Saturday, April 30, 2011

Remembering Hudson at the National Arboretum

It’s the last day of April. The last day of a month that we filled with so many sweet memories this time a year ago.

Tomorrow, it will be May. May. The last month in which our girl was with us last year. The month our boy will join us this year. We are counting down the days to the terribly sad anniversary of our daughter’s death. And we are counting down the days to one of the most joyous events of our lives in our son’s birth.

As you know if you read here even semi-regularly, some of our fondest memories (and best photographs) of Hudson come from the many afternoons we spent with her at the National Arboretum, where she loved to toddle through the flower-filled meadows and trails. Now, thanks to the leadership of our friends Kim and Shawn, and the generosity of many other friends and family members, the Arboretum will soon install a memorial bench in honor of Hudson, fittingly placed in one of our favorite spot—the Dogwood Collection. We are very grateful to Kim and Shawn and to everyone who contributed to help remember Hudson in such a fitting and beautiful way.

On the anniversary of her death, May 13th, we will spend some time remembering Hudson at her bench. We invite any of you who are (or will be) in the DC area that day to join us in the Dogwood Collection at 3:30 pm that afternoon. We will not have a formal service, but we will share some words, a moment of silence, some bubbles, and a song with those of you who are able to come. The Arboretum closes at 5:00, and we understand that this may be a difficult hour for some people to join us. Please feel welcome to bring your children or dogs to share this time with us. Dress will be very casual and we will provide the bubbles, so no need to bring your own. There is no need to RSVP. The only reasons we might not have the memorial that day is if it is raining or if we are in the hospital with Jackson. So just check back here closer to the time to be sure it is still on.

If you are unable to join us, we would love it if you wanted to blow some bubbles in Hudson’s memory wherever you may be that day or evening and email me photos of them if you’d like—I will post them here on the blog afterward.  A friend has also set up a Facebook page for Blowing Bubbles for Hudson where you can also post photos if it is easier for you. 

The Dogwood Collection is at the far northeast corner of the Arboretum (you can find it on this map). Parking is available at the Dogwood Collection and at the nearby Asian Collection and Conifer Collection. You can also park on the sides of the nearby roads (just stay on the pavement) if these lots end up being full.

Unless the Arboretum changes its policies, Hudson’s bench will be around for at least 30 years. It will have a plaque with her name and some special words about her. We hope that you and many others will be able to visit her bench and find some quiet time there to smile, to play, or to contemplate, just like Hudson used to.

And now, as we close the bittersweet month of April and enter the bittersweet month of May, I wanted to share the beautiful photos from our final trip to the Arboretum with our sweet Hudson, in April of last year.  These are also the last set of photos we have of Hudson as a toddler, save one that was taken two days before she got sick.

Oh, my.  “Bittersweet” doesn’t even begin to describe how this feels.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


It is getting disturbingly easier to simply tell a lie or a half-truth during the “Is this your first?” conversation. Answering, “No, my second,” has become automatic. But answering the follow-up is still so hard. Last week I was walking Bess in the neighborhood and a woman I’d never seen before was walking in the opposite direction on the other side of the street with a double stroller, a girl toddler on one side and what I can only assume was an infant on the other. I could hear her telling her daughter that I had a baby in my belly. I tried to keep my eyes forward and walk faster as if I hadn’t noticed, but then she yelled across the street to me and asked, “How much longer do you have?” I looked up, smiled, and said, “About a month.” She said, “Is this your first?” I replied, “No, my second.” “How old is your older child?” she asked. My heart skipped a little, but before I knew it, I said, “Two and a half.” She then started to babble about the huge transition from one kid to two, but my brain was already on overload by that point so I barely heard her and kept walking. Two and a half? Two and a half? What in the world made me say that? What made me even imply that Hudson is alive, let alone that she is actually the age she should be now? I justified that response to myself by saying it would have been ridiculous to shout to a complete stranger across the street about something so personal and so shocking and so sad.

This morning, as I was paying for parking at the garage at the perinatologist’s office (this garage I have to drive through over and over again, remembering the last time we took Hudson to the pediatrician in the same building), the attendant asked when I was due and what I was having, and then asked if this were my first. When I replied that it was my second, he asked, “What do you have?” And I just said, “A daughter.” And he smiled and said, “Oh, well, you’re done! I have two daughters at home. I need a boy!” I smiled as best I could, grabbed my receipt, and pulled away, only to find myself in a mess of tears within seconds. Because of course, I won’t have a girl and a boy at home. Just my sweet boy.

