My dear, sweet, precious Hudson:
Here we are again, my girl. Somehow, the planet has managed to turn another year without you. Somehow, we have managed to live another year without you. Somehow, we are still here and you are still not.
You have been gone for more than twice the amount of time you were here, Hudson. How can that be? I just watched the slideshow of your life that Daddy and I made for your memorial service, and so many of those moments still feel like they just happened.
So very much has changed since we said goodbye to you, sweet girl, especially in this last year. We moved back to the town where Daddy and I came from, where your Poppy and Grandma and Grandpa live, into a new house that you never got to see, that we never got to make any memories with you in. I lost all my hair when I had chemotherapy last summer for cancer, and it is still very short, but it’s also really curly, nothing at all like anything you ever saw on top of my head. And I have a big belly, growing your baby sister inside. I wonder if you would recognize me if you saw me in this new body, with this new hair, in this new house. Your little brother seems to take it all in stride—he looks at old pictures of me, and he knows just who I am, no matter what I look like. He doesn’t even notice my belly until I point it out to him and try to explain somehow that there is baby in there, his little sister, just like you are his big sister.
Gosh, he is just so much like you, Hudson. His smile is your smile. His cheeks are your cheeks. His wispy, stick-straight, reddish-brown hair is yours, too. He is smart like you and loving like you and friendly like you. Whenever one of the parents at his school tells me how he always hugs them whenever they come into the room, I smile knowingly, feeling sure that somehow you must have a hand in all of that. I have been trying hard to help him know you. He knows your name and recognizes you in pictures (well, most of the time—sometimes, even he gets confused looking at pictures of you and thinking they are actually pictures of him). When I ask where his sister is, he points to your picture and says, “Hudson!” So I know he knows who you are. I look forward to the day when he understands who you are, too. When I can tell him about you and he can ask me questions about you and we can talk about you and think about you together. Because one of my most important jobs after losing you, Hudson, is making sure that in spite of it all, you remain part of us forever. I will probably not always do it in the right way, but I will keep trying to figure out what the right way is to keep you close to us while also making sure that your younger siblings know that we love them every bit as much as we love you, that we love them for just who they are, just as we love you for just who you are.
And a little sister. Can you believe it? You never got old enough for us to talk about what brothers and sisters are, and I can only wonder what you would think about having a little brother AND a little sister. And I am, as ever, so terribly sad that the three of you will never get to meet, that you will never get to build forts together in our new playroom, that you will never get to boss them around when playing games together or help them feel better when they are sad, that you all will never get to do a million things that brothers and sisters do together. And as sad as I am for Jackson that he doesn’t get to have a big sister here with him, I am maybe even sadder for your little sister. A big brother is irreplaceable, but a little sister needs a big sister around for so many things that a big brother doesn’t know. How much we will all miss because you are not here.
So much change in one short year, sweetest. The hardest part of moving to this new house has been moving here without you. There are no places here that I can picture a memory of you. Moving here without you, to this place you have never been, seemed, for the first time, like really moving on without you, like starting “the rest of our lives” but starting it without you.
So much change and yet, here I sit in the same glider chair where I used to sit with you for hours on end when you were a tiny baby, nursing you off and on and letting you sleep in my arms, the same glider where we spent our last hours in one another’s arms, last hours that we had no idea were last hours.
So much change and yet, our new yard is full of dogwood trees that remind me of when you saw a dogwood tree for the first time when you were five months old, that remind me of our trips to the Dogwood Collection at the Arboretum, where a part of you will be forever.
So much change and yet, here you are, right here with me, aren’t you? Always right here with me.
We spent this third anniversary in the most appropriate way I could imagine, and in doing so, we started yet another tradition that will keep you so very much with us as we fill this new home with memories. In addition to blowing bubbles for you like we have each May 13 since we first sent your spirit out into the world a few days after you died (and again, my girl, so many other people have done the same in places all over—you are really something special, sweet girl), we also began putting into place an idea we’ve had ever since those early days after you died, when we looked forward to moving into a forever home where we could make permanent and lovely spaces just for remembering you. We have picked out the loveliest sunny spot near the very front of the new yard where are going to plant a garden just for you. It is right by the road, so my hope is that every time someone walks, runs, bikes, or drives past (and this happens many, many, many times every day), they will feel some of the same joy that you brought us every day of your existence, the same joy that our memories of you bring us every day we spend without you. We picked out a beautiful stone and iron turtle that is now sunning on a rock in your new garden. We hung a birdfeeder at one corner of the space that is now your garden, so that birds can visit with you regularly and enjoy a place to rest and gain sustenance. I drew a map of our house and the yard and the space for your garden so that I can figure out which spots get the most sun and we can plant things that will thrive and that will help your spirit thrive, too. I felt more inspired and closer to you today than I have felt in a very long time, Hudson, and I am so looking forward to all the time that I will get to spend with you, thinking about and planning and planting your garden, sitting in it with you, adding something new to it every year, watching it grow and change and bring the same joy to the world that I know you would have if you were here on earth, that I know you still do bring even though you are not here on earth. The only way it could be better would be if you were right here with me, helping pick out the plants and digging the holes with a Hudson-sized spade and gently placing the plants inside and patting the soil down around them and watering them with love and delighting with me in watching them grow. I will never stop missing that idea of you there. But your garden will be yet another One Good Thing in all the sorrow of losing you, and I am so grateful to you for the inspiration. Thank you, sweet girl.
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, dearest girl, and I miss you with all of my being.
With all the love in my heart,