I keep this blog in a Word document and then copy and paste each post into Blogger. This morning, I did a word count. 250 single-spaced pages. 141,082 words. 2034 paragraphs. 10,965 lines. 748,674 characters. That’s a lot of writing. I wonder, then, how it is that I so frequently come to these days, often several days on end, when I feel like I have nothing new to say. Many days (and until recently, most days), something happens that moves me to write—maybe a memory, a song, a smell, an encounter, something that gives me some new insight into this awful process of learning to live without my little girl. So what happens on those days when I don’t get those new insights, when I am not moved to write? Certainly the grief is no less. If anything, those days often feel heavier without the catharsis of writing, without the new understanding of the grief, without the greatly appreciated new insights I receive from you all, who so often help me look at something in a different way than I had considered before.
On those days, when I have nothing new to say, nothing new to consider, the harsh reality of the everyday just settles in, like the phlegm in my chest that I can’t get rid of for weeks on end after a cold. Hudson is dead. Dead. I see her in pictures in every room of our house. I see her everywhere in my mind’s eye. I hear her words and her laughter in my head. But she is not here. I will never see her bright face and smile in front of me again. I will never hear that precious voice talking to her daddy while she takes a bath or calling, “Mama!” from the top of the stairs ever again. She is never coming back. She is never coming back. On these days, every time I pass a mirror, every time I pass her picture, I can do little more than shake my head and think, “How the fuck did this happen? How did we get here?” followed immediately by, “I can’t believe this is my life. MY life. I don’t want this to be my life.”
These days, the harshest reality is this: in about two months, we will welcome another child into our family. There is no doubt in my mind that Jackson will bring us joy again. His mere existence has already brought us joy, but having him in our arms will help begin to fill some of the vast emptiness that has pervaded our lives since Hudson died. And yet. And yet. I remember soon after Hudson died reading the blogs of other grieving moms who had subsequent children within a year of losing a first child. I remember being struck by how much their grief still pervaded their everyday lives even after their second children were born. I remember feeling sorry for those second kids and even feeling a little bit of disdain for the moms. Oh, how stupid and naïve I was. I can only attribute that idiocy to still being in utter shock at the sight of the shattered pieces of my life surrounding me—I had absolutely no grip on the reality of what had just happened to us, and how FOREVER it was. I went through that period where I thought if only I could get pregnant, the pain would lessen as the hope of new joy began to filter in through the cracks. If I could only have another child in my arms, the enormity of losing Hudson would begin to seem smaller.
Oh, how stupid and naïve I was. The harsh reality now is that the hole that Hudson’s death left in our lives will always be enormous. Having Jackson will certainly help begin to fill it, as will having more children down the road and living extraordinary lives with them. But that hole will never be filled. I will never stop looking for who is missing. Having another child will help my arms feel less empty, but I will still look with deep longing at all the families who have two children, especially those with an older sister and a younger brother. Even if we had ten more kids, I would always be looking for the eleventh.
The harsh reality now, the one that I’ve only recently allowed myself to even admit, is that part of me wishes this were Hudson in my belly, that somehow, magically, the world would let me have her back, and then have Jackson next time around. I love them both. I want them both. I love and want Jackson so much, but I want him to have his big sister. I love my son, but I want my daughter back, too.
And the harsh reality is that I can’t have her.