I am so very tired of fielding these questions. It has become so much easier just to lie when answering them. And after today’s experience, I finally realized why. As both the one-year anniversary of Hudson’s death and Jackson’s birth approach, I find myself as unwilling as ever to accept that indeed, my daughter is dead, that her beautiful smile will never light up our home again, that she will never meet her little brother, that I will never get to hear her say the sentence, “I love you, Mommy.”

This realization has been building for days and days now. Ed and I have been dealing with this transition in pieces, tiny steps at a time. A few weeks ago, we started preparing for a neighborhood yard sale in May. We needed a “staging area” for gathering everything we wanted to get rid of, and the only place to do it was on top of a bed in our basement. But of course, this bed has been where we’ve put all of Hudson’s things that were scattered through the house—some of her baby clothes had lived already been living there in paper bags long before she died, and since then, we’ve just been taking things one by one down there and putting them on the bed. Boxes of toys, chunky crayons and finger paints, the car seat, her toddler tub, the Ergo carrier, the Baby Bjorn, the infant activity mat. So in order to clear off that space, we had to start going through it all, bit by bit. We sorted through all of her baby clothes (just the stuff that she wore up through about a year), pulling out anything that was too “Hudson” to ever use with another child (like her “Silly Monkey” onesie and her fleece-lined winter coat that she wore every day for the whole winter), sorting out those things that were unisex enough for Jackson to wear, and then boxing up all the other baby girl clothes in hopes that someday a little sister will get to wear them. I started washing everything else—the carriers, the car seat cover, the activity mat, anything that we’d end up using for Jackson.

Then this week, after news from the OB on Monday that I just might deliver within the next two weeks, I started washing all the clothes. We had put aside about a paper bag full of Hudson’s things that Jackson can also wear, and then I had several bags and boxes worth of boy hand-me-downs from three different friends. After I washed them, I started folding and sorting them. I took some time and cried over many of the things that had been Hudson’s, remembering moments and images of her associated with each—the “I’ve already learned that UNC>Duke” sleeper that she wore home from the hospital, the itty-bitty newborn jammies with turtles all over them, the red fleece monkey jammies she wore at around nine months, the salmon-colored Carhartt overalls her Aunt Jess gave her that she wore on her only visit to a pumpkin patch for Halloween, the Carolina onesies and other goodies her grandparents showered her with on a trip to Chapel Hill when she was about 4 months old, the fuzzy sleep sacks we dressed her in after we stopped swaddling her. After I finished folding, I had several huge piles of clothes for Jackson (truly, we will probably not need to do laundry for the first three months, so flush are we with onesies and playsuits and sleepers of all kinds—a circumstance for which I am incredibly grateful). They are still covering most of the couch and ottoman because I have no idea what to do with them. Once again, the logical place for them to go is in the dresser in Hudson’s (Jackson’s) room, but it’s still filled with Hudson’s toddler clothes. And I just can’t seem to bring myself to pack those away yet.

And then yesterday, I installed the infant car seat in the car (a full ten days ahead of when we got this task accomplished last time). It’s in the safest spot—the middle back seat—but it’s the spot where Hudson’s toddler seat used to live. And next to it, instead of Hudson’s toddler seat, is a bedsheet that covers the seat where Bess always sits. Bess doesn’t have to change seats to make room for a second car seat. I don’t have to train her to sit in the way back row to make room for two car seats. Hudson and Jackson will never sit back there together, giggling over a shared secret or bickering or hitting each other.

Piece by piece, bit by bit, we are transforming our physical spaces to reflect our new reality—a family of four with only three, two children but only one living. But even as we are making these changes, there is clearly part of me still just can’t (or won’t) accept the way things are. Maybe I told a stranger that my daughter is two and a half years old not because I didn’t want to deal with her but because I so desperately wish it to be true. Maybe I’ve stopped telling people that my older child passed away last year because all I can think about is the way things should be in a few weeks, all the photos we should be taking, all the chaos that should be turning our house upside down as we make the transition from one to two. I can’t tell you how much I dread the heartbreak of putting up a Facebook profile picture with only my second child in it. More and more frequently these days, I feel like I must be living someone else’s life, because I just don’t recognize this one as my own.

