Emmy

My daughter

Twelve Years Gone

In 2006, a day after I hit the one year mark -I had my first panic attack.  The full blown panic that grabs hold of your insides and refuses to let them go.  The racing thoughts, struggle to breath and full on panic that comes with it.  At the time, I didn’t know what it was.  Just that I was officially, going crazy.  For good this time.  Looking back I realize now, it was because I had so much tied up in that anniversary day -I expected so much from that day and when nothing happened, when the day went on as if nothing had happened -everything came crashing in.

It was the start this journey, this path, this road.  This process, if you will.

One of my biggest worries, perhaps -was that I would actually -forget her.  That perhaps -and one day I would no longer remember the things that made her, her.  I would forget her smile, her laugh, the way her fingers wrapped around mine.  That one day I would forget what it felt like to walk into a room where she was.  That perhaps I would remember her -but not for who she really was to me.

It wasn’t long after that, that I realized I needed an outlet.  A way to enjoy her memories and pictures -a way, if you will -to remind myself that she did exist, and that I wasn’t going crazy.  A way to preserve these special things that meant the world to me.  The details.

I designed a website (that I have since closed down) that centered around her images.  I wrote pages after pages of words that made no sense -trying desperately, to understand what was happening…and eventually, I settled on creating a page for her -once a year.  At the time, I didn’t have any plans to stop.  I would create a page, every year -until the day I died.

…and for the past twelve years, that is exactly what I have done.  I have dug up old pictures, memories, quotes and sayings -I have spent weeks, sometimes months -trying to assemble something.  The pages weren’t perfect -yet I spent hours going over them attempting to perfect them.  Each year means something different, something special.  Each page holds the feelings and thoughts that were going through my mind.  It gave me a way to remember her -creatively, without going off the edge.

It gave me something to focus on, to apply myself to, to throw myself at.  A distraction, if you will.

2015, I thought, would be the last year.  A ten year mark.  What better way to put an end to an old habit.  But ten years proved to be just as challenging, if not more so, than that first year.  I needed the distraction.  I needed her pictures…I needed her memory.  And so I continued.  As uninspired and painful as it was -I made the page.

This year, I feel is the year.  The year I will finally put to rest, an old habit that got me through some tough times.

It isn’t because I am going to forget her.  It isn’t that I will stop remembering her.  It isn’t that I wish to stop sharing her with the world -because believe me, if I could, I would.  It is just that I have reached a place in my life, in my process -where I feel I need to move on.  I need to let go.

She will always be in my heart.  She will always be in my thoughts.  I will always smile when I think of her -and hope others do too.  I will still look at her pictures, remember her quirks and wish to hold her -but once more.

But I no longer need to throw myself into a project -once a year.  I no longer need a distraction.  Sure, I still miss her -I think I always will.  Sure, I still will remember her -everyday of every year.  Sure, I will still wonder how it’s possible that this much time has passed -without her.  But I need to let her go.

I have come to realize that I will never forget her.  There may be days where I can’t remember what her voice sounded like -but that too, comes back when I least expect it.  I will never forget her sparkling blue eyes, contagious laughter or sticky kisses.  I will never forget the way she smiled -and made others smile.  I will never forget her hugs.  I will never forget these things.  I no longer have the fear of forgetting.

I have come to realize that the tighter I hold her memory -the more I lose.  The more I let go -the more I gain…which has helped me realize

…that it is time to let her go…

e-0011

I love you my girl, I always will.

Happy Birthday My Girl

My words are slowly coming back, but they still are tangled and confusing -even to me. I tried to write something but didn’t get very far. October is a very confusing month for me. I thought about passing it up this year, but it just didn’t feel right.

Instead I will just say -Happy birthday my girl. Wherever you are.

untitled1

I Miss You

I haven’t written about her here in a while, a long while, to be honest…and while part of that can be a testament of how time works in healing wounds, part of it is also because I haven’t been able to make coherent thoughts lately, let alone -words. One thing I have never been able to do is look at pictures that are, perhaps, close to the time of when she died. I can look at the pictures from the year before, months before even. But pictures that are close to the time when she died? I can’t bring myself to do that. I just can’t.

