Happy 2nd Birthday Maya

My Dear Sweet Maya,

Happy Happy Birthday my sweet girl!  I can’t believe you would have turned 2 years old today!  Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and other times it feels like an eternity.  I imagine you’d wake up super excited to celebrate and spend the day with Mommy, Daddy, and your baby brother.  At this point you would have understood how special your birthday is and we would have made sure to say Happy Birthday as many times as possible throughout the day.

I’ve been dreaming of what you’d be like now.  I imagine you’d have tons of energy and love to run and play.  We’d go to the playground every day so that you could run around and go on the swings.  I imagine you’d be quite the girly girl just like your Mama.  You’d love pink and dolls and getting your hair done.  Your hair!  I bet it would be down past your shoulders now and super curly – just like Mommy’s was when she was little.  I imagine you’d love to talk and tell stories and ask questions.  I imagine you’d love books and being read to every night.  I bet by now you’d take the book and “read” it yourself.  I imagine you’d love arts and crafts and would always want to do a new project or just sit and color.  You’d love listening to showtunes with Mommy and going bowling with Daddy.  You’d love life and be a happy little girl.

I imagine you’d be an amazing big sister to Oliver.  You’d want to help Mommy whenever you could.  You’d help me pick out his clothes and make him smile and laugh.  You’d talk to him whenever you had the opportunity.  You’d share your toys and books.  He would be smitten with you – watching you play and listening to you talk.  I know you are here with us.  I know you are proud of how your Mommy and Daddy are raising your little brother.  I know you are looking down on him and smiling.  He already knows who you are.  We tell Oliver about you all the time and he looks at your pictures on the wall.

Today we will go to the aquarium.  I imagine if you were here that’s how we would spend the day.  We decided to use your birthday as an opportunity to make memories for ourselves and for your younger siblings.  We think that’s what you’d want us to do.  We miss you so much Maya.  We want so badly to know what life would be like with you here with us.  We want to know how well you and Oliver would have gotten along.  We spend our days with Oliver wondering if you would have been just as easy and happy as he is… we think you would have.

Through the sadness, we are comforted with the knowledge that your little life continues to matter.  We are so much better parents because of you.  We soak up every ounce of joy that we have with each other and with your baby brother.  We appreciate the small, quiet moments.  I thank you every day for teaching me just how precious life is.  Your life continues to matter to those around us too.  We share your story and people remember you.  We talk about your life openly and people learn that time with our loved ones is a gift that can be taken at any moment so enjoy every second.  You are so loved.  Your life continues to matter and your legacy lives on in us and in your baby brother.

Mommy and Daddy love you so much Maya.  We miss you terribly.  We are comforted knowing that you are here with us and are proud of how far we have come in two years.  We are able to live joyfully and spread happiness through memories of you.  We have brought meaning to your life and will continue to share what you have taught us.

Happy Happy Birthday my sweet girl.  I miss you and love you always always always and forever.

Love,

Mommy

The Blank Wall

There are many ways the experience of losing Maya has impacted my parenting of Oliver in a positive way.  I am more appreciative of the time I have with him.  I believe my experience with Maya has made me more calm, patient, and level-headed if you can believe that.  Losing Maya has almost had the opposite effect than what you would expect.  Throughout my pregnancy, I was sure I would be an over-bearing, nervous, anxious mother – afraid of germs and always fearing the worst.  And though I still have my moments of irrational fears and playing out worst-case-scenarios in my head… I don’t think they are any greater in number than a mother who hasn’t lost a child.

So far, the decisions we’ve made in regards to Oliver and the transitions we’ve gone through have come very naturally.  We’ve moved forward when it felt right.  For example, Oliver loved being swaddled from day 1 and seemed to sleep best when he was swaddled.  Then, it seemed like he didn’t like it anymore.  We tried to go without the swaddle and it didn’t work – he didn’t sleep well.  Then, he started breaking out of the swaddle so we tried again and it worked and he has slept successfully without the swaddle for over a month now.  Of course with this and many other decisions/transitions, I do my research and talk to other parents.  In the end however, it happened when the timing felt right.

