I’m sitting here in bed at 1:30 in the morning in the wee hours of April 6th. I was awake at this time four years ago, watching you sleep restlessly beside me. You were sick and so we’d put you on oxygen, just like we had every other time you’d been ill. I could never sleep when you were tethered to that thing, and so I sat up and watched you, your sweet little head the only thing on my pillow. I counted the minutes until I could call your pediatrician. I wish I’d taken you to the ER instead. It was your last night in our home – your home. I wish I’d laid my head down next to yours.
I’m sitting here in bed in the wee hours of April 7th. I was awake at this time four years ago, sitting next to your bed in the PICU. The nurses had wheeled over a TV and VCR, and we were watching movies together. You clung to my index finger while we watched Mary Poppins, and then The Wizard of Oz. I sang the songs to you softly, and told you how much I loved the movies, especially The Wizard of Oz. For a month after you died, commercials for the traveling stage production of Mary Poppins aired incessantly on my TV, practically driving me mad. But in those early minutes of the day, I sang you the songs and squeezed your hand. I had no idea we had less than twenty four hours together.
Another April 7th, the fourth one I’ve started without you. I keep waiting for this to somehow get easier; that at some point, I’m finally going to be resigned to this life without you and the pain will stop increasing. But as your daddy sleeps beside me, as Rigby sleeps on my feet, as your sister sleeps down the hall, and as your brother squirms inside of me, I think I’ve realized that it’s only going to get worse. Every year, as I watch your sister (and soon your brother) do the things you never got to do, it’s going to hurt a little more.
When people ask me how I’m doing, I tell them I’m tired. People chalk it up to the pregnancy, but the thing is, I’m always going to be tired. I’m living a double life: The life of the parent who glories in her children’s lives and accomplishments; and the life of the parent who is haunted by your final moments. I am both singing at the top of my lungs with one child while I am watching you die behind my eyelids. I am wondering what one child’s eyes will look like while remembering how yours looked when I closed them with my fingertips.
I hate this. I Hate This. I HATE THIS. Why can’t you be here? WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN TO YOU?!
Every April 7th since you died, I’ve done my best to remember you alive and living and laughing, but in these wee minutes your last hours are replaying in my head like an ear worm, the fourth verse of a song I never wanted to hear. I’m so angry, so ferociously irate that you are gone that it’s overwhelming me. I know I need to feel this, and so I will pace the house and ride this out until I think I can finally sleep.
When sleep does come, I desperately hope I will have pleasant dreams of you. I will wish for the rest of my life that things were different.
I love you still, always, forever, more every day, my sweet Madeline Alice.