This past weekend, for the first time since Hudson died, we went to a birthday party for one of her friends, the last of all of them to turn two. It was an Elmo-themed party, just as Hudson’s would likely have been, and most of Hudson’s little friends were there, as were the little siblings of a few. There were parents there whom I had not met, and I imagine they just assumed that we had no older children and were just friends of the birthday girl’s parents. I surprised even myself by not going completely catatonic or otherwise losing it. Afterwards, Ed asked me if I was OK, and I told him that I guessed the key was to not sit there and constantly imagine how things should be, to not think about how Hudson should be among the oldest kids there, with the most words and the most tricks, leading her little friends in games, running up to show me the goodies in her party favor bag. As long as I didn’t think about any of those things and just tried to accept the situation for what it was, to accept that this is just how our life is now, then I could manage. Of course, it hit me hard later that day—how could it not?—but for those two hours during the party, I managed.

But how to “manage” the rest of the time, and for the rest of our lives? How to “accept” this new reality, this new life?

I don’t have the foggiest idea. The past few weeks have been hard. The next few will likely be even harder. And my brain seems to want only to deny.

“I have to say what is said. I don’t have to believe it myself.” ~ Ann Carson

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter, Sweet Hudson

This is a hard one. I am now only about a handful of photos away from the end of the huge digital memory pool of Hudson. And then there will be no more. I still have lots of unshared photos from when she was a baby, but I am coming to the end of those that memorialize the incredible little person she was becoming when her life was so cruelly and abruptly stolen from her.

As a non-Christian person, I see Easter as a celebration of new life and new birth (in part thanks to an explanation by a member of Jessica’s Unitarian Universalist church, who gave a sermon around Easter 2009 about the pagan origins of the festival of Easter and the corresponding symbols of eggs, for new life, and bunnies, for fertility). As I sit here this Easter morning, it is difficult not to think about the obvious symbolism it should hold for me, with my swollen belly as a very tangible sign of the new life that will greet us very soon and the hope engendered by that prospect.

And as much as I want to focus on that, it is just impossible not to think about and mourn what should be today. It is a gorgeous spring day here in DC, almost summer-like, actually. We should have spent the morning watching Hudson find her Easter basket, hunting plastic eggs in the backyard, decorating real ones here in dining room, and preparing for an adventure to the Arboretum or the zoo or Gravelly Point for airplane watching or some other place where a family of three, soon-to-be-four, with an active and curious toddler, should be spending a beautiful day like this.

But that is all in my imagination. In reality, I am sitting here, writing on this blog that I wish didn’t exist, and poring over these lovely pictures from last Easter, looking at every detail, every smile, every expression, every pose yet again, as if I haven’t had these images memorized since those early days after Hudson died, when every photo suddenly and shockingly became not simply a childhood memento which we could stock away to laugh and fawn over for decades to come, but part of the record of little girl’s all too short and so very sweet life.

I know I keep saying that each set of pictures I post is one of my favorites. These are no different. I guess when you only get 17 months of photos to remember your child by, they all quickly become your favorites. But as I’ve also said so many times before, these last pictures, these photos from March and April of last year… they just tell such a wonderful story of a life so very well-lived by all of us, and they capture so well the incredible joy that Hudson brought to our lives, joy that we so deeply miss and grieve now.

We started Easter last year with an early morning trip down to see the cherry blossoms, an adventure I posted about at the beginning of this month. We figured Easter morning might be a good time to avoid crowds, and for the most part, our strategy worked.

When we got back home, I “hid” some plastic eggs in the backyard and set Hudson loose with her new Easter basket to find them. She took to this task as if she’d been doing it for years.

A little later, we headed back in to decorate some real eggs. While we didn’t let Hudson do any of the actual dyeing (which might have been a little ambitious at her age), she was very happy with her job of putting stickers on them after they were colored. I absolutely love the looks of serious concentration on both of their faces.

Another of my very favorite pictures of our girl.  I think I’ve written before that I imagine this is the closest we’ll ever get to knowing what she would have looked like as an older child.  So much wisdom in that face, it seems.  Her teacher, Ms. Barbara, told us that Hudson seemed to have an old soul, like she had been here before. 

But the most fun I think all of us had was at the Easter egg hunt at Hudson’s school, St. Ann’s, a few days before Easter.  I feel like I must sound so repetitive, but gosh, so much of Hudson’s spirit just shines through these pictures.  She was such an incredibly happy kid.      

Offering the bunny an egg

Even better, offering him a kiss

Hudson and her friend Maddy

Oh, this picture makes me swoon.

Finding her first Easter eggs

I love the egg in her pocket (even though I put it there).

“So what do I do now?”

Do what you do best, sweet Hudson.  Smile. 

