Thursday, September 15, 2011

Family Tree

Dearest little Hudson,

I am just missing you so much, my sweet girl. Today, I was playing with your brother in his room. He was doing his tummy time in his crib, smiling at himself in a mirror. So many times when I catch a glimpse of him, it is like I am looking at your face when you were this same age two and a half years ago.

As I sat there by his crib today, I looked at all the books on your bookshelf. You had so many favorites, ones that I know Jackson will love, too. But today I was looking at the many, many books that we never got to read together. You never got to experience the rumpus of “Where the Wild Things Are” or the adventures of “Madeleine” or the sweet lesson of “The Giving Tree.” You loved your books so much—I know you would have grown up loving reading just as much as I did as a little girl. I am so sad that we won’t get to share that together.

Every day, Jackson and I listen to music while we play. I play a station called “Toddler Radio” on Pandora because it has lots of silly songs that are fun to sing and dance to, and your brother giggles while I make exaggerated faces at him and do all kinds of crazy dance moves for him. But it also makes me miss you so much, sweetheart. You had lots of favorite songs, didn’t you? And fortunately for me, they were ones that I loved, too. “Seasons of Love” and “Wagon Wheel” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” We did lots of dancing and bopping our heads and swinging around. But listening to the Toddler Radio makes me long to have you here with us, now that you’d be able to sing along to so many of the songs: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Day-O” and “Under the Sea” and “Hakuna Matata.” And of course, you and I could sing “You Are My Sunshine” together to your sweet brother, instead of me holding him tight and kissing him and crying and missing you whenever I hear it.

But there’s one song that I hear that makes me sadder than others. I had never heard it before I started listening to Pandora for kids. It’s called “Family Tree” by a lady named Frances England. It tells the story of a little girl who is singing about her little brother who is on the way.  It goes like this:

Last night while everyone was asleep
I looked out my window, up through the trees
The sky was so big and covered in stars
I knew a baby brother or sister soon would be ours

Hey ho, our family of three
Is growing beyond my mommy, daddy, and me
Hey ho, just how will it be
When we add another branch to our family tree

I’ll be the protector, so strong and wise
I’ll be the cheerleader always by his side
This cute little baby will soon enough see
No one could love him any more or better than me

I’ll teach him all the things I’ve learned along the way
I’ll help him blow out the candles on his first birthday
We’ll grow up together, side by side
Take care of one another - full of love, full of pride

I cry a little every time it gets to the line about helping him blow out his birthday candles. I can only imagine what a wonderful big sister you would have been, my girl. You were such a loving and sweet little girl during the short time that we got to be with you. I know that you would have grown even more so as you got older. I have no doubt that you would have been your brother’s cheerleader, protector, teacher, and helper (and occasional torturer). I am so heartbroken for you and for Jackson that you guys don’t get to grow up together and experience all the awesome things about having siblings. I have brothers and sisters who I love very much, but they’re lots older than I am, so I didn’t get to have them as close playmates growing up. I was so excited for you to have that chance and be the big sister to one or more littles, which makes it even crueler that you were taken from us, that you never got that chance, and that Jackson and any others who come after him will never fully know how amazing their big sister was. It is all just so, so wrong, precious girl.

You will always, always be part of our family tree, but it is so wrong that we don’t get to have you here with us, that you are missing out on so much fun. There is never a moment when I am not wishing you were here. You are never more than a thought, a smile, or a tear away. But that is still just so very far, too, too far.

I miss you, my girl. Crying for you tonight.




  1. I found this recently. Henry Scott Holland is the author's name. You speak to Hudson so intimately and often, and reading always leads me to imagine her side of the conversation. You know better than any what she might have to say, and I don't intend here to speak for her. This gentle writing satisfied a small part of longing to know what her reply might be, and so made me feel touched in a way by her. Around the to speak. I love you dear sister. Kiss those boys for me.

    Death is nothing at all.
    I have only slipped away into the next room.
    I am I and you are you.
    Whatever we were to each other,
    that we still are.

    Call me by my old familiar name.
    Speak to me in the easy way
    which you always used.
    Put no difference in your tone.
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

    Laugh as we always laughed
    at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
    Let my name be ever the household word
    that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without affect,
    without the trace of a shadow on it.

    Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same that it ever was.
    There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
    Why should I be out of mind
    because I am out of sight?

    I am waiting for you,
    for an interval,
    somewhere very near,
    just around the corner.

    All is well.

  2. Mandy,

    I'm shedding a tear tonight, too, that Hudson won't get to do all those things as Jackson's big sister and that Jackson won't get to drive Hudson crazy as the little brother.

  3. Seeing my girls start to interact more and take on the big sister/little sister roles, I can honestly say that I think about Hudson and Jackson almost constantly. Personally, I'm in a very angry stage of grief right now so reading your words here and focusing on every ounce of joy that Jackson brings to the world helps temper that a little.
    Emma was so lucky to have had Hudson in her life at such a young age and to have gotten just the slightest taste of what an incredible "big sister" she was. It's maddening that Jackson won't have that too.
    He will, and does, have two parents who love him more than he can imagine and who will share his big sister's love with him through their words and actions every day. What an absolute joy he is (and that little crooked smile of his just melts my heart!)
    On a different note, we read one of Hudson's books at the library not too long ago and I was pleasantly surprised at how close that made her feel. Thankful for that collection and will be visiting it again soon.

  4. Hudson's death will always be a terrible tragedy and as you said, it will always be so wrong that she is not here. But she will always be a part of your family, your history, your story, the fabric of being in all of you. I hope that one day, when Jackson and any future siblings start asking questions to get to know her better, it will be therapeutic to tell them about their big sister, bittersweet though it will also be. I'm so sorry. Crying with you.

  5. Crying with you, Mandy. :-( Olivia

  6. I'm sitting here crying for you Mandy. For Jackson and Ed and your entire family. For Hudson.. wherever she is.. a big beautiful strong branch of your family tree.. forever.