There was one transition that was not coming naturally and I was really struggling with… moving Oliver out of our bedroom.  I started to feel like the timing was right for a number of reasons.  I talked to other moms who reported that their child slept better when in his/her own room.  We experienced nights where Oliver woke up because of our movement or the dog’s nails on the hardwood floor.  In addition, it is only a matter of time before he will outgrow his little crib and I wanted to move him into his nursery in the little crib before transitioning him into his big crib.  And yet, as much as the logical side of my brain knew it was time and knew it was probably best for all of us, the emotional side of my brain couldn’t bring myself to do it.  To top off the dilemma… I couldn’t figure out why it was so difficult for me.  I thought it was my resistance to him growing and getting older.  I do feel sad that he is not a brand new baby anymore, but I’m so excited for what’s to come.

One day, as I continued to perseverate on the issue, I had an epiphany.  I went into my bedroom and looked at his little crib and I thought, “I don’t want to not see it there”.  I thought about why it was that I had this thought about the crib and not about Oliver.  I finally figured it out! … A week before Maya was born and died, we set up the little crib in our bedroom.  For a week, I pictured her in that crib.  I pictured getting up in the middle of the night, tiptoeing around our room, and watching her sleep.  After she died, Hackie came home while I was still in the hospital and gathered all of the baby stuff.  It all got put into the nursery and the door was shut.  When I came home, there was no crib.  In those early days and weeks, seeing that blank wall was so painful.  No crib, no baby, and a shattered future.

My subconscious fear that had finally come to the surface was that moving the crib out and seeing that blank wall would bring back those memories and those feelings of absolute devastation.  I processed this with Hackie, with my mom, and with some good friends.  I thought about it for several days and then I accepted that at no point was this going to be an easy transition.  Saturday morning, I made the decision that I was ready.  I moved the little crib into the nursery early in the day and hours before Oliver’s bedtime so I could get used to seeing the blank wall long before going to bed.  Oliver did just fine.  I was OK too.  Oliver has now spent 5 nights sleeping in his own room and everyone is sleeping better.  I knew that would be the case.

They say there are 5 stages of grief… which I have discussed many times is not linear and never-ending.  So to say there is a “final” stage is bogus.  For the purposes of this paragraph, however, I’ll buy in… The “final” stage of grief is acceptance.  I hated that because I always felt like acceptance meant being OK with something and I will never be OK with the fact that Maya died.  Then I read a different definition of acceptance, which was simply accepting and acknowledging your truth.  I read it as basically being the opposite of denial.  I have come to that place.  Maya died.  My first baby didn’t come home with us.  I am a bereaved mother.  This is my truth.  Though I am over the moon filled with joy that Oliver is here and healthy and perfect and that I get to spend a nice long maternity leave and summer with him, my truth is still there.  Sometimes, the fact that my first baby died and didn’t make it home is going to have a profound impact on my parenting and on Oliver.  Moving the crib was the first time I really felt it.

I know there will be much more that happens that brings me back to my darkest days.  Realizing that and accepting that as my truth is how I will make it through.  Once I realized why it was going to be so hard to move the little crib, I was able to make the transition.  I’d like to think that Maya has made me a better Mommy to Oliver.  I already know she has made me a better and more insightful person.

Permission to be Happy

It’s been quite a while since I’ve come to this space.  I haven’t needed to, but I’ve wanted to.  I miss writing.  My goal is to write once a week… we’ll see how that goes.

Life has changed.  Life has really changed.  I have changed.  And here’s why…

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Introducing Oliver Raymond.  He was born on Monday, January 20th (Martin Luther King Day!) at 11:17am.  He weighed 8lbs, 2oz and was 22 and a half inches long.  He is perfect.

In the last 14 weeks, I have felt every emotion you could possibly name.  I think that having a baby is the biggest life-changing event anyone goes through, and it’s impossible to prepare for it mentally and emotionally.  No matter how many babies I have been around growing up, there was no possible way to prepare for having to care for a baby 24/7.  It’s hard.  And with Oliver’s arrival and the immediate adjustment, came a lot of different emotions.

