Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Halloween

My sweet little girl,

Well, it is Halloween again. I’ve been feeling so much sadder over the last few days. I knew Halloween was coming up, but today I realized that not only is it Halloween, but it is our second Halloween without you, sweetheart. So begins our second everything without you—Halloween, Thanksgiving, your birthday, Christmas… I thought the firsts of everything would be the worst, and it’s true that so many things are different this year than last year, especially the joy your little brother brings us every day. But I remember another mommy who lost her child telling me that the second year would be worse, and now I understand that, too. The first time around, it was all still so unreal, almost like it was all just a mistake still to be corrected, a bad dream we just had to wake up from. But the second time comes around and you’re still not here—it is like the beginning of understanding, maybe even for the very first time, that you will never be here again. This will never change. There will be third, fourth, tenth, twentieth Halloweens, Thanksgivings, birthdays, and Christmases without you, and no matter how many go by, you will never be here again. This second Halloween is the first time that has really hit me.

What would this Halloween have been like with you? We carved pumpkins this year—we were too sad to do it last year. I know you would have had so much fun scooping out the pumpkin guts and helping us design a face. This year, we made one especially for you. And we’ll make one like it every year to remember you. Next year, Jackson can help us. 

I wonder what you would have wanted to dress as. Your monkey costume was so fitting for you two years ago, but I am sure you would have chosen your own this year. Your friend Emma dressed as an airplane, I think—I can see you wanting to be the same thing. But you would be twice as old as when I last knew you—who knows what you would be into now? We would have had so much fun at the Halloween party at St. Ann’s. At your only Halloween, you and all your friends were so little that all we could was prop you all up on the couch to take your picture together. Now you would be running around after them, screaming and laughing. And we’d have gone trick-or-treating tonight, although I don’t know how much candy we would actually have let you have. Maybe a few pieces and then we’d cross our fingers that you wouldn’t notice the rest disappear. I just don’t know, sweetie. I wish I did.

Your daddy and I debated several times about whether to take your little brother to the pumpkin patch this year. We knew it would be sad to be there without you and we also knew Jackson was probably too little to get much out of it. Ultimately, we just didn’t go. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision—it just kind of didn’t happen.

But I still wondered whether I’d later regret not taking him to a pumpkin patch for his first Halloween. Whether I’d regret not having those sweet pictures like the ones we have with you. Whether I’d feel awful trying to explain to him one day that the reason we didn’t really celebrate his first Halloween is because we were still too sad about you being gone.

So this morning, when my lunch plans fell through and your brother wouldn’t take a nap in his crib, I figured a long drive out into the country was just what we both needed. I was right. I dressed Jackson in his penguin suit and he fell asleep in the car while I enjoyed the quiet time and the gorgeous leaves on the road out to Homestead Farm where we took you two years ago. On the way there, I realized that going out there had very little to do with wanting to make sure we had pictures of your brother in the pumpkin patch (although now I’m very glad that we do). All I really wanted was to feel close to you on this sad day, and I hoped that this place that is so full of sweet memories of you would help me do that.

And it did. As I had anticipated, there were hardly any people at the farm. It’s a Monday, so everyone is working and in school, and anyone who wanted a Halloween pumpkin probably already had one by now. All the pumpkins and apples were already picked, so it felt a little empty and sad, but strangely, it felt happy, too, like I could almost hear the echoes of children who had been laughing and running around there just yesterday. It reminded me of our life here without you, really. Jackson and I took a long, quiet walk around the outside of the apple orchard, and I took some pictures of him with the animals, and in the hay, and with the pumpkins, just like we did with you. Before Jackson was born, I used to think that taking pictures of him in the same places we used to take you would be somehow morbid or awful, as if it would seem like we were just trying to fill your space with him, even though I knew that could never happen. But what I realize now is that these photos help me feel like he can somehow be with you, not be you, but be with you. The idea of him sitting in the same places you did, smiling at the same animals you smiled at, riding in the same wheelbarrows you rode in—it helps me imagine that even though you are gone, you are still with him somehow. Still with us somehow.

When your daddy got home tonight, we visited a little bit and then he started to make his way upstairs with Jackson to give him his bath and put him to bed, just like he used to do with you every night. Right as he got to the foot of the stairs, the version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that we think of as yours came on my iPod. Daddy and Jackson came back into the kitchen and we stood there together and hugged each other. Daddy and I cried for you, dear heart, both of us wishing so much that you could be here. Your brother smiled at us, so innocent and oblivious to our sadness, just happy for our company. And we couldn’t help but smile, too. Your Aunt Jess says she is convinced that song always comes on for a reason. I have to agree with her. Thank you for that precious gift tonight, my girl.

