I was going through old emails when I stumbled upon a letter I sent to family and friends almost exactly three years ago. It was my second Thanksgiving without Madeline and I was feeling a mix of sadness and gratitude. Some things have changed since then, but much of this is still true.
November 24, 2008
I have come a long way since last year, and I wanted to share with you how I am feeling with Thanksgiving just days away. Thanksgiving. Last year even just the word pissed me off. My daughter is dead and now I'm supposed to sit around and cheerfully give thanks. Not going to happen. But the passage of time has smoothed down some of my sharp jagged feelings (not all of them, but some) and I have come to realize that there are things in my life that I am grateful for.
I am thankful for having had Madeline for as long as I did. Those months we spent as a happy family while I was pregnant with her overflowed with beautiful, innocent joy. It wasn't nearly long enough, but it was 41 more weeks of joy then I would have had without her. And I have met mothers who spent much less time with their children, who carried them lovingly in their womb but never had the chance to feel the weight of their child in their arms. I held my daughter, I stared at her for hours and drank her in.. I snuck my finger into her little fist, I kissed her soft cheeks. I saw that her eyes were the shape of her Daddy's and that her cheekbones were high like mine, and that she'd bypassed both of us for a pretty little nose like my sister's. The hours we spent with her in our arms were heartbreaking, but I treasure them so much, and I am deeply grateful for them.
I am thankful that I was able to conceive two perfect little babies and feel each of them grow inside me. The days when I felt the fluttering of those little babies of mine were some of the best moments of my life. I have nurtured life in my body twice, and I will be forever grateful for that.
I am thankful my house is no longer sickeningly silent. There is life and laughter here again, mainly because of a brand new noise that arrived this year- the squealing and crying and babbling and shrieking and giggling of the most amazing boy who has ever lived (in my humble opinion, of course.) The world is once again a desirable place to be because of Ben. Before he came along, I was done with this place. Ready to leave for good. He has restored my purpose. He is my reason for being. He didn't make it all better, I would never dream of asking him to- he's just a little boy and that isn't his job- but he has made me happy to be alive again and that is a pretty big deal. Who wouldn't be thankful for that.
I am most thankful that I am a mother, and that title was given to me by the most beautiful little girl in the world. My firstborn, my Madeline. I am beyond thankful.
But I am still broken and I am still allowed to be. I am suffocated by the idea of another Christmas morning without Madeline and her second birthday soon after. I cannot say that I have found a place of peace where I can exist happily, content with the way life is, but I can look around me and see that there is good here, there are things to be grateful for. That is progress for me. And for that, I am thankful.