However, this post isn’t about everything I have felt and the roller coaster I have been on over the last 3 months.  This post is about something that I said yesterday during my daily conversation with my mom…

“I am the happiest I have ever been.”

At first, I was a little shocked that came out of my mouth… how could that be?  How dare I?  Shouldn’t I never be as happy as I was before Maya died?  Shouldn’t there be a perpetual sadness that looms overhead?  In that moment, I gave myself permission.  Permission for the above statement to be true.  It is true.  And it’s OK.

In the days following Maya’s death, a dear friend sent me a message.  She had experienced a similar loss one year prior.  She told me that any feeling I had was normal as long as it did not pose a danger to myself or others.  This advice has stuck with me since then and I repeat this mantra to myself nearly every day.  Throughout the process of grieving the loss of Maya, which I continue to do, I would remember these words through bouts of anger, frustration, disbelief, and happiness.  Now, my grief looks different.  I am no longer defined by my loss as I was in the months immediately following it.  The grief, though still with me, has quieted down.  And with that comes feelings of guilt.  I have felt guilty for feeling happy and I have felt guilty for feeling tired and frustrated when up in the middle of the night.

Today, I am liberating myself and will no longer feel guilt.  I am giving myself permission to be happy.  And permission to not be happy all the time.  I am replaying my friend’s words in my head as they still hold true.  What I have realized is that attempting to rationalize my feelings, whether they be positive or negative, is a waste of time.

Oliver is amazing.  He brings me so much joy and hope for the future.  I cherish every day that I have with him and am grateful for what my life has become.

I need to believe that Maya is proud of me.  I need to believe that she is OK with the fact that I do not grieve full time as I once did.  I need to believe that she wants me to live on and be the best Mommy to Oliver that I can be.  I wish she were here… she’d be a wonderful big sister.

 

18 Months

My Dearest Maya,

You would have been 18 months old today.  I’ve thought all day about what you’d be like.  Walking, talking, set in your ways, and eagerly anticipating the holiday season.  I know you’d have quite the personality and would always keep Daddy and I on our toes.  I imagine we would have filled this month with lots of fun family activities.  You’d be the life of every holiday party.  I picture you looking a lot like Mommy looked at your age – curly hair about shoulder length, chubby chubby cheeks, and an adorable button nose!  Oh how I would love to see your beautiful face!

Even though I don’t write here as often as I used to, I still think about you daily.  I say goodnight to you every night and tell you I love you when I see the gorgeous pink sky.  Any time the clock reads 6:16, I know you’re saying hi.  I miss you so much.  Sometimes, I feel bad that life has gone on without you here.  But then I remember that you are here.  We live our lives the way we do because of you.  You continue to help us understand what is important, especially this time of year.

Your little brother/sister is doing well – continuing to grow inside Mommy’s belly.  I ask you every morning to continue watching over him/her.  I know you are with us.  I know that you have helped Mommy get through this pregnancy.  It’s been scary, but knowing I have my little angel on my shoulder helps the days pass by.  I wish you were here to anticipate the new baby’s arrival.  I wish we could enjoy this baby through your eyes.  But I know that we will be better parents because of you.  I know we will make a conscious effort to cherish each and every moment.  That is how I have approached this pregnancy – every day is a gift and I must enjoy all the time I have with this new little life.

Happy 18 months sweet angel.  Keep watching out for Mommy and Daddy.  Be with us in the weeks to come as we prepare to bring this baby into the world.

I love you and miss you always and forever.

Love Love Love,

Mommy

Hope.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve come to this space.  Why?  I haven’t felt the need, the desire, or the motivation to write.  I haven’t wanted to visit the dark place that I go to when I write about my journey through grief.  For quite some time, this blog was my outlet, my therapy, and my way to network and reach out to others also on this journey.  I don’t need the outlet right now.  I don’t need the therapy.  I am in a good place; so it hasn’t felt necessary to come here.