We love you and we miss you desperately, Hudson, on this, our second Halloween without you.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I want to thank everyone for all the very kind comments and messages after Monday evening’s post. As usually seems to be the case, the anticipation of the day was worse than the day itself, although the next day was considerably harder. I spent most of Tuesday feeling like I was carrying a large stone around my neck, or like someone had a vise on my heart and kept squeezing it tighter and tighter. It was not unlike how I felt almost every day back in the very beginning. Perhaps psychologically there is something more awful about her having been gone LONGER than she was here. Who knows? But it’s yet another terrible milestone that I’ve somehow survived.

I debated on Monday about whether to post about our latest sad milestone and Jackson’s 5-month birthday on the same day. Both of them seemed to deserve a day of their own. But it occurred to me that just as if Hudson were alive, she and Jackson will still have to share many, many things throughout the rest of our lives as a family. And we’ll all learn a lot about loving each other in the process.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I am possibly managing to carry all of this at one time. Every day with Jackson brings a new joy—he is the smiley-est, giggliest baby I ever saw, and he is such a gift. Sometimes, I look at that smile or we’re in the middle of cracking each other up, and I just start to cry, right in the middle of my tears. I am so happy and so sad all at the same time. Often it feels like my heart might actually burst from all that it is holding inside. And we’re still only at the very beginning of this very long journey without Hudson.

But it’s very little wonder how I am managing it all. My friend Kell, another grieving mom, recently shared the following with me in an email:

“On the nights where I go to bed and wonder how I got through the day, I think it’s because those are the days where I’m being carried by the thoughts and prayers of family and friends.”

And of course, she is right. I feel the same way. I have felt it from the very beginning of this long journey, from the very first time I posted on Facebook that Hudson might be facing a life-threatening illness. And Monday was no different. It was one in a long string of moments and days where I have felt that I was being carried.

I remain so grateful to all of you, each and every person in my real life and in my online world, who has at some point (or in some cases, continuously) carried me. Thank you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

529 Days

Sweet, sweet girl—

Today is the day. Today is the day that you have been gone an entire lifetime. Your entire lifetime. We got the honor and joy of living with you here on earth for 529 days. And today, you have been gone for 529 days.

What has hit me the hardest about this is realizing how very short a time we got to spend with you. As this day approached, all I could think about was how the last day you were with us still seems like yesterday to me. Even though so many days since you died have seem to crawl by interminably, the time has still been so very short. And when it occurred to me to actually count the days that you lived, I was shocked to see how few they were. Your entire lifetime was only 529 days. 529. I’ve already gotten to live 13,047 days, what I hope is not even half of my lifetime yet, and you only got to live 529 days. If I am lucky, I may still get to live your entire lifetime more than 30 times over. I can’t say enough how very wrong it all is, Hudson. How heartbroken I will be forever. You were robbed. We all were robbed.

Most of the time, I still can’t even believe you are gone. And yet you have been gone as long as you were here. Last weekend, your daddy, Jackson, and I came home from a visit to see all of your grandparents, and I found myself disappointed to realize that you were not waiting for us here at home. I don’t understand how it is that my brain can still think that way, but there is just part of me that still refuses to believe that you are gone forever, that I won’t ever get to see you again in my entire lifetime (your lifetime so many times over).

And I miss you. Oh, how I miss you, love. I spent some time with one of your friends the other day. She is about six months younger than you, so she is about two and a half now. I couldn’t believe how much she was talking, asking questions, making us laugh, learning all about the world around her. It was amazing to think how you would be if you were here, six months farther ahead than she is. It was nice to have some idea what you would be doing, but it also made me so sad that all we can do is imagine those things. All we can do is watch your little friends grow up, as they live their whole lifetimes. All we can do is watch them and imagine them as you.

How I wish I had thousands more days with you, my girl. How I wish I had many, many more of your entire lifetimes to live with you. I never dreamed I would not get thousands of days with you. Thousands of days to be your mommy, and later, your mom (because I imagine you would eventually think you were too old to call me “Mommy”).

