Friday, March 11, 2011

Reality Bites

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.


  1. What strikes me here is that you know you will live extraordinary lives with your children, despite the grief, despite trying to find a balance, despite the overwhelming reality of loss.

    Thinking of you, always, still.


  2. Oh Mandy... I just hopped online and saw this post and you have been on my mind the past few days. When you posted the pics of little Hudson in the snow, and the ones of you holding her with happy, tender, motherly love, I was struck once again by the enormity of the loss of that bright, innocent, little girl. And my heart continues to ache for you and your "harsh reality."

    And, all I can do is bear witness, lift you up in my thoughts, and send virtual love your way.

    Take care, friend.


  3. Hi Mandy, I was thinking about this just the other day - about how I know Jackson will bring you all so much joy but that his birth could also bring new layers of grief because Hudson won't be there to share in the joy. I'm so sorry that you have to cope with so much anxiety and grief. If it helps at all, none of us who knew Hudson will ever forget her and none of us believe that once Jackson is here your grieving process (or ours) will be healed or done.

    I do know that you will be a phenomenal mommy to Jackson - really you already are.

    We are here for you now, and we will be here for you after Jackson's birth.

    love, Kate

  4. I'm so sorry Mandy that you two have to go through this. Words can't express the heart ache that we feel for you and Ed, that you two have to go through this pain. Why does life have to be so unfair?... especially to children. We too wish we could go back in time and change things about that one fateful day, for us it was October 19, 2009. Am always thinking of you four - you, Ed, Hudson, and Jackson. Sending extra hugs to you today! - Jennifer Lewis

  5. Extremely moving post, Mandy. Something about it felt very important to read- maybe because you so eloquently convey the complexities of your emotions, and the overwhelming feelings and realities of "forever". It literally took my breath away to think of what "forever" means in the context of Hudson's death. And I found myself, after months of following your blog, stunned. And sad. But also honored to "know" you and witness your love for both of your children that shines through in all your posts.

    I am so very, very sorry Mandy.


  6. It's amazing how we find ourselves staring into that cursed, gaping hole where sweet Hudson should be constantly. I can't wait to see glimpses of his big sister in Jackson but those moments will pale in comparison to the thought of having her still here.
    Loving her and missing her and aching for you and Ed...

  7. Mandy,

    As always, your honesty and candor are remarkable. The hole is so unbelievably huge even for those of us like me who never got to meet sweet Hudson in person. I cannot wait to see Jackson's first pictures but very often think about how very cruel it is that Hudson won't be in them with you, Ed, and Jackson. I'm so sorry, and I'm here for you.

  8. Your family photo is forever altered. The hole in your heart is there. You are so sad, and there is a reason. I know that Jackson will feel so loved, and will love you and Ed so much, but you are right: Hudson should be there.
    I'm so sorry, Mandy, and I wish it were not this way.

  9. I know, Mandy, this totally sucks.

    Before I had Ryan, I thought once he arrived our family would feel complete because I would have three kids again. How wrong I was. Even though we had never planned to have more children before losing V., I now felt a longing for the four I thought I should have. YOu are so right when you say you could have 10 kids and still be wishing for the 11th.

    It was then that I recognized that the pain and emptiness will never go away and are just a part of who I am now. Not necessarily at the forefront, but always there.

    Shitty luck, isn't it? But then I think about all the tragedy in the world and realize none of us is immune. Some lose children. Some lose spouses too young. Others just have a chronically crappy existence by virtue of an unfulfilling marriage or meaningless job or what have you. It's just the nature of life. Got to take the bad with the good. Not trying to's just what I tell myself when I'm having a particularly bad day.

    Hugs to you, Ed and Penguino..and thinking of Hudson always.

  10. Dear Mandy,

    I cried reading this is just unfair sometimes and that's a reality too. I truly feel for you.

    I was in my second trimester with Dempsey when Savannah was diagnosed with her terminal illness. I remember thinking the same as you, that this new baby would help.

    And Dempsey has helped me to realize how lucky I am to have her, however she has never filled the void of losing Savannah. Dempsey will never replace or heal that part....just my experience however.

    When you bury a child, part of your soul gets buried too.... Your new precious boy will help you to love again however also to be terrified of losing him too, along with some moments of longing for Hudson to be his big sister. I still cry today at what both Savannah and Dempsey are missing out on in this life.

    Sending you a hug,
    Diana x

  11. You are so honest about your feelings, your hopes, your sadness, and I think that's got to help you heal in the long run, although I know the pain will never go away. And I'm just so sorry. I'm glad you can look forward to the joy that Jackson will bring you.

  12. Often, as I read your posts, I think of something that I want say, but then I read further and feel like what I was *going* to say becomes lost in translation...

    At any rate, what I most want to say tonight after reading this is that you WILL always miss Hudson, simply because of the fact that Jackson is not a *replacement* for her. Not that you have ever insinuated that he is, but that's just what struck me the most ~ just the fact that of course there will always be a huge gap in your lives. Hudson was Hudson. Jackson is Jackson. Hudson is gone. Jackson will be here. Hudson will always hold her own special place in your hearts & lives, and while Jackson will definitely bring you joy & happiness & love & smiles & everything wonderful about being a parent again, there's just no replacing Hudson. And there shouldn't be. So of course you will always see an empty spot in pictures, and feel an absence in your lives. It's totally natural to want them both, because that's how it *should* be. It's just very unfortunate that it's not that way. ("Unfortunate" is a gross understatement, but I couldn't think of an all-encompassing word to sum up how badly this whole situation just sucks...)


  13. This is a huge realization, and this post touches deep down. I send you strength and hugs, and reminders of the circle of support and love you have from your family, friends, neighbors, and readers.

  14. Hi Mandy and Ed - It's been a while since I commented but I am always reading :) I just wanted to say that despite the pain and the permanence, you are extraordinary and yes you will lead extraordinary lives with your children. You are extraordinary parents. Hudson has a permanent place in your family and all of ours too. Her absence does not dull her message, her sunshine filled smile, or the fact that she was extraordinary.

    Sending you smiles and love always,
    Alex K.

  15. I too have been thinking of you often Mandy and haven't posted in a while. Looking at these pictures take my breath away and bring tears to my eyes. She is so beloved. Erin H