I decided to write today for several reasons.  I’ve had a post brewing in my head for some time and it’s time to get it out.  It’s time to admit that things have shifted and my emotions have changed.  Today is also the 16th.  October 16th was the first of many significant 16s in Maya’s life.  Two years ago today marked the “beginning” of my pregnancy with Maya.  Today also marks 16 months since we said hello and goodbye to our baby girl.  Whenever I see 16 now, I am happy.  16 makes me think of Maya.  So in sticking with my happiness theme, it is with great joy that I announce to the blogging world that Maya is going to be a big sister!

Yes.  We are expecting our rainbow baby.  I actually already think of Maya as a big sister.  I believe she is watching over Hackie and I and her baby brother/sister.  She is always with us.  We found out this wonderful news 13 days before Maya’s first birthday.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  As her birthday approached, I really struggled with what comes after the first birthday milestone.  What comes after you’ve already experienced every holiday and milestone once without your baby.  Those two little lines answered that question for us.  Baby comes next, and we are so ready.

To say this pregnancy has been an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement.  However, I knew that going in.  I actually think that I am handling things pretty well.  I acknowledge my fears and move through each day appreciative of the time I get to spend with this little life growing inside of me.  I am working hard to stay busy, while also celebrating and enjoying my pregnancy.  Time will pass and February will arrive as it always does.  There is no use in wishing the time away – we never know how much we are going to get.

As I said earlier, things have shifted and emotions have changed.  I feel as though, in my climb up the mountain, I reached a very tall peak – the first leg of the journey.  There is no top to my mountain.  I will never be done climbing, but I have made a lot of progress.  Now, I focus on feeling hope, joy, and excitement.  I owe it to this new baby to celebrate his/her life and separate those emotions from the sadness associated with losing Maya.

I still miss Maya.  I still grieve.  I miss her every day.  I think about what she would be like now – a little person filled with curiosities and ideas.  She’d be talking all the time and would be at such a fun age.  Now, I think of Maya and smile.  More often, thoughts of Maya make me happy rather than sad.  Though her life was so short, she has made a profound impact on this world.  Because of Maya, I have witnessed a greater level of kindness, generosity, and humanity than I ever thought possible.  She mattered.  I am sure of that now.

I am now on the next leg of this journey, and I am still figuring it out.  I must live alongside my grief while feeling joy for our new baby.  I must acknowledge and move past feelings of guilt rather than trying to justify or analyze them.  I must continue to live as a healthy and productive person celebrating this new life while honoring the life we lost.  I must trust my gut.  There is no manual on how to do this.  Sure, there are books about pregnancy after loss, but we are all so different.

About a month after Maya was born and died, I made a conscious decision to somehow find happiness again.  I wanted to live my life as fully as possible and allow Maya to live through me.  I wanted to find joy anywhere and everywhere I could.  16 months later, I can say that I have done that.  I am happy.  I am living on.  I am finding my way up the mountain and will keep climbing.

It’s Been a While…

Wow.  It’s been quite a while since I have sat down to write.  I’ve missed this space.  I’ve missed bringing my grief to the surface and writing about how much I miss Maya.  I have a lot I want to catch up on and I finally have some time this week.  My goal is to write a new post each day recapping the last 6 weeks or so.  I plan to write about Maya’s garden dedication and birthday, the Compassionate Friends Conference that Hackie and I attended, and the end of the school year.  First though, I feel it necessary to write about why I have been MIA from this blog.

Once upon a time, I worked as a camp counselor every summer.  Starting when I was 19, I worked at three different camps over the course of seven summers.  The most recent was a summer arts program that I worked at summers 07 through 10.  In 2011, I was all set to go back to my beloved summer arts program, but was not given the opportunity.  Last summer I had a baby.  As it became apparent that I was not getting pregnant in time to have another summer baby, I began to think about this summer.  This was back in February.  Actually, that’s not really how it went.  I was working on the show at my school and those around me started to bring up the summer.  The director I was working with happens to be married to the camp director and she basically told me that if I was going to go back, I had to make a decision.  In the end, the decision was made for me.  Between my mother and my husband, I was convinced that I would be crazy not to go back to the summer arts program I once held very near and dear to my heart.  They reminded me how quickly I become bored and that having something to do the month of July would be really good.

