I am stressed out. Anxious. Trying to figure out what is the best situation for my family while weighing all the pros and cons. Worrying about my aunt, who is in the hospital. Wishing I could be there for everyone, worrying that I’m not there for anyone. Feeling out of control.
I retreat, and I get the box.
Holding it in my hands, I am transported. The contents are so special that I know where it is at all times.
I carefully untie the bow, and lift the lid.
The box holds a ziplock pouch.
Inside that pouch are two perfect curls.
Curls I carefully selected to hold onto forever, from my favorite section of her hair just above her right ear.
Curls I had sworn I would never let her cut because I loved them so much.
Sometimes, holding the box is enough. Other times, I need the pouch in my fingers. And on the worst days, I open the pouch, and as I gaze at her locks I remember how soft her hair was, how long it was getting, how pretty it was.
It still smells like her.
Along with my shirt, the box keeps something that I can hold and touch and use to feel connected to her. It isn’t cold.
It isn’t her.
But it’s all I have.
Annie Y says:
I wish I could take all your pain away.
Sending you oodles of love and hugs.
Nancy Smego says:
That book is beautiful. Did you make it?
Ms. Anthropy says:
People would probably think I’m beyond nuts to admit I have already done this with my own hair, for my grandchildren to remember me by.
I’m in tears for you, Heather.
Sending virtual hugs your way.
Oh goodness. I miss Maddie though I didn’t know her except through your videos and postings. She was such a fun, vivacious little child. I hope she’s having fun playing with angels.
When I see an entry tagged as ‘the famous Madeline’, I smile and my heart breaks simultaneously. Because I love to read about her – pictures of her brighten my day. But it kills me that you have to write entries like this, because it’s so unfair that she’s gone.
I forgot to say – I’m thinking about your family and praying for your aunt!
This is a beautiful reply to a beautiful post. Couldn’t have said it better.
I completely agree. Alice put the perfect words to how I was feeling. Much love to you….
Exactly. Well put, Alice.
These two particular sentences got me…
“It isn’t her.
But it’s all I have”
No mama should ever have to feel that.
Hugs to you.
Amanda M. says:
Just… I agree.
beautiful post…love reading about Maddie. i wish you’d never had to cut those curls- but so glad that you have them now. ((((hugs)))
(((HUGS))) thats all I have for you – I want to believe that the moments you miss her most is the moments she’s up in Heaven missing you too!
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
Sending you lots of love and hugs. Strength to you and your family, and love to your aunt.
This is my first time posting here, but your box called to me. I have my own box, but it is purple and has a purple ribbon and is for a sweet little boy named Ryan. Many hugs and much love to you, Heather.
Carrie P. says:
This post (as so many others) made me cry. Maddie will always be with you. She is a part of you, and through your blog, she is a part of us. Thank you for letting us share in your joys, your pain, your struggles, and your triumphs. Thank you for sharing your beautiful Maddie with us.
So sad for you both. It’s so tragic. I can’t imagine….
Be there for yourself first, Heather…only by looking after yourself can you be able to look after others. Be gentle with yourself…
Think of you all every day.
Such beautiful words, dear Heather, your words have moved me to tears, along with your precious photos. I still read every day but most days I’m unable to comment as I’m usually holding my velcro baby and entertaining my energetuc toddler. Today I have to comment to tell you again that your precious Madeline will always be remembered by so many of us all over the world, I think of her every day and I think of how I have changed the way I live my life because of her – and because of you, her wonderful Mum.
You are an amazing family, Heather, I’m thinking of you as you and all your family and always, always remembering your precious Maddie.
Sending you a big hug lovely lady.
Lots of love Erica
(((Hugs))) and tears. She is so beautiful.
Love to you, and sweet Maddie.
Less the fact that they are no longer with your Madeline- they are perfect curls.
I am sure your Aunt will receive countless prayers and wishes because you shared that she isn’t well.. I know I am sending along mine.
I wish sometimes the world would stop spinning for you.. that you could just have a moment of time- a break..that there exists any type of respite from your loss…I wish it knowing there is none.