Last night I was looking through some old photos -trying to find one of Dylan when he was younger, because as you may have guessed, I can’t look at any recent pictures of him either, when a picture fell out that made me pause to catch my breath. In the quiet darkness of the night I held what is perhaps that last picture I ever took of her.

A picture of her in all her ornery glory. Her grin, her hair, the scratch on her chin that followed her to her grave. All of it was there. In one black and white image that I have never looked at or posted before. I took a few minutes to memorize the details before putting it back in the small folder that holds the hard copies of the very few pictures I have of her. Two years does not present a lot of opportunities for pictures. I have very few pictures of her…what ones I do have, I hold very close.

It’s been an incredibly difficult eleven years. I miss her more this year than perhaps in years past. I couldn’t tell you why -perhaps it is because the wounds have been opened and the grief of losing another person is fresh. I don’t know. It is different, this missing. It isn’t that soul scraping pain that feels as if you will be hollowed out from the inside out, but rather a dull ache that something…someone…is missing.

Small glimpses of her remind me of all that I am missing. I had a very few short years with her -and while for them I am grateful, I am constantly reminded of all that I lost out on. All that I am missing. All that I don’t have. While I try to remain positive and look at what I do have -I can’t help but look longingly over my shoulder at what was. What will never be.

Life moves on, and with it, I have no choice but to move on as well.

But sometimes I must pause and acknowledge that dull ache. I must acknowledge that I loved her, love her, and always will love her. That the pain is there for a reason, the memories are not for naught, that she did exist, that the hole in my heart will always be there -as a small reminder, a token. To what was. What always will be…but what never shall be again.

I miss you.

Eleven

Tonight I climbed into bed way earlier than I should have. On the way to bed I passed by clothes strewn on the floor, dishes pouring out of the sink and way more dog and cat hair than I care to admit to. It’s been an extremely long weekend, a really long year and an even longer eleven years.

As much as I would like to say that I am in as good of a place as I was last year –I can’t. Because I’m not. A lot has been sandwiched in-between these two years, and a whole lot has taken place over the past eleven. I could beat myself up, for feeling the way I do –sad, depressed, upset, frustrated, angry…but I won’t. At least not tonight. I will cut myself some slack –but just for tonight.

You see, eleven years ago I faced the one thing that I was certain I would never get up from. Holding her as she took her final breaths –leaving her behind and moving forward –both figuratively and literally –has been, and will always be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. There simply are no words to explain how it feels to watch everything go down the drain in front of your eyes while you stand by –helplessly unable to do the very thing you were called to do.

There are no words to explain how life altering and uprooting it feels to be told that you, as a father, are helpless to do anything. The only thing you can now do is stand by and watch as your daughter dies. There are no words and so I will spare the world my attempts.

A lot has happened in these past eleven years. So much. So much has changed and moved. Time has ticked by –fast at times and slow at others. But steady. All along. Ticking by. I haven’t always been a willing participant in this life –there were times when giving up just seemed like the thing to do…and while I have been able to say in the past that time has helped me come to grips with this seemingly senseless occurrence, I can’t say that today.

Because today, I miss her.

Tonight I would do just about anything to have her back.

To just hold her, and tell her –one last time just how much I loved her.

Last year, I was in a place where I could see the light. I didn’t understand why –but I could accept what I couldn’t accept. I was moving forward –regardless of how slow. I was doing her justice by not wishing that I could have her back –no matter for how long. I was letting her go.

But this year, tonight, I can’t. I can’t let her go. I can’t let her memory slide. I can’t forget her. I can’t move on. Regardless of how long it has been –I still miss her…and I still wish to hold her once again.

EM15

I miss you, little one. I miss you more than words can ever say.

