.

I’ve mentioned before that our girl was a snow-lover, but I was planning to wait until February’s “Remembering” post to share the best photo and video memories of our time in the snow with her. But I’ve found myself so buried in aching nostalgia today that I needed to write about it today. And I can’t write about it without sharing the pictures and photos, for without them, you would never be able to grasp why the threat of snow, let alone actual snow, brings me to my knees with grief.

We had a small snowstorm on January 31, which gave us our first taste of how much of a snow-lover Hudson would be.

A week later, we got hit with one storm right after the other, both totaling close to 20 inches. Once the bulk of the snow had fallen from the first storm, we ventured out to start shoveling. When it first snowed in December 2009, I hadn’t come up with a good way to protect Hudson’s hands from the cold, and she tired of it fairly quickly. When the January and February snows rolled around, I pulled thick wool socks up over her hands and under the sleeves of her coat and then pulled her mittens on over top. This time, Hudson was absolutely delighted to be in the snow and could not get enough, as you can see (I only wish you could see more of her face in this video, but you can see in the pictures below).

Ed dug a tobogganing track in the front yard so that we could pull Hudson around on a sled in it. We invited all our Brookland parent friends over to join us, and Kate and Shawn brought Madelyn, who is about 5 weeks younger than Hudson, over to play. Both girls had a ball, as did their moms and dads.

At the end of that first day, Hudson had this adorable look that was the perfect combination of exhaustion, bewilderment, and anticipation for the next time she could go back out and have fun.

Over the next few days, she would get so excited to go back outside that she would grab her snowsuit from its drying spot and bring it to us, saying, “Ow-sigh!” One time, even though we weren’t ready to go out, she wanted so badly to put it on that I just let her.

Sometime during the next week, as we weathered yet a second huge storm, we decided to try our hand at sledding on a “real” hill, which was really just a gentle 20-foot long slope behind our local community center. We again invited our friends along, and at different times were joined by Kate, Shawn, and Madelyn, and Renee, Karen, and Amaris. As much as Hudson enjoyed crawling around in the snow, she loved sledding in it even more. I’m pretty certain that she’d have grown up to love roller coasters like her mama if only she’d been given the chance.

I mean, look at this smile:


These are the last memories we’ll ever have of our snow-loving girl in the snow. You can see why the reports we got of snow at home in North Carolina on Christmas Day felt like a giant punch in the gut. You can see why each flake, although beautiful, unique, and filled with precious memories that I would never want to let go of, also feels like a mockery, like sorry insult to injury, when our Hudson is not with us. And you can see why I’ve felt tad schizophrenic as I’ve kept checking the Capital Weather Gang’s forecast today—I simultaneously dread the snow but still love it all at the same time. I can’t help myself.

We love you and miss you more than we can ever say, little Hudson snowbunny. We’d give anything if only we could have you with us here, excitedly anticipating the snow, waiting for the flakes to fall, holding your snowsuit up to us, later sledding by yourself for the first time, getting rosy-cheeked from the cold, drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn by the fire with us. We’d give anything.


  1. Marcella's only sledding experience was with Hudson the day you guys watched her for me. Seeing how much fun they had - or at least Hudson had - has made me decide to put aside my bias aagainst the cold and snow and make sure we make some memories like you guys have.

  2. This post got to me more than almost any other one. Hudson's spirit-- that even though you only got to have with you for a short time was so magical that it made everything that came before her pale in comparison-- shines through in all of these pictures. I have found myself thinking a lot of you guys, and again that feeling of complete disbelief that we felt in May washes over me-- how in the world did this happen? I ache for you and Ed.

    I hope that, like she has so many times before, Hudson finds a way to touch you during the storms that this winter will bring.

  3. Oh, I love those adorable pink cheeks and nose! Hudson is so beautiful and so full joy and happiness. You gave her so many wonderful, priceless experiences in her short time here. I'm so sorry she's not still here playing in the snow with you right now. Much love to you, Mandy.

  4. I can't believe she's gone, either. It just seems impossible that such a spirited child as Hudson is no longer here with you. I'm not sure I'll ever fully grasp it. She should be here.

    I'm so sorry Mandy.