So many, many, tears reading this………… much love to you Heather, Mike, Annie, Rigby, and most of all, beautiful, unforgettable Maddie
Ms. Moon says:
Sometimes our hearts need something for our fingers to touch.
so sorry that you don’t have your beautiful daughter to hold. i wish that she was still here.
Mary Ann says:
Sending you hugs, I wish I could take away the pain. Much love to you, I hope things get easier soon.
What a beautifully, heartfelt and heartwrenching post. It made me cry with each line written.
Precious curls from a precious, never, ever forgotten angel of a little girl!
Always in my prayers and thoughts…
I have a very similar box with my memories of Quinne inside it. The hospital gave us ours and I cherish it to this day. It’s on display in her curio cabinet and it usually only comes out on her birthday or days that I’m really missing her. I too wish I could have my baby and not a box of stuff. Lots of virtual ((hugs)) for you Heather.
Anna Marie says:
Oh. Tears and hugs for you this morning.
If there were words to heal that pain, you would have found them already. All your friends and readers can do is send a reminder that you all are cared about so much.
We’ll keep your aunt in our thoughts. I can’t even imgaine what this is stiring up for you and Mike, your families…
Hugs to you and your family. I’m thinking about you all today. Know that you are not alone, even though the grief you feel cannot be shared or understood by me. Cherish those perfect curls and remember your beautiful daughter. She is amazing!
Ditto. Hugs to you all. I hope you know how many people think of you every single day. You are loved by many.
You’ve such an amazing ability to speak from your heart. To make me think about my blessings. Everything I could lose. Now. Later. Please never. What’s in my heart is gratitude that you remind me to hang on to. Even when I’m frustrated by the day to day of life with my litttle girl and baby. You remind me. These moments are a lifetime. Thank you for that. I can’t help you or your family other than wishing and hoping for all the best for you. But you have helped me. Mine.
I love reading of Maddie and sometimes it makes me feel that in some small way my grief for her and for your loss may somehow take a tiny part of the burden from you. That it might lift a tiny bit of weight from your shoulders. I’m so humbled by the feelings that you share. You keep me grounded with your words and are my constant reminder that my blessings deserve a daily rollcall. Much love, Heather.
Love love love to you and your family.
XOXO from GA,
I hope that you find something, anything, that helps you in the responses you get. I know that writing some words for you on a page doesn’t help you carry your burden, but hopefully it offers you some small breath of comfort. As Fiona said, you need to be there for yourself first. It’s really the only way you can be there for the others. Remember always that you are doing the best that you can. Please don’t beat yourself up for not doing more. Love to you all.
Oh Heather my heart breaks for you and your family. I am so sad that your little girl is not here with your where she should be. Sending you lots of prayers and big hugs.
The press of sadness on my own chest makes me wonder how you carry on. You are so strong, so loved and so cherished. Thinking of you all.
Susan A says:
((((HUGS))))) Hoping that tomorrow will just be a “box” kind of day.
My heart hurts for you and tears stain my cheeks. I love you and I’m sending you great big hugs. You guys are always in my heart and in my thoughts.
Love and hugs.
My heart goes out to you. I think about Maddie often, even though I do not know her except through your blog. She has made a lifetime impact on me and she will always be remembered.
Mary @ Holy Mackerel says:
I have tears in my eyes, and I know they are only a fraction of a fraction of those you have shed for Maddie. I miss her and I didn’t even know her. It is unimaginable to me, unfathomable how you must feel each day. I am praying for peace for you, even if it’s just for a moment or two.
Momma Lioness Michele says:
Exactly what Deborah said.
Thank you for sharing your Maddie with us. She is truly one of a kind. I only know of her, and of you and your family, through your words here, and my heart is shattered for you. Sending you and yours love across the miles.
Thank you for sharing that with us…
I dont say it often enough, but thatnk you for sharing Maddie with us. She is loved by millions.
I wish I could take the pain away! HUGS to you
it is so unfair. I still have trouble believing that she was taken so young and so innocent and so precious from you and mike. it is not fair. i have been reading your blog from before this all happened and it still doesn’t seem real. i am so sorry for your pain and your loss and always will be.
