On Sunday there was a problem with my computer so we took it in to be looked at. The technician’s diagnosis was about as good as I could have hoped for – my computer could be fixed relatively inexpensively and be back to me in a week – but as we left the store I was nonetheless angry and raw with emotion. It only took a couple minutes for me to realize I was acting like one of those cliched characters in the movies who throw a fit over something seemingly inconsequential because, in actuality, they’re broken up over something much, much larger.
April 7th had been approaching for a while and I’d been dreading it even more than usual. A big reason for this is because, in some ways, it’s harder to face the pain of that day now than it was in the beginning. I say this because, while the pain in the days after Maddie passed away was overwhelming, people expected me to be overwhelmed. Now, four years later, I can’t let myself be overwhelmed. I have too many responsibilities in this new life I’ve pieced together – not the least of which is a three-year-old who needs to be taken care of on April 7th as much as the other 364 days of the year. Keeping it together while coping with this loss is always incredibly debilitating, but no more than on April 7th.
Still, I wouldn’t wish the pain away because – as messed up as it sounds – it’s one of the few remaining connections I have to Maddie. The only thing more painful than coping with Maddie’s loss is imagining that she will be forgotten; that she will turn into a part of our life that used to be as opposed to being a part of the one that is.
A couple weeks ago a stylist at SuperCuts asked me if the new baby would be our second, and I nodded because I didn’t want to ruin her day. I don’t think I’d ever done that before. In the past I would have made a point of mentioning Maddie. I felt terrible afterward, and even hours later I had the urge to drive back and tell her this would, in fact, be our third child. I wanted to tell her that our first child, Madeline, was an amazing, beautiful, unfailingly sweet little girl who I loved more than anything I ever thought possible. I wanted to tell her that Maddie… was here.
It’s a nasty trick the way time moves on. My memories of my life with Maddie have begun to fade no matter how hard I try to cling to them, the world Maddie and I knew slowly falls away (I no longer live in the same home we lived in, for example), and more and more people enter my life who never knew her.
Luckily, our friends and family were great on Sunday. We received flowers, emails, texts, tweets, Facebook messages, and donations to Friends of Maddie and our March of Dimes team. All of these things made me feel like Maddie was a little bit closer, and for that I am grateful.
I did my part to bring Maddie a little closer, too. When Annie was asleep, and the responsibilities of the day were done, I closed my eyes and meditated on my little Maddie Moo. I tried not to think about that April 7th, and instead focused on the days we spent together. One memory I especially savored was of coming home from work in the evenings and seeing Maddie light up and shimmy toward me, squealing. Those were beautiful moments, and I could almost see them in my mind just as they happened.. almost.
Daddy loves you, little girl. Forever and ever.