I met with the camp director and felt good about my decision to return.  There was a small part of me that wondered if it would be a good idea to return part time as I knew what long and exhausting days I was in for, but I ignored that instinct.  In March, I was asked if I wanted to direct Shrek with the middle school campers.  I was over the moon thrilled.  I saw Shrek on Broadway and fell in love with the show.  I was beyond excited for this opportunity and any hesitation I had about returning full time disappeared.

Time carried on and I made it through the end of the school year.  With so many hurricane/snow days, the end of the school year overlapped with the beginning of camp.  This was a big challenge.  School ended on a Tuesday.  The weekend prior to that I had to be at camp all weekend.  We had the weekend of Maya’s dedication and birthday, a full school week, a weekend working at camp, the last 2 days of school, and then right to camp.  I worked 11 days straight and I was so tired.  It was very hard to have no time off between school and camp.

The program is five weeks long.  I struggled.  The days were longer than my school days and the driving distance was more than double.  I was tired and I was having a tough time connecting with the staff.  I was frustrated with myself because there was a point in time when I loved the program so much I would cry right along with the campers when it was over.  This year was so different.  I was different.  I remembered that it took me about 6 weeks to adjust to being at school again after Maya died.  This was a similar set of circumstances.  It was not a new environment, but I had to adjust to being there as the new me.  I, again, had to figure out a way to function and teach and direct alongside my grief.  Some of the staff knew what had happened to me last summer and some were brand new and didn’t know me at all.  As usual, there were circumstances where it was the elephant in the room.

Week 3 has always been the toughest week at camp, and I think that is the case for everyone.  The fatigue starts to catch up with you and the end does not feel near.  Week 3 was very tough for me.  It was right after the weekend of the conference, which I will write about later this week.  I was in tears just about every morning because I did not want to go.  I couldn’t help but think over and over, “I should be at home with my one year old.  I should not be working.”  It was another test of my emotional stamina and I simply had to wait for the sadness to pass.

This past week was the last week of camp – show week.  There is a different show every night.  Shrek went up Tuesday and was truly incredible.  I worked with an amazing cast of 30 fantastic and talented kids.  I was so filled with pride that everything else leading up to that night went away.  I was so grateful that I had the opportunity and was proud of myself that I accomplished what I set out to do.

Now that camp is over and I can officially say I am on summer vacation, I can reflect on how much I grew these last five weeks.  To go back after two summers off and after losing Maya was quite an undertaking (I realize now).  In the beginning, I expected it to be the same, and I expected to get the same level of fulfillment that I once did.  While camp did not meet my expectations and I had some rough and emotional moments, I made it out the other end.  There is no greater feeling than making it through a tough time and coming out the other side.  This was another steep climb up the mountain that is my journey through grief.  Though I stumbled a few times, I made it up.

There are 4 weeks left to summer vacation.   I have some exciting trips planned and some much-needed downtime at home.  I worked so hard these last five weeks.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go back and I am grateful the program lasts only the month of July :)

Happy 1st Birthday Maya!

Dearest Maya,

Happy Birthday my darling girl!  I can’t believe it has been a whole year!  So much has changed!  We live our lives for you and are so proud to be your parents.  Mommy has been and will continue wearing pink every day this month for you, my little angel.

We had a beautiful celebration yesterday.  We dedicated your garden surrounded by so many people who love you and miss you very much (and who were all wearing pink!)  Your little life has had a huge impact on this world.  You have taught your Mommy and Daddy how to love in a new way.

I wish you were here to celebrate your birthday with us!  We would have gone out to breakfast and probably taken you to the zoo or the aquarium.  We would have showered you with presents and lots of love!

We will have cake for you and sing to you this evening.  I know you are here with us.

Happy Happy Happy Birthday my sweet Maya.

We love you always and forever!

Love Love Love!