OMG This made me cry. My heart dropped while I was reading this .. I cant imagine the strong pain that you feel, not being able to hold your little girl, feeling her hair she once had. How sick this makes me feel and I cant do any thing but say how sorry I am for your loss and pain. My prayers are with you and so are my (((hugs))) that I send you way.
Just want to send along wishes of peace to you and your family.
Today I was sitting here at my compuer at the end of my rope with my little ones. Nothing I did was good enough, nothing they did could make it better. It was a rough day in kid-dom. Nothing that would make the evening news, but rough for us. In reality, it was just a lot of petty bickering and whining, but enough to send a Mom to the freezer for ice cream, or for a 2nd glass of wine after the kids went to bed. And then I read your post. And I cried. I hope your writing is cathartic for you, b/c it leaves me speechless. I read your post and I stood up from my computer and went in and kissed my sleeping babies. (I left the Ben & Jerry’s by the computer.) Nothing I could ever say will make you feel better, I know that. But, I hope that just by commenting you’ll understand how much you help me. And know what an impact your daughter still makes everyday.
Oh, how you must miss your girl!
Just a big hug. ( with tears in my eyes.) xoxoxoxoxo
Trisha Vargas says:
Speechless with tears falling!
(((((HUGS))))) to you from Florida
Post literally brought me to tears at work. I am so glad you cut those curls.
Love you Heather. xoxoxoxo
Oh Heather, you can’t be all things to all people. You just do the best you can, and everyone knows that. Love to you. xo
My heart is in my throat as I read your words. I want so badly for things to be different for you; easier, kinder, a world with your daughter in it instead of without her. I don’t even know you and I grieve for you like I would grieve for my best friend.
Hugs and love to you and your family, for this and all the other struggles in your life.
I could not have said it better myself.
These posts just stop my heart. I cannot begin to imagine only having a lock of hair. I think you are one of the bravest mama’s I know.
This post gave me goose bumps. I just can’t imagine…….
You always move me to tears Heather. This is so amazing.
Laurie SL says:
I’m so sorry for your pain. My heart is aching for you and your family and for Maddie. Hoping everything goes well and things look brighter soon.
I see her curls….perfect, playful, now silent and still and I weep for the little girl I never met but fell in love with and miss with such agony and despair.
Helpless, is what I feel….so far away from you Unable to wrap my arms around you to comfort you, unable to wipe your tears. To far away to tell you in person I am sorry…so sorry for placing worry upon your shoulders.
The rain falls gentle here, almost as if the Angels are crying….just like the rest of us!.
I have the same box. I’ve only opened it once. It doesn’t give me comfort….yet. I hope someday it does.
What a beautiful place box to hold your treasures. I feel sick that this is the way you have to touch her curls.
Praying for your aunt…
each time I read your blog (everyday…) I am reminded of an unforgettable girl so close to my own heart, a girl who left this planet decades too soon, a girl I long to see/touch/hold “Just one more time…” and I know that my pain is only a fraction of your own. This girl is my niece, and though she and I were so very close, I know it isn’t the same pain you feel every. single. day.
This post actually made my cry out loud, knowing you must just ache for her.
My heart and thoughts are with you, Heather.
I am absolutely bawling!!!
Heather, I can’t imagine the pain that overwhelms you on some days…
My continuous prayers are with you and your family.
That was beautiful, Heather. Maddie is by far the prettiest little girl I have ever seen. Not a lie. I swear. You were lucky to have the time that you did with her. My thoughts are with all of you, including your aunt.
Owie. I love reading about Annie and how she is growing up and how much joy you have together,
and I love to read of Maddie and your remembrances and your never-ending journey of missing her. I love the links back, too. Even though they make me feel sad and wish so hard for all of you that losing her just was not real.
Your box is so beautiful by itself and of course because of it precious treasures. Hair is not enough to hold on to, but I am so glad you were able to save something else that is her to touch and to smell and to hold.
I would never have washed that shirt either and would have it wrapped in a Ziploc to keep the scent of her sealed in, but would absolutely take it out all of the time to smell her.