I want you to know that I would have tried so hard to be a good mommy and a good mom to you, Hudson. I would have helped you learn to use the potty, to swim, to tie your shoes, to ride a two-wheeled bike, to read, to write your name, to write stories. I would have kissed all your booboos and made sure you had your own special band-aids for them. I would have sat with you and stroked your forehead and served you ginger ale and soup and crackers when you were home sick from school. I would have helped you sell whatever crazy things you’d have to sell for your school fundraisers. I would have helped you create awesome Halloween costumes. I would have hugged you tight and wiped your tears when you got your heart broken for the first time. I would have come to all your games (or your band performances or your plays or your recitals or whatever else you liked to do) and I would have cheered you so loud that it embarrassed you, at least until you told me to stop. I would have helped you with your homework. I would have helped you shop for school clothes. I would have taken you to look at colleges and tried to help you make the best decision about where to go. Or if you decided that college wasn’t exactly the right thing for you, I would have tried to help you figure out what was the right thing. I would have called you at 7:19 AM every December 1 to wish you happy birthday and remind you how much you changed my life in so many wonderful ways. I would never have let you pay for a meal. I would have always given you gas money when you left our house to go back to wherever you lived. I would have stocked your refrigerator with groceries every time I visited. If you got married one day, I would have helped you plan whatever wedding you wanted. And if you had children one day, I would have been there when they were born and would have smothered them with grandma goodness. I would have stayed and helped you as long as you wanted me to, or if you didn’t want me to, I would have bitten my tongue and gone home.

But even more important than all of these tangible things I would have done (all of which are just my romantic imaginings of what it would have been like to be your mother), I want you know that I would have always been there for you, sweet girl. I would have encouraged you always to be yourself, to love yourself, to love your body, to love your life. I would have encouraged you to try things even though they were hard. I would have encouraged you to fail spectacularly at things, and I would have been there to help you back up, but only if you wanted me to. I would have encouraged you to dream and create and laugh and love, and to do all of those things with wild abandon.

I would have been there for you, sweetheart, as long as I was able, for your whole lifetime. I guess in a very strange and bittersweet way, I am lucky as a mother that I did get to be there for you for your whole lifetime. But of course, I would give it back in a heartbeat in exchange for those thousands of days we were supposed to have together.

I am deeply grateful for every single second of each of the 529 days we had with you, my girl. And I have missed you and ached for you every single second of each of the 529 days we have had to live without you.

An entire lifetime already lived without you. An entire lifetime still to go.

I love you, my precious girl.



Jackson at Five Months

How is it possible that it is almost November? That Jackson is five months old? This past month has been a like a blink. I don’t even know where it went.

It’s been an exciting month for our little boy, though. At his four-month well visit, he weighed in at 18lbs 1.5oz (92%) and 27.5 in. long (97%). For comparison, at NINE MONTHS, his big sister was 17lbs 10.5 oz and 28 in. long! At four months, I think she weighed only 14lbs and some change. For the time being, this kid is a tank. I feel bad for him, though, because his growth is outpacing his development somewhat. He’s too big for me to carry him in the car seat anymore (and I’m pretty close to installing the toddler seat, I think—he’s about maxed out the infant seat), but he’s also not quite old and coordinated enough to know that he needs to hold onto my shoulder when I’m carrying him on my hip. Which made for a scary moment or two early on when he would arch backward before I realized he wasn’t holding on. He can throw his weight over easily to roll onto his tummy from his back, but for some reason, he still hasn’t figured out that he can roll back the other way (even though he was doing this pretty reliably at 10 weeks old). And he’s big enough to be riding in the child seat in the grocery cart and sitting in highchairs at restaurants (and we’ve just recently tried both, as you’ll see below), but he still can’t maintain a sitting position just yet. He’ll get there, but in the meantime, he’s a little bit like an awkward teenager who hasn’t grown into his body just yet. Maybe all that extra juicy fat on his thighs is what helps him take his shots so well, though. He barely squawked for the Pentacel, and although he screwed up his face until it was red and screamed when he got the Prevnar (which apparently burns quite a bit), that lasted about 15 seconds before he was back to his regular smiley self.

The big news this month is that he got his first two teeth. They came in at 4 months and 10 days. Again, for comparison, Hudson didn’t get any teeth until 6 months and 7 days. Jackson is managing them pretty well, though. After a few early biting incidents while nursing, he hasn’t bitten me again, thankfully. It’s amazing how the appearance of teeth go such a long way toward making them look more like little people and less like babies, although he’s definitely still baby-like—I’m not ready to let go of that just yet.