One day, Maybe

When I brought her home from the hospital that windy October afternoon, I never imagined what the next two years would hold, or that two years later I would leave the very same hospital with empty arms and an empty heart. I never imagined that I could love her so much that it would hurt so bad when I did leave. I never imagined that so many, many years later -she would wander across my mind and catch me off guard as I remembered the days. The days I spent not with her -but the days spent without her.

The days I spent with her were so short. So few. So far between. The memories I made with her were untainted, and unrecorded. I spent time with her not out of guilt or desire to remember, or because there might be a time when I looked back and would need those times to get through the difficult days. No, I didn’t spend time with her because of fear. The fear that I might not see another day with her. The time was short, but it was untainted, and unforced. It was as natural as it could have been.

As much as I have pushed through the grief and everything associated with it, and come out the other side -there is one piece that follows me around. Life will never be the same, and I have come to accept this fact. I have come to understand that I won’t be the same. I have even become ok with life, and have put my best foot forward in trying to understand the future, and what is involved with it. I have put my head in the game, and for the most part -do a pretty good job at living life. Or so I like to think. But there is one thing that still nags at the back of my mind.

Spending time with the people I care about and love is something that has taken me a long time to come around to. Getting close to people, opening up, talking, sharing, and building relationships is hard. It doesn’t come natural or easy. I constantly wonder if I am screwing up, doing it right, or making an un-fixable mistake. If I spend too much time with someone I wonder if it was the right thing. But not spending time with them leaves me wrecked with guilt imagining a day when I look back and WISH I had spent more time.

I long for those simple, untainted days.

Those days where I didn’t look at someone and want to plead with them to just take a few extra minutes and listen to what their kids are really saying. A day when I can spend time with the kids, and people I love and not have to feel like I am doing it out of duty -or for a rainy blue day.

I wish for that dumb, blind and ignorant view of the world. The one that knows there is danger around every corner -but assumes that somehow, it is for everyone but me. The one that sees sick kids, and only feels a small bit of remorse for what they are going through, and not a full fledged panic attack brought on by the memories of hospitals, machines, and death.

To go back to those days -where life was difficult, frustrating, confusing and hard. The life that made no sense, the life that I was screwing up -yet somehow made work. The life where a smile could make the entire day a little bit better.

Instead I try, in vain, to not be held back. To love without restraint, and live without regret. To be without the guilt and constant reminders. Sometimes it works -and sometimes it doesn’t. Some days I am able to say no without feeling guilty, and other days I am so wracked with the feelings that I could have…should have, done more -that I am unable to say no, and instead say yes, yes, yes -a million times over. As if buying extra candy, spending money I shouldn’t and giving time I don’t have will right all my wrongs. As if trying hard enough today will twist the past -and change the future.

One day maybe.

One day.

Ten Years Deep

Ten years ago,  I spent my day in complete denial.

I spent the day posted at the bedside of someone who never made it on national TV.  I spent the day cuddled up beside a small person the world knew nothing about.  A person who didn’t change the hearts of thousands, or stir up emotions in millions.  She was what most would call just another number, another drop in the bucket, another one of the seemingly endless statistics.

But she meant the world and more to me.

I don’t know why ten seems like such a monumental number.  Like I have reached the top of the summit I have been scaling and can finally breath.  As if ten is the magic number that will somehow make everything ok again.  As if ten, the number, in and of itself -has something to offer.

When in truth, it doesn’t.  Ten doesn’t mean anything different.  The year doesn’t mean everything will suddenly change, or that things will somehow, forever and always be ok.

Nine years ago, I spent the day waiting in anticipation for the magical release.

The approaching of ‘the day’ was agonizing.  Waiting in anticipation for the calendar to turn over another day, and somehow release me from the pain was almost more than I could take, and while the day itself was not that difficult – the days following, were.  Because there was no magic release.  There was no cure.  There was no magic ok.  All there was to look forward to were many more days, many more years, and many more unbearable moments where life seemed like the worst kind of torture possible.

Those were the only years that I had great expectations from.