Happy Easter, my girl.  And Happy Easter, everyone. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Singing in the Dark

The past two mornings, I’ve been up around 3:30 or 4:00 AM to go to the bathroom. Both mornings, I’ve heard some crazy birds chirping outside—they didn’t seem to realize that it was not yet dawn. It was pitch black outside and the sun wasn’t even close to the horizon.

When I got back into bed after hearing the birds this morning, I thought of this quote from Rabindranath Tagore that I just read again in the last few days:

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

As we approach the first anniversary of Hudson’s death, I have been thinking so much about all of the other bereaved mothers I have come to know along this terrible journey. I was at the store yesterday buying a gift for the last of Hudson’s friends turning two this week. I ran my fingers over toy after toy and book after book that Hudson would be playing with or reading now, staggering under the weight of the many moments in the many years ahead of me when I will wonder What would she be doing now? And every bereaved parent, whether their child never took a single breath or lived many decades, must endure the same lifetime of imagining. As my friend Melissa commented the other day, “Life shouldn't have to feel like this.” So true, and yet it is the reality that those of us who have lost a child must live with every day. Forever. And my heart breaks for all of us.

But then there are those crazy birds singing at 4:00AM.

Some of the mothers I have met are still traveling the darkest parts of this night—still fumbling through the earliest days of this awful grief, trying unsuccessfully to conceive again after the loss of a child, coping with other terrible losses or health problems on top of grieving a child. Others have already emerged into that earliest light of dawn, having made it just to the other side of the dark hours, seeing the light for what it is and able to bask in its healing powers, but with the receding night still over their shoulders and oftentimes feeling like they are right back there in the dark.

And some of us, like me, are in that in-between world, where it is still completely dark, but not for long. We are clinging here, looking forward, looking backward, singing a quiet song, but only to ourselves. It is a still-mournful song, but one that is tinged with hope, just like the gathering pink light on the edge of the world at dawn.

I’ve been incredibly grateful for all of the company I’ve had on this road through the night. Though we are all at different points along the journey, there are parts of the journey that are universal. Ready or not, I am soon to be among those mothers who have been thrust already into the light, hopefully to find that it is better on that side than I could have imagined it would be. I will be one of those mothers like those I turned to in the early days when I was frantically searching for companionship, for evidence that I was not alone, that I could survive this, that there would be joy again.

I am not there yet. I still sometimes feel like I have no more distance or perspective on the death of my child than I did in the minute after it happened. There are many moments, especially recently, when it still feels like yesterday that I last saw her smile, like yesterday that we said goodbye. I’ve been on recent hiatus again from visiting most of my friends’ blogs, because, as I told one of them, I feel like I have shut off all non-essential functions while I try to get through the next month. I can still very easily be yanked right back into the darkest dark of that awful night. I still feel incapable of offering any newly grieving mother any words of wisdom that might be remotely helpful in that dark, because I still return there myself on a not-infrequent basis.

But my song is here. It is growing louder. I can feel it. I have faith that the dawn will arrive soon enough. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I am singing anyway.

Until I get to the other side, until I have something more to say to my fellow travelers about what awaits them there, I will share another song, one I heard yesterday for the first time, that immediately brought all of my bereaved mother-friends to mind. I hope that a day will come when we have all survived into the dawn, hesitant though we may be, tempted though we may be to return to the inexplicable comfort of the darker part of the night. Until then, the one thing I can say is that you are not alone in this. Death will steal your innocence, but it will not steal your substance. And you are not alone.

As for me, as for now, I am just here. Singing with those birds at 4AM.

Timshel* by Mumford and Sons

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And I will tell the night
Whisper, “Lose your sight”
But I can’t move the mountains for you

*I did a little bit of reading about this song.  It is apparently a meditation on themes in East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which I have not read.  But the summary that I read says that Steinbeck was exploring the possible meanings of the Hebrew word timshel used in the Book of Genesis when God discusses the concept of sin with Cain.  Steinbeck himself came to the conclusion that the word was intended to mean Thou mayest” triumph over sin, meaning, most importantly, that humans have the power of choice.  In that context, it is about the choice of good over evil, but as I meditate on this song, I am thinking about the ultimate choice that all bereaved people must eventually make to live in the light rather than continue to dwell in the dark.  To me, this is a much more difficult choice.  But I am not alone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Blanket For My Boy

I feel so very unprepared for all that is to come in the next month. But at least I finished this. At least this is ready. At least my sweet boy will have a little homemade thing from his mommy to hang on to if he needs it. At least I have done this much.   

