Her room is cleaner now than it was before. Maddie and I shared a closet, and I was in the middle of cleaning it out when she got sick. My clothes and her clothes were in piles on one side of the room. The other side was full of her toys. The day before she went to the doctor, we both crawled around the piles, threw clothes about, and laughed at the mess.

The day after we came home without her, I threw all the clothes haphazardly into the closet. I picked up the toys. I hung up her coat and lined up her shoes. Her room had to be presentable.

It was rarely so orderly. It was always busy, full of toys and fun and new things to climb over and explore.

I sat in her room today and remembered the last time it was so neat. It was before she came home from the NICU. I remember sitting in her plush green rocker during that time. I’d wrap my arms around myself and cry, longing for my baby to come home.

I do the same thing now, but at least back then I could go to the hospital to see her and touch her. At least back then there was the promise that she’d come home.

Today, right now, I am not OK. I am not “hanging in there.” It hurts so much that my arm could be chopped off and I wouldn’t feel it. It hurts so much that I can’t imagine it not hurting. I don’t want to hear that it won’t hurt some day. I don’t want to hear it will get better. I just want to hear my baby laughing in her messy bedroom, shrieking as she climbs over a pile of new clothes with the tags still attached.