He’s growing so much more interactive every day. He will give a smile to just about anyone, although he has begun to eyeball strangers, and if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’ll stick out his fat lower lip and, if I don’t intervene quickly enough, let out a fearful howl. He’s finally begun to pay attention to books, enjoying both looking at the pictures and flipping the pages of board books. Yesterday, we were out for lunch at Chipotle and I had him in a highchair next to us (for only the second time). He started to fidget and I realized I hadn’t yet attached any toys to the puffy seat cover we use—I’m remembering so many of my Hudson tricks but only in piecemeal fashion. I remembered, though, that I still had my “just in case” book, “Put Me in the Zoo,” in my purse, the book I always kept in there for whenever Hudson and I found ourselves waiting in line or otherwise bored. I never could bring myself to take it out after she died. I handed it to him and he was occupied for the rest of the meal, at times mouthing the corners of a book already well-loved by his big sister, at other times looking as though he were actually reading it. He loves peek-a-boo, music, singing and dancing, and watching cars go by on the street.

We had lots of adventures this month, including two trips home to North Carolina (with Jackson’s first trip to the Old Well in Chapel Hill), his first (and second) trip to the zoo, and a trip to Gravelly Point to watch planes land. We haven’t been to a pumpkin patch. Ed and I both worried that it would just be too hard for us to go, remembering the wonderful time we had with Hudson two years ago and seeing so many other little kids who are the age Hudson should be now doing all the things she should be doing at a pumpkin patch. Our Brookland crew (all of Hudson’s little friends and, now, their little siblings) made a group trip to one last weekend while we were in North Carolina, and the photos just made me ache for the life we once knew. But I haven’t yet ruled out the pumpkin patch altogether. Even though I know Jackson won’t really get anything out of it right now, I wonder if I’ll later regret not having those photos from his first Halloween. So maybe we’ll still make a trip this weekend (when it will no doubt be decidedly more insane, since it’s the weekend right before Halloween, but oh, well).

And while it’s far too early to crow about this, I’ll just note for posterity’s sake that we seem to have had a very successful beginning to our sleep training plan this past weekend. We started at almost the exact same age we did with Hudson, the weekend before the 5-month birthday. We use the pick-up/put-down method from the Baby Whisperer books (when the baby cries, you pick him up and hold him just long enough for him to settle himself—no bouncing or shushing—and then you put him immediately back down, and if he cries again, you pick him back up, and you do this over and over again until he peters out and falls asleep). It worked in two nights with Hudson and seems to have done the same with Jackson (although he has been significantly more work in the meantime!). With Hudson, I was up with her for an hour and forty-five minutes the first night and 45 minutes the next, and then she slept through the third night. But she was only up the one time on both nights. With Jackson, he woke up at all three of his regular waking times, so I had to get up and do the pick-up/put-down multiple times, but the longest I was up any given time was an hour. Sometimes it worked in as few as 20 minutes. But last night (the third night), he slept through the night on his own—he woke up a few times and we heard him fuss for a few moments, once escalating just enough to where I got up and got ready to go in and pick him up, but every time, he settled himself back down and went to sleep on his own. And he’s doing the same for bedtime and naps, at least so far. Again, I know better than to begin boasting about any of this, but for now, it looks like the hard work (which I am really feeling in my back and hips from picking up and putting down an 18+lb baby a few hundred times, let alone just general fatigue from lack of sleep) may be paying off. The trade-off is a 7AM wake-up call (instead of the late snooze and snuggle we used to take in the morning), but I’ll take it if it means that he’s sleeping 12 hours in a row. I might finally be able to stop worrying about him being too sleep deprived. Now I just have to train myself to stop waking up and waiting for him to wake up. And to stop worrying that he’s not waking up because he’s stopped breathing, which is way tougher.

The older he gets, the more and more he looks like his big sister. It’s not constant, but there are times where I look at him and have the breath grabbed right out of me because I see her face there. And often a photo will turn out and the resemblance is just so striking. And the older he gets, the more I miss her, too. At each new stage of his development, I can just see how they would be interacting, how she’d be trying to get him to learn and do things faster than he’s ready to, trying to help us put him to bed or down for a nap, how she’d talk to him and sing to him and make him laugh. And the older he gets, the closer he gets to that age where she started to really take off as a small person, the closer he gets to doing all the silly things she used to do, and, eventually, to doing all the things she never got to do. To say that this time is bittersweet is an understatement of monumental proportions.

