Friday, May 13, 2011

One Year: A Letter to My Girl

Oh, my sweet Hudson. I just can’t believe we are here. A year ago today, we were forced to say goodbye to you, the joy and light of our lives, many, many decades before we were ready to do so. And even those many decades from now, it should have been you saying goodbye to us after we had gotten very old, after we had watched you grow up and light the world on fire, after we’d all had many years to love one another to pieces. My heart remains so very broken, sweet girl, for you, for your daddy and me, for everyone who loved you, for everyone who never got to know you, and for the world that never got to experience how you would change it if you’d been given the chance to live a long and, I am certain, amazing life.

When you were so cruelly stolen from us, I didn’t know how we would survive the first day, let alone the first month, and I certainly couldn’t picture our lives without you one year later. In many ways, I still can’t. We are living, certainly, but it often feels like we are living only half a life. So much still feels so empty without you, my girl. I am sitting here looking at the last picture we have of you, almost a week before you died, when you were noshing on those yummy black beans at the San Antonio Bar and Grill. You were getting so grown up already, filling out the high chair, learning to eat with a big person’s spoon, looking earnestly into the camera, face and arms covered in black beans, as if to say, “What’s so funny, Mommy?” I look at this picture and still just can’t understand how you will never get to be any older than that, that you will never get to be in any more of our family photos, that I will never get to look into those gorgeous eyes again in order to tell you how very much I love you.

So much has happened since you’ve been gone, my sweet Hudson, and yet the fact that the world has continued to turn after your death still feels so wrong sometimes. We’ve now lived through so many “firsts” without you—your daddy’s first Father’s Day without his little girl, the first Halloween, your birthday, the first Christmas, the first beautiful spring without you in it. Last week, I survived my first Mother’s Day without you, my girl, and I can only say that it was awful. And now we are waiting for your precious little brother to arrive and we are so incredibly sad that the two of you will never know one another on this earth. We just miss you so very much. Sometimes it is hard even to speak it because it hurts us so. I don’t know how we made it this far, my girl, but here we are. There are many moments where I feel like a life lived without you is hardly worth living, so woven are you into my heart and into the very fiber of my being.

And yet it’s because you are so much a part of who I am that I know that I must go on living, and living well. For you. For me. For the world that deserves to know how special you are. When you died, I promised you and myself that in order to help keep your spirit alive in the world, I would live the lesson that you taught me—to cherish what is, rather than dwelling on what should be. To look for the One Good Thing even when things seem bad. As it turns out, that is so much easier said than done, particularly in these very dark days that we must live without you. So many days, it feels almost impossible—how can I say that anything good could have come from you being gone? At any given moment, I would gladly trade back every ounce of wisdom I have gained from having lost you. I would gladly return to being my naively ignorant self if it only meant that I could have you back.

But I know that no amount of wishing can ever bring you back. So I must continue to let you teach me and guide me every day, sweet girl. You are helping me understand that it is on the very darkest days when I need to look the hardest for the One Good Thing. What an amazing gift you continue to give me, to give all of us.

So on this saddest of anniversaries, I commit myself again to honoring your life and your memory by finding the One Good Thing. When I look back over the last year, it’s easy to find many, many things to be sad about—we have lost so much. The world has lost so much without you in it. But it is not difficult at all to find things to be grateful for, all the little gifts that you have left for us, that you continue to leave for us each day. Because of you, the babies at St. Ann’s are getting a new education room, full of all the books and learning toys that you loved so much. Because of you, families and friends of other sick babies at the hospital where you died can now give money designated specifically for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit that took such good care of you. Because of you, our local library has more than 300 new and beautiful books for children of all ages to enjoy. Because of you, generations of people, young and old, will find a place to sit and rest, contemplate, or play on your special bench here in the Dogwood Collection at the National Arboretum.

But even more important than all of these very tangible impacts your life and spirit continue to make on the world are all the intangible gifts you continue to give all of us. Because of you, so many people around the world, even people who never knew you, are wearing your One Good Thing Bracelet, and living and sharing your lesson with others. Because of you, mommies and daddies all over hug their babies tighter. Because of you, so many of us are trying harder each day to let go of the little hurts and focus on the big love. Because of you, sweet girl, your little brother, Jackson, will grow up with a keen sense of what is truly important in life—love, laughter, family, giving of oneself, and living each moment fully and completely. He will know these things because of you, his big sister, Hudson. And in the midst of such deep sorrow, my girl, that is truly One Good Thing.

