My mom wrote this and sent it to me yesterday:
In the weeks and months after Maddie passed away, I found myself constantly looking at pictures of her on Heather’s photo site. Heather had them all set up by her age, family gatherings etc, so it was easy to look at any picture I wanted. She also had videos of Maddie and I watched them obsessively, usually late at night on my computer, before I went to bed. I loved seeing her move around and laugh, those big eyes were so expressive, they just pulled you in. I got lost in all of them. My favorite video was her interacting with her cousins at Christmas. She was so incredibly happy, it was a joy to watch her every move.
And then after that first year, I just couldn’t watch anymore. Instead of joy, I just felt such sadness and emptiness, I started crying through every video… I still looked at her pictures, though, she is all over my house in frames on the walls, on the night stands and in one of those moving frames that Heather and Mike bought for us. I see them every night, and I always smile when I see my Maddie. But the videos became so painful…to see her so alive and happy and then know she wasn’t, it was too much…so I stopped watching. But I felt so guilty, like a betrayal, I was shutting her out.. I prayed every night to her that she would understand, that I still loved her.
Then a few months back, I was babysitting Annie and we were watching “Annie Videos” (her most favorite thing to do) and after it ended another video came up with a picture of Maddie. I froze, hoping Annie wouldn’t notice but of course, she did, and wanted to watch it. I held my breath and hit play…it was the video of Maddie as a Rock Star, singing with Heather and then crawling over to her Daddy, looking up at him with those big, adoring eyes. Annie LOVED it, clapped her hands and said “Again!” So I played it again and this time I watched Annie enjoying her sister and I felt at peace for the first time in a very long time.
It’s amazing she sent this yesterday, because all day long Annie was asking me to “watch Maddie.” It’s been so hard for me to watch them, for all the reasons my mom stated above. But I can’t deny Annie just because it’s hard for me. If she wants to see her sister, I have to get over my emotions and let her. I set her up with a playlist and put the screen in her lap.
Rigby heard Maddie’s voice and jumped up next to Annie. I think she wanted to see Maddie, too.
She sat in the chair and watched the entire playlist I’d set up, twenty minutes of video. When it was over, she asked to watch it again. I sat in the hallway and took deep breaths.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to watch with her.