On Tuesday I was instant messaging with a friend when I mentioned that I felt really anxious, as if an anxiety attack were imminent. I told her how I hated feeling like that, especially since I couldn’t identify the stressor that was causing the anxiety. All my articles were in, my taxes were done, and my bills were paid. She very kindly said, “Well…could it be that it’s, you know, April? And you have a bad day coming up?” I felt stupid for not realizing something so obvious, although it really shows just how much I have to compartmentalize that part of my life to function. Still, grief always finds a way to rear its ugly head.

This week I’ve found myself drifting off. I’ve always been fairly easy to distract, but this week I’m doing dumb things like walking away from my car without turning off the engine (twice), or leaving my phone on a park bench (someone watched it until I came back). Normally I try to stay as busy as possible on this day, but I think my forgetfulness is a sign that I should stay in and lay low.

This picture is the lock screen on my iPhone. We were in Arizona, on our annual Spring Training trip with Mike’s family. Mike and his dad, sister, and brother-in-law went to play tennis, but since it was hot I decided to take Maddie to the pool. I put her in this little polka dot bikini – one of my favorite things she owned – and used the camera on my computer to snap this picture. I love it so much. I remember how she splashed around in the pool, laughing and clinging onto me. I showed her how to kick her feet and told her she’d be taking swim lessons that summer. I can still feel the cool water and her skin against mine.

I can’t wrap my mind around that picture being eight years old. I can’t wrap my mind around her being gone for eight years. I miss her in indescribable ways. I remember how much fun she had playing with her cousins Spencer and Danny, and I try to imagine her playing with Michaela and Liam. Strangely, I can let my mind picture that, but I rarely let myself think about what it would be like to see her with her sister and brother. It’s too painful.

I try to treat today like any other day, but of course, it never will be. It’s the anniversary of the day I last held and kissed my baby. It’s the anniversary of the worst day of my life. And even though I have so many wonderful things to hold and kiss and love today, I will never, ever stop wishing for just one more day to hold and kiss her.

I love you so much, Maddie. I miss you.