I am so sorry for the four (five- her little best bud’ Rigby, too) of you
While my loss isn’t as great as yours, I too have a “box” I go to. I lost my first pregnancy when I was six months along. I have the blanket he was wrapped in and two sets of his tiny footprints that I keep in a canvas bag in my closet. Sometimes I just wanted the bag near me and some days all I could do was stare at the the tiny footprints and wonder what could have been. Five years and two children later and the contents of that bag are still extremely precious to me since it’s all I have of him. I understand, if only a tiny amount.
Thank you for sharing with us. Every time you write about Maddie, every time her beautiful face pops up in a banner ad for Friends of Maddie and every time you share a picture of her, we are all reminded that Maddie was here and was and always will be an inspiration. Thank you.
I’m thinking of you and praying that you find peace.
So sad and so precious, those beautiful curls of Maddie’s.
My heart ached as I read this, Heather, for the loss of your darling girl. It’s an honor that you shared the most intimate treasure with all of us today.
Maddie brightened the world. I’m thinking of you and Mike and Annie every day.
Oh yes, tears one again. Her curls are so beautiful, as are you Heather.
Those beautiful, beautiful curls. I’m glad you saved them so that when you need to, they can bring you some comfort.
Marti from Michigan says:
I wish with all my heart that I could give Maddie back to both of you.
Much Love from Michigan!
Alicia @bethsix says:
I’ve read those other posts before, I know, but my god, the one about your shirt. Tears my heart out.
Seeing those curls made me cry. Oh Heather… what a horrible box.. but I can understand how comforting it must be in other ways. Hoping that you find the peace you want at this time… praying for all of you (your aunt too). love and hugs from NJ.
Your Box is NOT HORRIBLE Heather!!! It’s precious and pure just like Maddie and it’s yours and will be forever!!! Hugs and Love to you my dear friend!
I’m sorry if my words were taken out of context. I meant no harm/sadness/anger to Heather… I just meant how horrible to have the box and not Maddie… that’s all. Again, sorry if I offended anyone.
How I know that they mean so so so much.
I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this – I wish that Maddie was here.
What a reminder to never take anything for granted.
Thinking of you today.
I love you, and I love Maddie and I hate that she’s not here with you.
DesignHER Momma says:
punch me in the chest, my heart hurts. I love you.
Sending hugs and love your way as tears stream down my face!
Stephanie Padilla Salgado says:
My heart goes out to you during what I know must be unbearable pain & heartache. I kind of know the pain you are feeling as I lost my only sister in January and although I know that the lost of a child brings even more suffering,I too struggle to get by. I wish that we could turn back the hands of time & have our loved one with us 4EVER. So please know that you are not alone and you have the support of all you friends family & followers to lend a hand, shoulder & ears. From your faithful follower in Texas. God Bless
Wendy Wiseman says:
We are sending you love, strength and support. Look at all your dear friends here that are loving you.
Wendy & Sherry
Rachel ~ Southern Fairytale says:
Oh my sweet friend
hugs and kisses
I’m so, so sorry for your loss. You make me a better mom, better person.
Alexandra :) says:
Such beautiful curls I would never cut them either. Just curious, what made you chose green for the color of the box?
I probably would have cut every single curl because they are all so sweet and I’m quite a bit OCD like that.
I think of you and your family all the time. We have the exact.same.box. I wish we both didn’t have those darn boxes and those beautiful curls. I wish instead our girls were still with us. Thank you for sharing your journey. We too have since had a second daughter and she brings us oh so much joy, but never replaces her older sister or can fill the huge gaping hole in my heart. Hugs to you and your entire family!
Sometimes I still can’t believe that she is gone. It just doesn’t seem possible. My thoughts are with you. And I’m so glad you have so many wonderful pictures and videos of your girl. I know you probably wish you had even more, but I’m glad you have the many you do! *hugs*
Just now able to come back and write without crying. My heart breaks for you and your family.. I think about you guys everyday and hope that each day is a little brighter. I only know you from your blog but yet feel like you are my friend. Sending you hugs and lots of love….
I’ve kept my grandma’s shirts for over 6 years, smelling them because they smelled like her. Going through them thinking of the places she’s been. Her trench coats with the tissues in the pockets. Just smelling them. A year ago my cousin made my favorite shirts into a quilt. I sleep with it every night, even if it’s 90 degrees outside.