Mommy


Feeling Blessed at Work

For a while now I have wondered if most people see the loss of Maya as old news.  I’ve wondered if people pass judgement on me that I should be “over it” by now.  I’ve wondered if people thought it strange that Hackie and I are having a celebration the weekend of her birthday.  As we approached her birthday this Sunday, I grew increasingly nervous that people would forget or would remember but be afraid to say or do anything to show their support for fear of bringing it up.  I was so wrong.

Today is my last day of work before the weekend.  I took tomorrow off so that I could prepare for Maya’s garden dedication on Saturday.  I came in like I would any other day, not thinking much of this weekend – just focused on getting to this afternoon when I can tackle my very long to-do list.  I went in to see my administrator to ask her a question – she was wearing pink.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her wear pink and I commented that I liked it!  I came upstairs…  another colleague was wearing pink, and then I saw another.  I began to wonder if this was pure coincidence.  I tried to convince myself that surely this was not for me.  Then I stood for my morning duty, which happens to be at the end of the hall.  I looked down – every teacher and staff member was wearing pink!  My heart started to pound, and I started to shake.  I built up the courage to ask the colleague I was standing next to: “Alright, is there a reason everyone is wearing pink?”  She confirmed what I already knew.  I fought hard to hold back the tears.

I found out that my closest colleague and friend, who knows that I wear pink every month on the 16th and that I’ve been wearing pink every day the month of June, had the idea, floated it out to the third floor teachers and received an overwhelming response.  Apparently, the idea trickled down as some of the office staff, administrators, and guidance counselors are also wearing pink today.  Every time I saw someone in pink, I smiled knowing that he or she was thinking of my precious baby girl when getting dressed.

I can’t quite put into words how I’m feeling.  Today, I felt an overwhelming level of joy and comfort.  Today, I felt more proud to be Maya’s mommy than I have in a long time.  I’ve worked very hard this year to keep quiet and function as normally as possible at work.  I have remembered Maya in my own silent ways while at school – wearing pink, a grasp of my necklace… but I have mainly kept to myself.  Today, my colleagues showed me that Maya’s story is not old news.  They remember her and continue to be supportive.  I am so blessed.

A Bittersweet Birthday

Tomorrow is my birthday.  I’m not dreading the day as much as I was a week ago.  It seems as though with every milestone, the anticipation is much worse than the day itself.  I wish Maya were here to celebrate with me.  My birthday has always been a big deal.  I start celebrating the first of May – the weather, the flowers, the summer just around the corner – it all makes me so happy.  Now, this time of year has taken on a whole new meaning.  This is the time of year when I was super pregnant and counting down the weeks until baby arrived.  Mother’s Day, my birthday, the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, and now Maya’s birthday too all fall during this time that I once loved so much.  It’s been really hard.  I want so badly to enjoy this time of year, to look forward to my birthday the way that I always have, but it’s just so bittersweet.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a very reflective person.  That sounds like I can be seen in the dark… haha!  I reflect back a lot.  I reflect on everything – the day’s science lesson, the interactions with colleagues, students, Hackie, family, friends.  I’m always trying to think of what went well, what could have gone better, what I would do differently in any type of situation.  So, on this day, my last day of being 27, I am reflecting.

I’ve thought long and hard all day – would I characterize this year as a good year? A bad year?  Since my birthday is so close to Maya’s, I feel as though 27 will forever be remembered as the year I began the lifelong grieving of the loss of my daughter.  But that doesn’t have to be all that defines this year.  It’s also the year I started teaching science, went to Washington DC with Hackie, and developed some beautiful lifelong friendships.  Most importantly, 27 is the year I became a mother.

I feel like I will always think of my life in two chunks – before Maya, and after Maya.  27 was my first “after Maya” year.  I look at pictures of myself from life before Maya and I see someone so blissfully unaware, so innocent, and so naive.  I have changed.  In a way, 27 was the year of the new me – the new more compassionate, less uptight, more grateful me.  Shortly after Maya was born, I went out to dinner with my mom.  I was having a really hard time.  I told her that I felt like my very strong confident self had shattered into millions of tiny pieces and I didn’t even know where to begin to put them back together.  I learned early on that I have no control over that.  Slowly, the pieces have come back together on their own, and though there are several still missing and many in different places, I like who I have become.