So today, when people at the Arboretum and all over the world blow bubbles to remember you and honor your life, this is what I will be thinking of. With each shiny bubble that drifts into the wind, I will be thinking of your great big heart, your giant spirit, your endless capacity for love and for having fun, and your very important lesson—I will imagine these things winding their way through the world, hopefully reaching others just when they need them the most. And in the many sad days in the future without you, the many sad anniversaries, the many more “firsts” we face, I will picture those Hudson bubbles and I will try to smile. That is one of your many, many gifts to me, my sweet girl.

You are gone but you should not be. But, following your lead, I will cherish what is— that your dad’s and my lives, and so many others, are changed forever because you were in them. Your smile, joyful laugh, mischievous ways, sweet voice, and wise countenance are indelibly burned on my heart-- I would do anything to hear you say “Mama” just one more time. You are gone but you should not be. Thank you for helping me cherish what is. I love you.

Oh, my girl, how I love you and miss you. You are my heart, dear one.


  1. Thinking of you Mandy and sweet Hudson. I send my prayers, love and
    hugs. It's really hard to find the words...and I'm so very sorry, just doesn't capture it.


  2. I sat on my steps this afternoon, praying for you to somehow feel held and supported on this worst of all days. I blew bubbles for Hudson, and I told Grady a story about baby Hudson, who was so special and amazing and important that, even though she was just a baby, really did change the lives of thousands of people. And tonight, out of nowhere, JH asked if we could sing "Twinkle"-- it's been months since I heard him sing this one-- and sang it again and again after I had turned off the lights and left the room. She is gone-- and she should not be-- but what was the most important, essential part of Hudson's spirit and soul will never be gone. Love to all of you.

  3. You and Ed have survived the unthinkable for one full year. That's One Good Thing to us who love you.

  4. She truly has changed thousands of lives across the world. THank YOU mandy for giving us the chance to learn the lesson of "One Good Thing" as well. Sending hugs.

  5. My dear Mandy... words alone cannot thank you for continuing to share your daughter's story with those of us who feel honored to know of it. Tonight I am remembering her spirit with you. While I know there are no words that will bring comfort in this dark moment, I hope that Hudson's smile will forever light the path ahead and that her sweet soul will continue to travel in laughter and in love. She has changed the lives of so many people who have never even met her, but who will continue to hold her legacy high and remember her through your beautiful words and pictures.
    Travel on Hudson... you are so very loved.

  6. We will never meet, but I am sending much love to your and your family. Thinking of all of you and sweet, sweet Hudson. What a beautiful soul!

    Love from Ohio!

  7. I have followed your blog for some time but have never written until now. At some point, I realized that we share this day, but for different reasons. Today is the day my first child (interestingly, named Jackson) was born. Sadly, I also follow a blog of a woman whose first daughter Charlotte was born still today, eight years ago...the exact same day my son joined our family. The past couple of years, I think of and honor Charlotte as I celebrate my growing son. Today and for May 13 in years to come, I will think of Charlotte and your sparkling Hudson.

  8. And again, my tears are a'flowing. Beautifully said, and AMEN to all of your one good things. Especially to hug your kid and not dwell on the stresses. It IS all about the love and each and every moment with your child, and Hudson smacked that into me quite abruptly last year at this time. Thank you Hudson, and thank you Mandy. All our love. XOXO

  9. Lots of love and best wishes for today and the coming days to all four of you. Kell x

  10. It's now a year and a day. Thinking of you all.

  11. I am so sorry it's been a year without your amazing little girl. Even never having met Hudson, I can see the vibrancy of her spirit and verve from her pics (an "old soul" indeed!) and from all of your evocative stories about her. It's so wrong that she's not with you.

    I wish you and your family continued peace in the days ahead, and hope that the arrival of Hudson's little brother brings immeasurable joy.