Every morning when I wake up, I have to decide if I’m going to live that day. I don’t mean live vs die (that is not an option). I mean get out of bed. Eat. Function. LIVE. It is a choice I have to make every day. And at the end of every day, I am shocked I made it through.

I look back at the first minutes, hours, days, weeks without Madeline, and I don’t know how I survived. When I think about the next five minutes without her, I don’t know how I will survive. Every minute takes me further away from her, and sometimes when I think about it I literally get sick.

As strange as it sounds, I wish I could go back to those last moments when I held her. I was in shock and my brain snapped into survival mode. I wish I could hold her against my body again and truly appreciate that it was the last time I was going to feel her body, inhale her scent, touch her skin. Shock gets you through but it leaves you with a lot of regret.

Of course, if a fairy was giving wishes, I have a few I’d like granted first.

I look to the other mothers & fathers who have lost their children, and I draw from them. When I think I can’t possibly make it through ONE MORE SECOND, I know that I can because they have, and they are. These parents, who are ahead of Mike and me on this hideous path, are where I draw my strength. They are surviving. I can survive.

Even if the surviving is the hardest part.