Hudson’s favorite chair. Empty.

Jackson’s blanket. Waiting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


It is nearly the end of April. Almost May. A little over three weeks until the one-year anniversary of Hudson’s death.

I am in a bit of a daze. Well, no, it’s a pretty significant daze. Near-constant anxiety over Jackson’s well-being. Total bewilderment about the looming reality that we will have a newborn again within the next few weeks. That sense of life hurtling me forward whether I like it or not. And, frankly, numbness.

Jess said the other day that she had a moment last week where she just wished she could skip over May and go straight to June. As many of you know, Jess’s mom died three years and ten days before Hudson did, in early May, under sadly similar circumstances.

I told her that I haven’t been really dreading the anniversary of Hudson’s death. She said she was glad. But the more I talked it through, the more I began to realize that I think I am just getting the benefit of the protective coating of shock all over again. The same protective barrier that allowed me to function at all during the days we spent in the hospital with Hudson and the days and weeks after her death—the force that allowed me to talk coherently with the doctor about brain death exams and autopsies, to hold my little girl’s lifeless body in my arms and say goodbye, to continue to get out of bed every day after that, to welcome visitors into our home, to smile and talk with them, to plan a memorial service for my 17-month-old child, and to do all the other seemingly impossible things I did—I think that same bubble has enveloped me now.

On the way home from North Carolina on Sunday, Ed and I were talking about our plans for May 13, when we are going to have a brief ceremony to remember our girl at the National Arboretum. As we talked, I felt like I was in a scene from a movie, one of those where the person is somehow standing outside herself in wonder, watching but unable to say anything. How could we possibly be planning to commemorate the anniversary of our daughter’s death? How could our daughter possibly have died? How could it possibly have been nearly a year since we last held her in our arms, saw her precious smile, heard her say words and laugh? How could we possibly be talking so matter-of-factly about who should do what when during yet another memorial for our daughter?

I don’t have the slightest clue how any of these things could be possible. I feel almost as disoriented as I did during those first days and weeks of living in this new world. And I guess I should be grateful for that.

Because if I could really grasp everything that lies in front of me during the next month, I don’t think I would even be able to stand up. The worsening PTSD-like reactions and flashbacks I’ve been having as we get closer to a year. The haunted feeling emanating from the memories attached to the next few weeks, which were the last we spent with her a year ago. Mother’s Day (I’ve lived eight Mother’s Days without my mother. Now I have to begin a lifetime of them without my child, too. How is that even possible?), which, in a terrible twist of fate, I will always have to remember as the day Hudson became ill. The actual anniversary. Final preparations for a new child to come home, preparations that mean letting go of and changing even more of the spaces in our home that used to be Hudson’s. Delivering a child in a hospital room exactly like the one where Hudson was born, perhaps even in the same room. Having nothing of my little girl with me in the hospital except memories and mementos. Conquering my terrible fear of all the things that could go wrong in the delivery and all the myriad things that threaten Jackson once he’s on the outside. Living through those hazy first days and weeks of life with a newborn and coming to terms with having less time to continue grieving. Losing Hudson all over again when her brother joins us without his big sister to welcome him.

Yes, I think I’ll be grateful for this bizarre numbness. It will lift soon enough, and just like the painful tingle in our limbs as they come back to life after being in one position for too long, the aftermath is going to hurt.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lies from the Heart

I lied about Hudson for the first time yesterday (at least as far as I can remember).

I lied about her twice actually. The first time, I boarded my plane to Raleigh and as I was settling into an aisle seat, the woman by the window, a very kind-eyed grandmotherly type, saw my knitting and asked the regular string of questions, the string I brace myself for now in these awkward forced small talk situations. “When are you due?” “May 24.” “And is this your first?” “No, my second.” “And what are you having?” “A boy.” “And what do you have at home?” “A daughter.” No further explanation.

It just came out before I even thought about it. Usually when I get that question, I respond, “My older daughter actually passed away last year,” and then I brace myself for the fallout. After being sleepless since 3:15AM, looking into that woman’s kind eyes, anticipating a most effusive outpouring of sympathy (and I know my fellow bereaved of all kinds can relate when I say that the kindest and most sympathetic responses are often the hardest to deal with, the ones that make me break down the fastest), sitting in the front row of a plane with droves of passengers still walking by me as they boarded, I lied to spare myself.

“And what do you have at home?”

“A daughter.”

