Two years ago, at 12:23 am, you made your unexpected debut into our lives. Until then, and even after, I didn’t know what it meant to be a mother. You taught me so much. Two years later, not having you here with me doesn’t hurt any less. We’ve sort of learned how to live with this gaping hole in our lives, but in some ways, it feels more painful than ever. I think I’ve only just begun to realize what it means to have an entire lifetime of missing you ahead of me. As we’ve watched your cousin Hallie and your little brother grow into beautiful little people, all the things that we’re missing with you have finally started to hit home. The birthdays and cakes, the milestones, the cuddles and kisses are all so sweet, but so painful too. Every event and holiday feels like it’s taking me farther from you. Sometimes I hate that time passes, because it passes without you. I never wanted to leave you behind.
You’re still a huge presence in our lives, of course. We have pictures of you everywhere. We talk to William about you. He knows your name and your face, and when I say “Lucy” to him, he smiles and waves at your picture. I see you in him a lot of times; I think you two would have looked a lot alike. He just turned one, he’s already getting so big. Recently, your ashes finally found a new home in a small pewter heart. It took us so long to do anything with them because we couldn’t bear to think about it. I don’t know if all of your ashes will stay there or not, but for now, I’m glad they’re there. It’s small enough to fit in the palm of my hand, and it warms up as I hold it. It’s heavy, and solid, and more inviting than the plastic box the mortuary gave us. I know it’s not you in there, but I’m still glad your ashes have a nice place to rest now. They’re sitting on a bookshelf in William’s room (and your room too), along with some of your other things. I like to imagine you watching over your little brother there.
Lucy, I’ve struggled a lot this year. I didn’t think I could ever have a harder time than I did when we said goodbye to you, but it’s even more difficult to try every day to be the kind of person I want to be for you. I struggle every day with guilt and shame for my failings as your mommy. A lot of people have told me that I was strong, but I know in my heart that I wasn’t the kind of strong mommy you needed. I could have and should have done better. You deserved the very best me possible, and I didn’t give it to you. I was too focused on the wrong things, and I didn’t know until it was too late. You are so sweet, though. I know that you would know all that and still forgive me and love me. I hope that you know that even with all my failings, nobody could love you more than I do. There are so many things I wish I could change about that time, and I can’t change any of them. The only way I know how to deal with that is by trying harder every day to be the kind of person who would make you proud, and to be the kind of mom who would deserve the precious gifts she’s been given in you and William. I fail a lot. Most days I fall short. I try and try, and I just keep failing. But continuing to try is what it’s all about, right? I know, nobody is perfect, so I’ll just keep on trying to be better, and trying to forgive myself at the same time. Because really, this isn’t about me at all. It’s about you and all the lives you touched. Hopefully, it’s about making the world a little bit better in your honor.
Some days are very dark for me, Lucy, but you are still my little light, and you always will be. I love you, darling girl, with every bit of my cracked, imperfect heart.
This is the elephant Uncle Justin gave her. He wears a bandaid that she had on when she died. The heart is the urn that her ashes are in.
Twilight beach print by CarlyMarie.