The years in between were years I spent learning.  Learning that there is no magic number that will make everything ok.  Learning that some years are ok – and some years aren’t.  Learning that life in and of itself is not all tragic, but there are some bumpy moments along the way.  And learning that over the course of a long period of time, that intense, deep, burning from the very depths of your soul – will ease.

The pain that is felt when you lose a child, is a pain that cannot be explained.  It is a hole that cannot be filled.  An emptiness that will never be explained.  And a wound that will never be completely, healed.  Living life without the one you expect to be there, forever, is not something I ever expected to do.  And trying to muddle my way through the murky waters was something I had no idea how to do, or why I should even bother doing it.

These past few years aren’t all years that I have been proud of.

While its true, that I wish I could go back just a little over ten years ago – and erase everything that happened and change the outcome, I can’t.  While I wish I could trade places with my daughter, and let her experience life to its fullest, I can’t.  There isn’t anything I wouldn’t have done to save her life.

But she isn’t here.  And I am here.

I have made it ten years, doing the hardest thing I never though I could do.

While I would have chosen a different way of life, one that included my daughter, I can’t.

As we approach ten years, I am forced to realize that this is my life now.  And outside of changing the tragic happenings of ten years ago – I wouldn’t change the rest.

I have lived through the unimaginable pain of loosing my daughter.  I have fought to be where I am today, and while I am not proud of every moment -I am still here, despite loosing her.  If I were able to say these past ten years were easy, it would mean that I didn’t struggle, I didn’t miss, I didn’t question.  It would mean that I didn’t try every single road, avenue and option -before realizing that this was my life now.  Without her.  It would mean that I picked up and moved on with ease.  When that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Its impossible to think that living after a loss as devastating as this, that life would be easy.  To live life like nothing happened – would be to live life as if she didn’t exist.

As hard as it has been, I would rather live knowing that she was a part of my life, and embrace the pain and sorrow as a small reminder of someone who made my life just that much better -than to forgo the pain, and forget her.

Despite the pain, and sorrow -I have managed to make it ten years, and have come out with a better appreciation for life, and deeper love for those around me.  I still miss her, but ten years in I am able to say that deep burning from unexplainable depths -has eased.  It will never be completely erased, but I have chosen to go on smiling, loving and laughing -as I imagine she would have done, if given the chance.

Untitled

I still miss you little one, and love you with everything I have -please don’t forget.

Happy Birthday

I remember the day she was born, but not with the same fond memories that most have.  The day was tainted, and quickly went from what could have been one of the best days ever, to the worst.  Instead of becoming a family, we became separated – by death.  Instead of having ‘two’ I was walking away and left with one.  One, I had no idea what to do with.  For once, I was left alone – perhaps for the first time in my life.

She scared me.  All less than 10 pounds of her.  Everything about her scared me.  Her cry, her size, her eyes.  They terrified me.  Which was funny, considering I’m not scared of heights, the dark or even spiders -some of the most common fears around.  But being left alone with my infant daughter?  More than scared me.  It terrified me.

I don’t remember the day we went home.  Don’t recall that first night.  I don’t know when, or if really, the terror left.  I remember the crying.  I remember the weight of her and the combined responsibility being more than I could handle at times.  There was no “Its your turn, I just fed her/changed her/dealt with her.  There was only the crying.  The screaming.  The simply not knowing.  The pure TERROR of raising this tiny, helpless human.

I don’t remember when exactly, but somewhere between, the crying became less frequent, and the smiles more frequent and I became someone’s daddy for the first time.  While it’s true, that she probably stole my heart from the moment I saw her, the reality of what I was now in for – didn’t set in for a few months.  Or maybe it was years.

We won’t ever know what her 12th year of life will look like.  Won’t ever know what she would say, or do, or even be.  But I do know, that 12 years ago, even though I didn’t know it then, my life would forever be changed.  In a small room where a tiny girl held more than just my last name.  She held a piece of my heart, and she never did give it back.

Untitled

Happy Birthday, baby girl.

– Your dad