Seven years ago I held you for the last time. Your body perfect, your eyes closed, your heart no longer beating. I will be forever grateful for the nurse who called to seek permission to remove your breathing tube and the staff that wrapped you snuggly in a warm blanket. It left me with the memory that you were simply napping rather than the limp body that I held.
May 12, 2009 is a day burned into memory. One with many tears and lots of questions. It was a day we got the call, not to receive an organ but to give one. We later learned that your heart valves went to two children. More tears. That day it took courage to get up and go on.
Today it takes courage to say, I don’t always cry when I think of you. I didn’t cry today on the anniversary of your passing. My grief isn’t always expressed with tears anymore.
Grief is so different seven years later. I used to feel ashamed that I don’t cry as often as I once did. Ashamed that while I do think of you, it isn’t every single day. Does it mean I love you less? Am I forgetting you? Never.
Instead of crying, I smile when I see pictures of your smiling face. I smile when I get to talk to others about you. I don’t dread people asking me about the number of kids I have. I don’t worry about upsetting someone by sharing you are gone. I know that others will simply share their sympathy and sometimes, when I am lucky, they will ask more about you. Not about your passing but about you. Things like which sibling looks more like you or if we got to see your smile. Today people even ask to see you in pictures. They want to know know more about this little life that made such an impact on our lives.
I find my heart filled when I meet children who were born in January 2009. I find myself watching them with a smile knowing you probably would be doing those same things. Rather than remind me of what I am missing, I find they give me a glimpse into the eyes of a seven-year-old. Their play, their hugs, they make me smile.
I will forever watch your tree grow in our yard. Watch as the pretty pink flowers bloom each May reminding me of you. I will always feel a little pang of sadness as the flowers change to white and blow away in the wind. A simple reminder of the shortness of your life in our arms.
It takes courage to admit that today, I am okay, happy even. I am so fortunate to have held you. I am thankful that your life has helped others. You were loved and you are still very loved.
We miss you baby girl!