You are very lucky to have Maddie’s hair. I’ve mentioned before my parents lost my older brother. They have 1 photo that is stored away in the safety deposit box in the vault at the bank. Other than that and his birth certificate, they don’t have anything but their memories. He didn’t have long hair, but he had a shock of dark brown hair that I have. We had the same brown eyes. I’d like to think we’d have resembled each other a lot.
They don’t have a favorite shirt, or even a memory of the cold cold room. Just one solitary photo. If they could’ve I know they would have the memory box you do and I know it would’ve been passed down to me. They have a tree that someone gave them at the funeral. This tree is 32 years old and sits on a table in our living room. I will inherit that as well, and even though I am not a fan of plants (long story) I will keep it forever, and showcase it in a spot in my own home one day.
My first son was 29 weeks early. 3lb. 2oz. Our second son was 38 wks. 8lbs. 5ozs.(He had bad Reflux.) Both were sent home on apnea monitors. The nurses would collect things for us like a small diaper, or the first bottle, the heart stickers that hold the wires on. Their first pacifier, cute signs they would make for them.
Well now I save way too much of their items! I have almost all of their papers and projects and gifts that he made or drew for me since he started pre-school until last year (His Senior Year) I have most of his special toys.I have clothes, shoes, hats,mittens,special blankets and much much more things that I can’t bear to share, loan,or donate to anyone. It has been almost twenty years ago I should be ready to downsize. Yet the same thing happens every time I start going through the boxes. All of the memories. I still need all of those memories! How do I chose which ones go and which ones stay? As for now I will not do it.
**Sorry it should have been 29 wks gestation and 38 wks gestation** SORRY
Heather, I cannot imagine your pain. I am sending you hugs and I pray for you everyday. Thank you so much for sharing your family with us.
What a lovely, peaceful gesture. Those locks are gorgeous! I’m sorry you’re feeling anxious. I hope it passes soon.
has anyone told you lately how amazing you are! The mere fact you write and share such things takes so many gutwrenching guts that most of us can not and hopefully will not have a clue about. However, the blessing you give with such writings, is that we hold our babies a little closer, and we are so thankful for each and every moment. Infact I was pregnant when Madeline passed away it was a name I considered naming my daughter to remind me what a blessing I have thanks to your daughters life! (however my wee one didn’t come out looking like a Maddie so she is an Addie!) What an amazing Mother your girls have! What a blessing it is for all of us Mothers to read your blog.
I have my dads hair in a locket. I wish I could take your pain away. I wish that you didnt have to hurt. I am so sorry. I have kept you in my prayers since learning of your story before Maddie was sick. Hugs, hugs and more hugs.
I read often but rarely comment. Thinking of you as you pass through these hard days. My heart skipped a beat for a moment when I saw the box. We have almost the exact one with memories of our son, given to us at the hospital. Wow. If you have shown it before, I missed it.
I hope you have some peace ahead.
Aunt Becky says:
God, I miss those curls.
I wish there was something I could say to lessen your pain. What a beautiful little girl. What a beautiful gift she was, and what a beautiful gift you give to us by opening your heart to us every day. Be well, and know that you are loved from every corner of this Internet.
Try not to feel like you are letting anybody down…your aunt would NOT want you to feel that way. If just a phone call or send some flowers is what you can do for today or this week, that is enough. Take care of you, Annie and Mike and do what you can for others…Don’t get to feeling bad or overwhelmed. Your sweet family wants Mommy to be happy. As do all of us. Take care, hon.
Beautiful post, beautiful child.
I hope tomorrow is better and you don’t feel so stressed and anxious.
Dee Dee says:
Hugs! We love you!
You are an amazing person who inspires so many. Both maddie and Annie are blessed to have a mother who is as caring and passionate about her children as you are.
Just when I think I’m having a day of sadness I click on your blog and read this and I realize that my sadness is things that can be changed….yours isn’t…and I am so sorry for that….those are such beautiful curls from such a beautiful girl. I wish she could be there with you Heather…I really do….
What a beautiful box. My mom’s made a similar one for her sister who passed away as a newborn. I know it will be very special for Annie and her children to look at.
