Tomorrow would be Madeline’s eighth birthday. It’s hard for me to believe I was in the hospital on bed rest eight years ago. When I think back to that time, I remember how not afraid I was. Despite the reading and research I’d done, I was just…I don’t know. Naive? In denial? Both? I do remember being depressed about being in the hospital, away from my home and work and friends. I wish a therapist had come by to talk to me, I know it would have helped tremendously.

Annabel told me the other day that she is excited for Maddie’s birthday. It was jarring for me to hear that, because the last thing I am is excited about another year without my girl. But Mike and I have made sure Madeline’s birthday is a happy day, even if we’re not happy on the inside. And really, Annabel is excited for two reasons: cream puffs and no school.

I’m not sure what we’ll do tomorrow. Mike is off, too. If I could, I’d probably curl up under a blanket on my couch, alternately stuffing my face with sweet and salty snacks. But since the kids will be home, that’s not an option. That’s probably a good thing…as much as I would like some quiet moments to myself, the line between “sad” and “out of control pity party” can be pretty thin on November 11th.

These days don’t get easier. This is the seventh birthday we’ve celebrated without Madeline. She’d be in second grade. I walk past the second graders every day on our way to Annabel’s classroom and I try to not look, but I can’t help it. I see their sparkly backpacks, their Monster High shirts, and I wonder. I try not to stare at them but I just want a glimpse. Who would she be?

Annabel has a lot of questions, and I’m doing my best to answer them even though many of the questions have no answers. I try to keep my voice even because it’s important to me that she and James develop their own thoughts and feelings about their sister and not be influenced by mine. But when Annabel says, “I wish she was here. I wish she hadn’t died,” it’s impossible for me to not agree.

my sweet maddie moo

Happy birthday, my sweet Maddie Moo. I love you forever.