  5. We feel blessed to have shared some of these treasured memories with you, Mandy, Ed and Hudson. We'll never forget those happy days in the snow. It's left a great hole in our hearts to think that Madelyn won't have her friend to sled with this year when the snow comes.

  6. I wish your joy could have lasted forever Mandy.

    I'm so sorry Hudson is not here with you today.

    Linda Miller

  7. Oh, those cheeks!!!! That smile!!!! ((((((hugs))))) to you! We live in Fairfax County, Va and I had totally forgotten what all that snow looked like last year. You and Ed are wonderful parents -- wonderful parents! You've made such amazing memories -- and my heart breaks for you b/c you should be able to make millions more with your beautiful girl -- so many more. These photos are gorgeous - thank you for sharing them. Mariann

  8. During the first snowfall we had this season, Hudson was on my mind every moment of that day. Kate's recollection of sledding with Hudson inspired me to donate "The Snowy Day" to her library collection. These pictures are so beautiful and it's gut-wrenching that we won't have more snowy days to come to share with that gorgeous girl. Emma was too young for us to make those kinds of memories with her last year so I think some part of me is desperate for another significant snowstorm this year to see it through her eyes... just like you and Ed were able to do with Hudson. Lots of love to you.

  9. What a beautiful girl...what beautiful pictures...what joyful memories! She was such a gift...thank you, God, for Hudson, and for the strength to put one foot in front of the other. Mandy, we will NEVER "know" how to live without out children---we will simply DO it because we have to, and because there are wonderful days ahead. NOT perfect days---the only perfect day would be the one on which they somehow returned to us---but days filled with life and love, and happiness that does not have sorrow as it's constant companion.

    Love you, Mandy~

  10. Mandy,
    So often I read your blog and wonder how I would have survived the death of either of my children when they were little. I try to put myself in your shoes, which of course I cannot. But every now and then a post of yours hits home so hard, so directly at my heart, that I think I can feel a sliver of your pain. And it's always searing. This post, more than any other I have read, has hit to my core, and I weep for you.
    Thank you for making Hudson so real to me. Her delight, her insistence, her stamina are wondrous and amazing, and once again I am so incredibly sorry that she is, as you say, "everywhere and nowhere."
    Sending you big hugs.

  11. Like Melissa above, this post got to me more than most as well. I know it's hard to be grateful that you have all these wonderful pictures that you will be able to look back on and share with your future children--of course, Hudson SHOULD be there in REAL LIFE, enjoying many future snowstorms. But--the pictures are wonderful, and I'm glad you have them.

  12. My heart is aching for you guys. Love you and thinking about you today. xoxo

  13. Mandy,

    I am with you completely. I am hoping that it will be closer to 1 inch rather than 4!

    Hang in there.


  14. I'm so glad to see you have so many photos and even videos. She's beautiful! She loved the snow. You three look so happy.

    I pray for more happy days ahead for you. I know how grief is ever-present, even when life goes on.

    My heart breaks for you. I think of you often, even when I'm not visiting your blog.

    Hang in there... I know, you may not want to hear that. It will get better, but you will never, ever, ever forget, nor will you ever stop missing her.

    With love, Andrea

  15. This was lovely.


  16. I remember Amaris being a little cautious of sledding but Hudson was all about it. I treasure the memory of "first". Amaris' first play in the snow was with her friend Hudson. We miss you Hudson, so very much. Renee P.

  17. What a face ..what a smile..what a snow God made for her..

  18. She is your beautiful, precious, perfect snow angel.
    One thing that has struck me in this post... how beautiful all of these pictures are- how many of them fall together in succession, telling a story. How you have them of Hudson, of the two of you, and of her with Ed.
    Love and grace my friend....

  19. These are such beautiful photos, and I really enjoy getting to know your Hudson through the memories you share about her. I'm terribly sorry that tragedy has ruined so many things you love and enjoy (snow, Christmas). What a betrayal.

  20. What a snow baby! I love that Hudson would go and get her snow suit from the drying spot! She certainly knew what she wanted to do!

    I've just looked at the all photographs again, trying to pick a favourite. But I simply can't. I just love them all. Hudson had such wonderful facial expressions. Perhaps the one with her sitting and smiling? Such a kindly little smile. xo