So I will not try to characterize 27 as good or bad.  There were some amazingly wonderful things that happened and there was the worst thing in the world.  As I leave this year behind, I am satisfied.  I played the cards I was dealt, I grew as a person, I was kind, I said thank you, I did my best.

Maya should be here to celebrate with me tomorrow.  It sucks that she is not here to greet me in the morning with her beautiful smile and take me out to dinner.  She will be with me in spirit though – because she always is.  Hackie is working hard to make sure that I have a good day tomorrow, and I am now looking forward to it.  I am looking forward to 28.  I am confident many good things will happen and so so so so hopeful that the most wonderful thing will happen and we will take home our rainbow.  I so wish this is the last birthday I have to spend with no baby to spend my day with.

Will it be a bittersweet birthday?  Absolutely.  My birthday means that Maya’s is right around the corner and that’s just hard.  I will make the most of it, as I always do.  I will continue to grow and learn.  I will strive to be better and do better as I continue to live for my precious baby girl.

Here’s to 28 – Happy Birthday to Me.

Eleven Months

Dearest Maya,

You would have turned 11 months old today!  Oh my goodness!  Where has the time gone?  I can’t believe the next letter I will write you will be on your birthday.  I imagine by now you surely would have been walking and saying some words.  You would have favorite foods, favorite books, and a solid routine.  The weather has finally gotten consistently nice and I know you would have loved being outdoors.  I would have taken you down to the playground to swing on the swings every day when we got home.  I think you would also have had a full head of hair by now!  I would put it in the most adorable pigtails every day.

It’s been rough for Mommy.  Mother’s Day has come and gone and you weren’t here to wake me up with the gorgeous smile I know you would have had.  You weren’t here to pose in the big family picture and play with all your big cousins who you would have known as aunties and uncles.  Your absence was felt greatly and it was a sad day for Mommy.  This time of year is also hard because Mommy’s birthday is coming up and again, you won’t be here to smile at me and celebrate with me.  I know you would have loved this time of year as much as I do.

I think you’ve been hanging around a lot.  I want to believe that, anyway.  Daddy shut the door to your nursery when he was working on the bathroom so sawdust wouldn’t get in there and when he came back from the store, it was opened.  Was that you?  When the channel changed from the dreadful news to Sesame Street – I think you had something to do with that too.  I also think you’ve developed a special little connection with Halee.  She’s been sleeping in your room a lot and waking me up at odd hours of the night for no reason.  This morning when she was intent on making sure I was up, I had a thought… is she trying to tell me you need me?  That sounds so silly, but I think that’s what she would have done.  I think Halee would have been my little baby monitor – sleeping by your crib and alerting me when you were in need.  Rather than think of it all as strange or spooky, I’m comforted by it.  I know you’re around.  I feel you on my shoulder and know that you are watching over me.

We’ve planted your garden!  We were going to plant one cherry blossom and some other perennials, but then Mama fell in love with a second kind of cherry blossom so you got two trees!  Only the best for my sweet girl!  We’ll dedicate this garden to you the day before your birthday.  There are many people who love you very much who are going to come and be a part of this special day.  I hope you will be watching and I hope you will bring us sunshine!  We’ll be sending you bunches of balloons with messages from all those who love you so so much!

I can’t believe just how fast these 11 months have gone by.  Sometimes, I am grateful that time is moving and I am living life and finding joy.  Other times, I feel sad – the more time that passes, the farther away our time together becomes.  I will always hold the memories close though.  My time with you still seems like just yesterday.  I hope it stays that way.

I miss you so much Maya.  I say it every month because I will never stop missing you.  I wish so badly I had you here, my sweet 11 month old, and that we were planning your birthday party.  Still, I am grateful.  You have given me so much – to be a better, nicer, and healthier person.  To cherish the time I have, find joy, and smile in hopes of brightening someone else’s day.

I love you my sweet angel.  Always and Forever.

Lots of love,

Mommy