I am so in love with this little boy. And although I’ve certainly loved him and been in love with him to a certain degree since he was born, the bonding has changed over this last month. Maybe every parent goes through this with young infants—after all, that initial period is just so intense and the initial rewards so few (including really good snuggling and the intrinsic reward of realizing how amazing it is that you created something so awesome). I’m not sure if it was because I missed Hudson so much or what, but I was feeling intense guilt that I was having trouble enjoying Jackson more. I know better than most how important it is to enjoy every moment, especially when I think of my friends who are still waiting to hold another child in their arms after a devastating loss. And in the hardest moments, when I felt broken on top of broken, I was able to take a step back and see the big picture and remember how fortunate I am to have this precious child, how fortunate I am to have memories of his big sister to share with him. But these last few weeks have ushered in something new, something wonderful between Jackson and me, and I’m so grateful for it. And I felt somewhat better when I was reading my “Portable Pediatrician” last night where she notes that the bonding is very “intense” during this period, to the point that the parents have far greater separation anxiety than do the babies. So maybe I’m just normal and only think I’m not normal because the world in which I now live is not normal. Either way, I’m nuts over this kid, so I guess I don’t really care.

I’ve already posted a lot of photos from this month, but here are a few more in case you need a Jackson fix.

First trip to the Old Well at UNC

“HC”: big sis keeping his toes warm (and I think he looks so like her here)

First time riding in the grocery cart

First time sitting in a highchair

Jackson at One Month
Jackson at Two Months
Jackson at Three Months
Jackson at Four Months

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Music is such a powerful instrument for the grieving. If you read here regularly at all, you know how much it has been so for me. It has the power to soothe, to cheer, to help us find and touch the raw places when we feel the need, and, most powerfully, to conjure memories of our lost loved ones and the times we spent with them alive.

I heard U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” on my iPod last week and have been thinking about it ever since. Just a few notes of it and my reaction was visceral—I was overwhelmed by a memory.

When Hudson was seven weeks old, Barack Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States. Ed and I had campaigned for Obama all through the fall, raising money and knocking on doors and, on Election Day (with me 8 months pregnant), helping make sure that every person who wanted to vote would be able to. We met Joe Biden and Michelle Obama both, and impressed upon them how important it was to us that they win the White House, because if they didn’t, we feared for the world into which our first child would be born. I remember feeling my heart in my throat on our election night drive back from Richmond, where we were doing voter protection, when even our home state of North Carolina turned blue.

Jessica had come for a visit during the inauguration and while we decided not to brave the inauguration itself, we decided we’d go to the mall for the inaugural concert the day before. It was cold but not nearly as cold as it was on Inauguration Day. We bundled Hudson up into a warm winter suit, tucked her into the bucket car seat and stuffed all kinds of blankets around her. There were points where I was more worried that she was too hot than too cold. We took her on her first ride on the metro and once we got down to the mall, I sat on the grass and nursed her as if such a thing was totally normal. She promptly fell asleep and did us the favor of staying asleep the rest of the afternoon, even in the midst of all the din, waking only on the train back home but still not fussing.

Lots of stars sang at the inaugural concert, but none was so anticipated or cheered (at least by me) as U2. I had heard the expression “their spirits soared” before, but I’m not sure I’d ever truly experienced what that meant until I heard the first chords of “City of Blinding Lights,” the second song U2 played (after “Pride (In the Name of Love)”). I remember so clearly hearing Bono say what an honor it was for four boys from North Dublin to be there honoring the future president of the United States with a song he had chosen for his campaign. When Bono looked out over the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people and sang, “Oh, you look so beautiful tonight,” I remember thinking it must be true.

When I hear the song now, I still physically remember that feeling of my spirit soaring in that moment. Hudson’s birth had changed me forever and I had nothing but hope and optimism about our future together as a family. And standing there on the mall with all those people, our faces shining brightly from both the cold and the electricity in the air, I had nothing but hope and optimism for our country and the world.

So much has changed in not even three short years. So much. As I was preparing to write this post, I did some reading about “City of Blinding Lights.” I guess I was not even that surprised to learn that Bono has called it a song about “innocence and naiveté,” that its theme is innocence lost.

Can you see the beauty inside of me?
What happened to the beauty I had inside of me?

And the thing is, I can still see the beauty, and I still have hope. I hear that song, and it takes me back to a very distinct moment in my life, a time when my sweet girl was alive, when we were full of hope and expectation for her future, for our future. And although our lives are radically changed in the wake of Hudson’s death, even though I may never know hope in the same way again, I can still touch that place inside of me that knew that kind of hope. I have music to thank for that, and I’m grateful.