“Oh, well, perfect!” I just smiled and turned back to my knitting, hoping to avoid further conversation that might force me to admit I had lied when I said I have a daughter “at home.” I worked. She turned back to her book. And with that, I avoided a noisy and noticeable breakdown for which I was just not prepared this morning, as well as the inevitable look of pity she would probably keep giving me during the whole flight.

The seat between us remained empty almost until the flight was closed, but right at the last minute, a very young mother with a tiny infant strapped to her chest in a sling came in and sat down. The grandmotherly woman by the window gushed over the little boy, the young woman glowed in the praise, and I sat quietly, knitting away. A few moments later, I glanced over at the little boy, sleeping soundly against his mother’s chest, mouth puckered in that half-sucking pout that weeks-old babies put on while they sleep. As soon as I looked back to my knitting, the young woman next to me said, “Oh, I didn’t even notice you were pregnant! How far along are you?”

“34 weeks.”

“Do you know what you’re having?”

“A boy.”

We chatted a little bit about how they let you fly until 38 weeks now, and how much harder it is to fly with a little one. I mentioned that the flight attendants would probably give her son a “First Flight Certificate” if she wanted one (sometimes I just wander into the danger zone before I even realize it…), and of course, she immediately asked, “Do you have an older child?” Well, of course, I do. Why else would I know that Southwest would give her kid a certificate?

This time, I lied to spare her. “Yes, I have a daughter.” Well, this one wasn’t exactly a lie, I guess. It just wasn’t the whole truth that I usually tell when that question rolls around. But she was just so young and fresh-faced and so clearly still honeymooning with her sweet little boy (of course, I should probably know better by now that you can’t always tell from the outside what people are going through on the inside—this was just the vibe I got from her). I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her how awful the world can be to us sometimes, how awful it can be to our children.

I thought for a long while afterwards what, if anything, it meant for me not to share our story about Hudson with these two women. At first I found myself wanting to turn to them and just spill it all out, but after a time, that would have been awkward. Before yesterday, I guess I had thought I would always tell it, that to do otherwise would somehow dishonor her memory. But like so many other things about this process, I’ve learned that I just can’t know how I’ll react in any given situation until it is upon me. As much as I wish it weren’t so, I have many long years ahead during which I’ll have to answer questions like these. If I spent them either trying to predict these encounters and respond “appropriately” to them or second-guessing myself (or worse, feeling guilty) after every one, I wouldn’t have a whole lot of emotional room for anything else.

I said what my heart told me to say at the time. I guess that’s the best I can do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eleven Months: Remembering

I honestly have no idea what to say today. It’s hard for me to even think about today being eleven months, because all I can think about is that in one more month, it will have been an entire year since we said goodbye to the most precious person in our lives, our deeply beloved child who brought us joy we had not known before was possible. Really, what is another month in the face of such enormity?

Right this minute, I am sitting out on Hudson’s Poppy’s back porch, looking over the swimming pool where she took her first “lessons” from her daddy this time in late April nearly a year ago. We were visiting North Carolina for some law alumni events, and took advantage of the beautiful weather with some great adventures in Poppy’s pool and Hudson’s first boat ride on Poppy’s pontoon boat out on Jordan Lake. We could never have known that our dearest little girl, so doted upon by her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and so many others, would be taken from us forever a short three weeks later. As always, I am so very grateful for these wonderful memories, so shiny-bright as they are with Hudson’s effervescent spirit, and yet I am so incredibly sad that I now sit here alone, without her, in this place she once filled to the brim with so much joy.

On Poppy’s back porch in her Hudson-sized papasan chair under her Hudson-sized umbrella. 

First boat ride--she was not a fan of her boat coat,” as we call them in our family
Lovin’ some love from Grandpa 

Peas in a pod

Driving with Poppy

One of my very favorites

I’m guessing Ai-pane!

“Ooh, see that over there, Grandma?!”
“And that there?!”

Oh, that face.
 Oh, that love.

Learning to kick

After her first dunking

And the pièce de résistance:

I hope that as you look at these pictures, you can feel that joy just vibrating out of your screen. I know I do. As you watch our little Hudson, at only 17 months old, embracing swimming with an enthusiasm borne straight out of that joy, I hope you have a better sense than ever of how big a spirit lived in that little body, a better sense than ever of how much we have lost. Her joy for living was unparalleled, and here, almost a year later, its absence still leaves a giant, gaping hole that will never be fully filled.

How much I miss her face. How much I miss her joy.