Sunday, May 13, 2012

Two Years: A Letter to My Girl

Oh, my girl. I have been dreading sitting down and writing this letter to you. Not because I don’t love sharing this special time with you—I love it very much. When I write to you, I almost get to feel like you are here with me, that I am laying down in the bed with you, stroking your hair or rubbing your back as you are trying to fall asleep while I tell you how much I love you.

No, the reason I have been dreading sitting down to write it is because you are not here. I don’t get to lay in your bed curled up around you stroking your beautiful hair and face or scratching your back like my mommy used to do for me when I was a little girl. Instead, all I get to do is write you letters on these sad anniversaries and other days and hope that somehow, somewhere, you can still feel my love, still feel the caress of my hand tracing the slope of that precious little nose or drawing an “H” on your back for you to guess which letter. All I can do is write these letters and hope that by sharing them with others, everyone else will come to know how wonderful you were so that your spirit can keep growing and spreading love in the world. Because I know that’s what you would have done if you were still here. So as much as I love talking to you in this way, it is also an all-too-vivid reminder that you are not here, and that is so very hard.

Today, we have survived without you for two whole years, my precious girl. Two years. So much longer than we had you with us. How very wrong that is. And today, fatefully, is also Mother’s Day, not only the day that is set aside for us to celebrate each other and what we mean to each other as mommy and daughter, but terribly, also the day that you first got sick two years ago, before we knew how very sick you were. Although I know I will never be able to fully let go of the trauma associated with this day, the passage of time and the birth of your amazing little brother do help take out some of the sting, making it a little easier to remember how incredibly fortunate I am to be your mommy, how incredibly fortunate I am to have carried you inside my body for nine months, to mother you here on this earth for 17 months and 12 days, and to carry you in my heart for the rest of my life. As time passes, what everyone had hoped for me has begun to happen—with each day, I am able to remember more and more of the sweetness of how wonderful it was to have you with us. And while it does not take away proportionally from the pain of how awful it is to be without you, it does help. I am so glad to be able to talk about you and remember you every day, all the time, to share you with others without feeling stabbed in the heart over and over again. I still feel stabbed, like I am feeling right now, but I don’t feel it every time I think of you, and that has to be good. And I think it has to be a gift from you.

Just as you were so generous in life, my sweet Hudson, so are you incredibly generous in death. All the time, little pieces of the world make themselves known to me, and I just feel that they are you, letting me know that you are there, that you are here with me. Your Aunt Jess sends me texts every couple of weeks telling me about our special little deer friends who visit in her backyard, or a rainbow she saw on the way home from work, or a song she heard just at the right time, and I always text back and say, “She is always there when we need her.” Just this morning, in fact, she sent me a text wishing me a peaceful day and hoping I would have some quiet time with you. Then she went and turned on her Pandora radio and was just starting to think about how Pandora’s downfall is that you can’t pick a particular song at any given time. And yet, as soon as the music started, the version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that we all think of as “yours” came on. Was that you, sweet girl? We love to believe it was. Last week, when I started my first chemotherapy, my nurse was wearing your keychain—your keychain, my dear one. Was that you? I almost think it had to be. The week before that, when I had just come home from my race and was feeling really down about facing my cancer treatment, I was heading out to one of my many doctor’s appointments. Lots of times, I will turn on the radio, and I will think, “OK, if one of our songs comes on, then I will know it’s Hudson trying to tell me something.” It doesn’t ever work. Except that day, it did. I turned on the radio, feeling like I needed to hear from you, and “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen was on—it was almost as if you knew that I needed to hear that particular song right then, so that I would know I would be OK, that the pressure would get better, that the enormous love that is present in my life, from you, from your daddy, from your brother, from our whole family and all the people out there in the world who love us—all that love would make it OK. And during the race itself, the beautiful sea birds who kept flying with me… was that you? I just have to believe it was, my sweet Hudson.

But here’s the thing, my dear girl. The most beautiful thing about it all. Even if those things are not “you” in the sense that somewhere in the realm beyond what we can see and know with our senses, you are pulling some strings to make these things be (your Aunt Jess and I joked one time that if our loved ones can pull so many such strings, why can’t you just come back and be with us?)—even if those things are not “you” in that way, they are still you. They are still you because it is because of you that I notice them. It is because of you that when I pass a dandelion or a field of dandelions, I stop and notice them and take in how dazzling they are, how beautiful a little weed can be. It is because of you that when one star shines brighter in the sky than all the rest, or the moon is particularly beautiful one night, I stop and notice it and appreciate how amazing it is. It is because of you that when the wind blows in just the right way, whispering through the trees and bringing a gentle breeze on a warm day, I stop and notice it and feel touched by it. It is because of you that when I hear a song that I really needed to hear, I feel lifted in love and grace, even when it is something as silly as “Dancing Queen” by Abba.

It is because of you, my sweetest, most glorious Hudson, that I can stare a life-threatening illness down in the face and still feel the exceptional beauty that surrounds me each and every day. It is because I get to be your mother that I also get to know how astoundingly precious every second of our lives is, even the seconds that terrify us as they bring us face-to-face with the reality of our deaths. As I have said so many times, I would trade all of this wisdom back in a heartbeat if it meant just one more day with you. But I know that is not to be. And so again, today, two years after we said goodbye to you, I am reminded of your lesson, and I weep with gratitude for the gift that you continue to be in my life every single moment of every single day.  Thank you, again, for being my One Good Thing.

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.

I love you, my girl, my heart.




  1. Dearest Mandy,
    "it is because of you that I notice them"
    This rings true for so many of us... it is because of Hudson, because of your love for her, because of your mothering, because of your willingness and ability to share her and you with us that we notice them too. Sending you love and Light today most especially.
    Rachel C.

  2. Just checking in on you, Mandy ~ I'm so glad you wrote today. Hudson is quite a gift to so many people. Thank you for sharing her with us. Happy Mother's Day.

  3. Beautifully written. Hudson is a beautiful soul, and as always, I am honored that you share her with all of us. Sending your family much love.

  4. You have shared Hudson is such a beautiful way. I feel like I know her even though I didn't get to meet her. Sharing time with her today at the Arboretum with my own daughter was precious. Thank you for your gift. Sending you love. Della

  5. "All I can do is write these letters and hope that by sharing them with others, everyone else will come to know how wonderful you were so that your spirit can keep growing and spreading love in the world"

    We all know, Mandy. We can feel it every time you speak of sweet Hudson.

    Much love to you, Ed and Jackson today.


  6. Thinking of you, on this day especially. Her spirit most definitely lives on, not only with those who loved her, but even with those of us who never met her but "know" her through your beautiful words.

  7. Hudson's love is being multiplied over and over again, Mandy. Because of you and your willingness to share so deeply with all of us, 100s if not 1000s of children are getting hugged just a little tighter each night and are getting told "I love you" just a little more often every day, and their parents are remembering to never take anything for granted and cherishing more each and every moment. Thank you for being so brave and open to share that will all of us and our children.

    Deep breaths to you today as you start off on another week of your healing, being watched over by your little girl.

    Love from Johanna and Warren, Cian and Rory

  8. So beautiful- thank you for sharing her with us. :)
    I truly believe those moments of radio songs, and the tightest stars, and coincidental things are out loved ones "speaking" to use. I'm so glad she has you for her mother.

  9. So much love.

  10. Hard so hard..bubbles went up for you from some and others just remembered..stay strong and peace and prayers to you..and we miss you..all of you..we will never be the same touched by our Hudson...and our Jackson..who in a short time made his mark on us!