|Our little super girl in her new backpack on her 2nd birthday|
Tomorrow is Isabelle's 4th birthday. It is impossible to believe that another year dawns without her. This time last year we were operating in a completely different space-time where our world had stopped and the rest kept going. We were living in a constant state of vertigo, in which life was a fuzzy program outside the windows of our shock, sorrow and devastation. Stumbling and literally nauseous with sadness, we kept walking forward - somehow we kept walking forward - as hard as it was. As hard as it sometimes still is.
This year, shaky ground continues to make way for balance and the world is more and more something we live in and take part in. Our days are no longer completely crippled by devastation, though make no mistake;
of her absence
is constant and unrelenting.
We are often told that we are strong, that we are doing well. But if we are strong, we are strong because strong is our only choice. You may not see the lump in my throat or the tightening of the tear ducts as I fight for composure, but every minute of every day I am gripped by the longing for our little girl. And as time separates us, I ache with the unknowing of what she would look like now, what she would sound like. What wonderful new things she would be doing; what discoveries we would be making together.
Richard and I are blessed with a beautiful love, beautiful children and beautiful people in our life. Despite our pain we've learned to enjoy life again. To laugh again. We roll in the grass with our son and float on the sounds of our baby girls' giggles. And one of the only clear moments I recall in those terrible first hours of this new normal of ours, was that I had never ever felt as close to another human being as I did to my husband. And that feeling remains, for which I am grateful. It is a stark paradox within which we live; elevated in peaks of happiness and joy, surrounded by love, family, friends and laughter, while anchored with the vacancy of our cherished first child. Both extremes are real, and both are present. We're learning to allow them to co-exist.
I would give anything to be naive again, to believe that only good things happen to good people, to believe somehow that the world was fair. I'm still figuring out what to do with this unwanted enlightenment, which ironically only makes our world smaller. I do not want tragedy and loss to define our lives - and it won't - but yet, how do I place what happened to Isabelle? It still seems so unfair, so very wrong. I can only say there is a sense of freedom once it is realized that things are out of our control. You let go. I'm not there yet, but my grip is loosening.
In the end it is not honoring Isabelle by giving up, by crawling under a rock and never coming out. That much we knew from the beginning. We can only take the knowledge of how fast our world turned upside down and try our best to feel our way through every moment given to us. To enjoy it, to see the good in it. To focus on what matters. Most importantly, to not let it slip by. For Isabelle, we choose to live. To try to live life as fully as she did. That, I believe, is the best way to honor her...to celebrate her, not only on her birthday, but everyday.
Our sweet girl Isabelle,
We will blow bubbles to you on your birthday. They are filled with billions of particles of love that will float up to you and embrace you. We will bake Magnolia cupcakes with your favorite pink sprinkles. The four of us will hold each other tight around the memory of you in the middle. Please know that while our life continues down here, I can still feel - really feel - the soft contours of your face in the palm of my hand, your daddy thinks of you when he reads your favorite books or sings your favorite songs, your brother inherited your same gorgeous giggle, and your new little sister has the honor of carrying your name in hers.
We love you, our enormously missed Isabelle.