Last February was full of some of our favorite memories with Hudson. There was the massive blizzard in DC, which I’ve already written about, during which we learned that our girl was a true snow-lover. There was the UNC-Dook game, the traditions of which she fully embraced, even though she had no idea what they meant (but she would have learned soon enough). And then a few weeks later, when we were still digging out of the last remnants of the snow, Hudson’s Grandma and Grandpa came to visit from North Carolina for a weekend.
What a day we had out on the town. We didn’t let a little cold and snow get us down. Grandpa and Daddy took turns with her in the backpack and we were unstoppable. Well, with the one exception being that we didn’t have any mittens for her (not that she’d have kept the little toddler mittens on) and it was really cold. We brainstormed about what to do and were almost about to stop at one of the tourist gift trucks on Constitution Avenue to buy some socks (which we’d learned during the snow were highly resistant to removal by a toddler) when Ed said she could just wear his gloves. Hence this silly look. But hey, whatever works.
We started the day at the National Building Museum, one of my favorite places to take Hudson. The building itself is beautiful, with a massive atrium forming its center, perfect for little ones to run around with wild abandon. In the middle of the atrium is a fountain, so any time spent running around the atrium also meant keeping her from running straight into the fountain, which I have no doubt she would have done if given the chance. She was fascinated with it. The real attraction of the Building Museum for kids, though, is the Building Zone, a small room off the center atrium full of toys to construct things with. There are cardboard bricks, bean bags, bags full of scrap fabric, a toy house, Tinker Toys, wooden blocks, large stuffed blocks that kids can stack high and then knock over or fall into, and many more. There’s also a kid-sized house with a kid-sized door and kid-sized windows and kid-sized windows chairs that little ones can explore. The Building Zone was always a favorite with Hudson.
Unfortunately for us, on this particular day, the Building Museum was hosting some sort of science and engineering expo for middle schoolers, so the Building Zone was closed and the atrium was packed with people and displays. Did that stop Hudson? What do you think? No way. As soon as we put her on the floor, she was off. I used to worry that she had so little fear—she’d just take off not even knowing if we were behind her. And when we went after her, she just tried to go faster. Miss Independent. That’s exactly what she looks like in these pictures.
Since the Building Museum was a bust, we headed to the Museum of Natural History instead. The mammal room was always a hit with Hudson. So many of her favorite animals were there, including some massive lions, in front of which she was always eager to stop and practice her signature “RAWR!”
Once she’d had her fill of the Museum of Natural History, we headed across the street to the ice skating rink in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery and stopped to watch the skaters for a bit.
Then we happened to see the carousel on the other side of the mall. Somehow we’d never really noticed this before, and we were surprised to see it open in the winter. Hudson had been on a carousel once before, but it was inside a suburban mall and wasn’t nearly so grand as the one on the National Mall. Grandma and Grandpa decided they had to take her. Very few people were in line for the carousel in the middle of February, so we didn’t have to wait, and there were probably only one or two other kids on the ride. Grandma and Grandpa loaded her up on the best “horse” of the carousel, a beautiful dragon seemingly colored just for her. Her daddy tried hard to catch a good photo of her each time they came back around to our side, and her Grandpa kept trying to get her to wave at Daddy, but the carousel was going just fast enough that it was hard for her to pick him up in her line of sight in time to wave before they had already passed by. The series of photos are priceless in spite of, or perhaps because of, this silliness.
As we wound down our adventures on the Mall, we headed to McCormick and Schmick’s for dinner. A chain steakhouse with massive mahogany walls and white tablecloths might seem like an odd place to take a toddler for dinner, but as it turned out, it was just perfect for this particular toddler. As we waited for our food, and throughout our meal, at any time when Hudson would get a little antsy in her highchair, one of us would just pop her out and do a little lap around the restaurant. Hudson was loving it, and everyone loved her (imagine that). She’d walk, stop in front of a table, peer up, and turn on that Hudson smile, at which point every person at the table would break into a huge grin and begin talking to her. She was a hit. She was so magnetic—it’s amazing to think about where that personality would have taken her if she’d had the chance to grow into it.
It is February, which means that I only have two more months’ worth of these memory photos from Hudson’s happy toddler days to share, plus one final photo we took in May the day before she got sick (one you’ve seen many times if you read here regularly). It means that in three months, we will begin making new memories with Hudson’s little brother that will not include her, at least not physically. That makes my heart so very heavy. The idea of continuing to move forward without her is sometimes just so overwhelmingly sad that I don’t even know what to do with it. I am so grateful for every single memory with her—they still play in my head just like high-definition movies—but I remain inconsolable that we will never make more. It is all just so very wrong.
I miss you, my girl. I miss you so incredibly much.