Five years ago today was the worst day of my life.
As much as I would like to crawl back in time and change the before, shift the outcome, continue the whirlwind of caring for three babies at once, never hear the sounds of my husband’s grief or answer the most heartbreaking of questions from my children, I would not change the after.
In the moments quiet enough for a conversation from my heart to my daughter’s, I tell her how deeply I miss her, how much I wish she were here, twirling in dresses and sassing me at bedtime, and I thank her.
I thank her for making me the mother I am, the person I have become.
When she left this world she pressed a deep gratitude for every breathing moment into my empty arms. I thought I fully understood the gift of life before but I didn’t, not until it was taken away. To feel your child breathe in one moment and not out the next is petrifying and gut-wrenching and heart-opening. I have never looked at my children the same again. Each day they wake up is a gift, every smile, whine, giggle, tantrum, the whole mess of it… the most fragile package I could have ever been handed.
There are days of tears as we get close to this day, but the very anniversary? We spend it quiet and loud and running and still and together remembering all. day. long. “Hadley’s Day” is our own little Watson national holiday and we send it off with balloons and lanterns and kisses to the clouds and a thank you so strong the sky can’t help but open up and take it.
I know you didn’t get an invitation but you are welcome. Go remember how to play hopscotch or change Barbie’s outfit one billion times or build the most climb-worthy fort your kids have ever seen or have dessert with your morning coffee and just smile at the day…
because you have it to live.
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