Some photos of our trip to the mall that day, and a video clip, from somewhere not too far from our vantage point, of U2’s performance:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Still Gone

This evening, we returned home from a lovely three-day weekend in Chapel Hill to a very quiet house. I turned melancholy almost the minute I walked into the door. It took me only a few moments to realize that what I was feeling was deep disappointment to come home and once again find that Hudson is gone. I didn’t even know that I was hoping she might be there until I got home and discovered, yet again, that she wasn’t.

She is still gone. One of these days, I imagine, that will cease to surprise me. But not today.

Life Bites

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would be sixty-six today if pancreatic cancer had not claimed her life almost nine years ago. Last week, I got a special reminder of her from my oldest friend, Katherine.
Eleven years ago, I threw Katherine a wedding shower. I sent everyone a recipe card and asked them to bring her a “recipe” for a happy marriage. Katherine recently found these among her things and thought I might like to see the one that my mom brought.

When I first opened Katherine’s note and pulled out the recipe card, the first thing that struck me was that I recognized my mother’s handwriting instantly. It took me only a few seconds to realize what it was Katherine had sent, but in those few seconds I had one of those surreal moments where I was transported back to a time when my mother lived, where I saw that handwriting on a semi-regular basis in cards and letters. In the years since she died, I have occasionally found one of these notes or some of her writing in the margin of one of her books. It always feels, just for a second, as if she’s written me something from somewhere beyond death, even if it’s not even directed at me.

This recipe was no different. The fact that it was a recipe was kind of funny, because one of the things I often complained to my mother about was that whenever I asked her for a recipe, she often couldn’t really give me one, because she just made things from memory, never the exact same way from one time to the next. My favorite example of this was when I asked her for a recipe for her Thanksgiving cornbread dressing. Her instructions included to add broth to my cornbread until “squishy but not liquidy.” Right.

Anyway, this recipe is for “Life Bites.” I have no idea if Mom intended the pun she created, but knowing her, it’s likely that she did. Here is the recipe.

Life Bites

Time required: Eternity
Serves: All

Ingredients (in proportions as needed):

Directions: Combine together for best results. Use as needed each one and all together when clouds arrive. Remember always that love is something you do no matter how you feel. And also that you are never alone. God will help you. Read Matthew 6:31-33* if consistency becomes too thin.

Store in your hearts.

Will remain fresh indefinitely.

This was my mother’s proposed recipe for a marriage, but it applies equally well as a recipe for living. The one ingredient that is conspicuously missing to me is humility. This is not surprising, given that this was one of my mother’s biggest blind spots. It’s not that she was overly proud—in fact, she suffered from severe self-criticism and low self-esteem. But these manifested as a near-inability to ever admit that she was wrong.  And of course, my version of faith is different from hers, but I think it serves me equally well. 

Among other things, my mother was a passionate, loving, intellectual, spirited, brave, and deeply wounded woman. She was very good at giving others advice but not so good at following it herself. Reading this recipe, I am both inspired and saddened. Inspired because she was certainly able to visualize the necessary ingredients for a life well-lived as she offered these wise words to a much younger woman embarking on a new journey in life. Saddened because she was generally unable to follow her own directions and ultimately died sad, unfulfilled, and lacking deep connections with those she loved most.

Today, I celebrate the day my mother was born. I honor her memory—all of it, both the ideals she believed in and her inability ever really to live them the way she would have liked. When I first learned that I was going to be a mother, I promised myself and my as-yet-unknown child that I would always endeavor to embrace everything that was wonderful about my mother and avoid everything about her that she would have changed herself if she had only known how. As I continue to learn how to mother both living and dead children, as I keep trying not just to survive Hudson’s death but to really live in its wake, I renew those promises.  I will try to heed my mother’s advice, even though she couldn’t.

Life bites, but love, forgiveness, faith, hope, thanksgiving, joy, humor, kindness, endurance, persistence, praise, understanding, and of course, humility, will see us through.

Thanks for the lesson, Mom. It came at a good time.  I love you and miss you. 

*Matthew 6:31-33:  “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Day With The “Ai-Panes”

Gravelly Point is a grassy park a few hundred yards from the runway at National Airport where planes scream as they come in for a landing just overhead. Another place we can go to feel close to our girl. “Ai-pane” was one of her favorite words, and picking them out of the sky was one of her favorite activities.  Her brother appears set to follow in her footsteps.

At Gravelly Point with Hudson (9 months) in Fall 2009:

At Gravelly Point with Jackson at 4.5 months in Fall 2011: