It is a new year. Again. No more will I say, “My daughter died last year.” Now I will have to say, “My daughter died two years ago.” Each new year takes us farther and farther away from the time when we knew her in life.
But the turning of the year is simply life’s way of moving us forward in the only way we know how, which is just to keep going. And what a difference a year makes. This time last year was still so very hard, and it was complicated even more by the crippling anxiety I was feeling over Jackson’s well-being in utero. Today, we had brunch with friends and watched our sweet Jackson interact with another baby for the first time. Today, we’re looking forward to a year full of fun and adventure, including a trip to Montana and San Diego and a move back home to our beloved North Carolina. Today, the hope we had last year has materialized into joy, even as we continue to grieve so very deeply the loss of our precious Hudson.
Grief and joy, grief and joy, grief and joy. Last year, this year, and every year from now on, grief and joy.
I had already been thinking that under these circumstances, it would be appropriate to repost the photo and song I posted on this day last year, so full it is of both grief and joy for me. Here is what I wrote about this song last year:
Auld Lang Syne, often sung on New Year’s Eve and day, is usually a high-spirited tribute to the importance of remembering old friendships (think of the final scene in It’s a Wonderful Life). But the Dave Francis/Mairi Campbell version of the original old song by James Burns from 1788 (which you may have heard in the Sex and the City movie) better captures the exquisite mix of sorrow and joy that comes with the passing of time, of days, of years, of relationships, of loved ones: the sorrow of longing for times past and for those we loved so much, and yet also the joy of the memories of those days and those beloved ones that live on always in our hearts. I did not stay up to ring in the new year without my girl, but if I had, I would have done so with this song—the very definition of our lives in this new year without Hudson is the terrible sorrow of missing her mixed with the tremendous joy of the memories of the days we had with her.
I was not familiar with the history of the song—it is based on a very old traditional song, maybe first captured in a poem from 1711. These verses from that poem particularly touched me when I read them:
My Heart is ravisht with delight,
when thee I think upon;
All Grief and Sorrow takes the flight,
and speedily is gone.
The bright resemblance of thy Face,
so fills this Heart of mine;
That Force nor Fate can me displease,
for Old long syne.
And then there’s these two verses from the 1788 version from Burns (these are from an English translation of the Scottish version, which you’ll hear below):
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
Here is the Francis/Campbell version of Auld Lang Syne, along with one of my very favorite photos of Hudson.
Oh, my dear girl. This bright resemblance of thy face so fills this heart of mine.
And then last night, more serendipity. My sweet niece Alice emailed me a video of Hudson I had never before seen. She’d had it on her camera all this time and only recently got a computer that would allow her to download and send it to me. In her email to me, Alice made this observation about the video: “It’s kind of dark, but you can still make out her big ol’ smile!” So true.
Oh, my sweetest little girl. Always, always, this bright resemblance of thy face so fills this heart of mine.
It’s kind of dark some days, but we can always make out her big ol’ smile.