Long time reader, never commented. I cried reading this. How my heart goes out to you, Mike and your family. There are no words but rather hold those memories close and never let go. xo.
I am SO SORRY, as I know we all are. And I wish I could give more than just that. Than just, “I’m sorry.” But I can’t. ;o(
I am so happy that you at least have her two perfect curls with you. Though I know it will never be enough…
My heart and prayers go out to you, always. And your aunt will be in my prayers.
Jenni Williams says:
I have the same box. My heart stopped seeing the picture. Those little curls break my heart into a million pieces. Heather and Mike you are always in my heart and mind.
Those are the two most perfect curls I have ever seen in all my life.
Thank you once again for sharing.
I don’t know you Heather, but I think of you & your family every day. I’d give anything to be able to say something that would make you feel even just a teeny bit better.
Sending SO much love to you guys
Hi Heather. I just wanted to let you know that I used Maddie as a model for a drawing in one of my sketchbooks, if you would like to check it out on my blog! Those eyes!
Sending love from AZ!
Michelle W says:
It will never make sense
It will always hurt like hell, really there are no words adequate to describe your kind of pain and grief
Maddie will never be forgotten and will always be loved by countless friends, family and all around the world.
Her beautiful face so full of character always takes my breath away.
kymberli q. says:
Tears. God bless you, Heather.
I started following your blog a few weeks ago. I’ve been desperately trying to catch up to today with all your blogs. I’ve never commented before, but this one just moved me so much. What a precious box you have. Maddie was so beautiful, too beautiful for words I must say. I wish I could understand your pain and loss.
It’s funny though, how I’ve never met your family, but I am constantly reminded of you guys when ever I see purple. There’s wild purple flowers all around where I live so I am always thinking of Maddie. My heart just goes out to you all. Prayers for your Aunt and for your comfort.
Snickrsnack Katie says:
God bless you. I wish I could take away all those tears for you… so glad you still have those wonderful curls!
rachel cortest says:
My box is under my bed. After it had been a year I started believing that Tomas was make-believe. Otherwise how could he just disappear?? But then I saw and felt his lock of hair and I could not stop crying. I understand your grief, although I also know that each person’s grief is unique-and lonely.
You really have such a gift. Your words allow me to feel, smell and experience Maddie and all that she was and remains to be. They also allow us to appreciate the amazing connection you had and your infinite love. I am so sorry for your pain, but so grateful for your honesty in sharing with us.
What a powerful post — the picture of her curls, followed by the picture of the actual, beautiful girl. it takes one’s breath away, the juxtaposition of those two images. Your love and yearning are so strong that I can feel them in my gut, and I wish I could give you comfort somehow.
Love and strength to you.
I gave a soft little gasp sitting here at my desk at work when I saw those two beautiful curls. So sad. So incredibly sad.
Right now my baby is in the NICU. We’ve been there 4 1/2 months (I started following your blog long before I had my baby). It sucks. And on bad days, like today, you give me strength. I realize my bad days are not so bad. I pray for you all the time, but I think that you are somehow the answer to my prays. You are such an inspiration to me. It’s hard to believe that this much hurt can actually exist in the world, but we get through, we survive. I hope this doesn’t upset you. I just want you to know I think you are an amazing woman and mother to your girls.
I wasn’t home to leave you words of encouragement in your time of sorrow. It seems that everyday is a struggle..some days are more difficult than others…retreat to the safe spot where you can feel her and feel how much she loves you…she does.
Wishing you peace and love….especially on the hard days.
Never met you, and I don’t know you. But I check your blog so frequently. Waiting for more adventures of the Amazing Annabelle, waiting to see what funny story you’ve posted, wishing there was a new story about Maddie. Thinking she should be in Annabelle’s adventures. Maddie is SO real to me, so ALIVE in my mind. Then when I read one of your heartbreaking posts I remember that she is gone and that you are not the person you once were. I know this seems so insignificant, but I think of your family everyday and say a prayer for you all.
Rebecca Zhang says:
Sometimes the universe sucks. I am sorry that you and Mike are going through this.
Jessica@The Snooty Sniffer says:
Whenever I read about something like this it makes me want to cry – I feel the pain that you and your husband went through when she died. Always remember your little girl…