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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Galit Breen says
I just want you to know how very deeply you and yours are in my heart. Much love to all of you.
Your love and grief are so beautifully intertwined and as always beautifully expressed here. Much love to you, Jessica. Always. xoxo
Kristin @ What She Said says
Just now catching up on some blog reading, Jessica, and I’m so sorry I haven’t acknowledged the anniversary of Hadley’s death before now. What you wrote about feeling your child breathe in but not back out is so gut-wrenching on the most primal of levels, but it truly illustrates how precious the gift of life is. We all love our children, of course, but I think maybe you have a different perspective on parenthood than most. I wouldn’t wish that perspective on anyone and quite fear it for myself, but I think the fact that you’ve managed to turn sorrow into gratitude is just lovely. Much love to you during these difficult days.
My thoughts and heart are with you, your love is always so preciously expressed.
My heart is with you today, sweet Jessica. And I will do something to celebrate Hadley’s day today. Not sure what yet, but I will. Because you carry on her memory, he spirit is here–and with you–always.
Aww, thank you Charlotte, it truly means so much.
so much love to you and your family.
a thank you so strong the sky can’t help but open up and take it.
That’s right that sky took it. And you offered it so graciously.
It was yesterday…I’m so sorry.
Beautiful post. Have a wonderful Hadley day. Your post really does remind me that when I pick up the kids from school this afternoon, today’s a good day to do something special with them.
This is beautiful. Love to you.
I cannot think of the right thing to say. I guess there maybe isn’t a right thing to say. Thank you for sharing with all of us.
Varda (SquashedMom) says
Beautiful beautiful words, my friend. I know I’m a day late, but still sending a thousand hugs. Trying to appreciate every moment here, like you told me to, even when they wake up an hour too early and argue over the TV.
I have also lost a child. There are far too many of us. I hope our children are all playing together somewhere beautiful. My thoughts are with you today.
I hope they are too, it gives me comfort to think that she is not alone. I’m so sorry for your loss as well.
Hadley’s Day will be my official holiday. I will remember her, even though I’ve only heard her through your heart, and only seen a few pictures of her. I will remember.
I can’t thank you enough for this. Truly.
Sending you and your family hugs and kisses. What a beautiful post & message. Because of this post, I set aside the mundane list when we got home, and got on the ground with the kids. You sent me a great reminder today. We celebrated Hadley’s Day with you.
I couldn’t ask for more, we did lots of playing and laughing yesterday and honestly it wasn’t a sad day, just a day of showing her what she taught us. Thanks for celebrating with us.
JD @ Honest Mom says
Thank you for the reminder to live in the moment. It’s so easy to forget. Until it’s not.
Hugs and love.
My youngest daughter was born sleeping 2 1/2 years ago, 4 days before my due date.
I am learning that grief isn’t something we “get over” like some expect, but learn to cope and live with each day. I am also learning to live life one day at a time.
While I never considered myself one who took life for granted, my daughter’s death, brought new meaning to my life.
Thinking of you, sending hugs of comfort to you and your loved ones on this day, & keeping you in my prayers.
I feel the same Grace, I had never thought I took things for granted before but now I look at life totally differently. And I agree, loss is definitely not something we get over we just continue to go “through” it. At five years out I felt the loss so strongly this year and, as hard as it is, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I’m so sorry for your loss as well.
Kate F. says
Thinking of you and your entire family…
I know your pain, your loss and your heartache. I know how it feels to lose life and know the gift that we have been given to treat each moment as if it were the last. Some days a little piece of me dies knowing I have one in heaven and then, just as suddenly, I’m pulled away by my other children, by life.
Oh I know exactly what you mean, in every moment that the sadness started to take over one of my kids needed something, bringing me back to the life that we have.
You reminded me today to live in the moment.
Thinking of you and every member of your family today.
tara pohlkotte says
i sent two kisses up from wisconsin. one for hadley, one for you.
Thank you so much Tara, sending a hug back.
Catherine W says
Remembering your beautiful Hadley. You have described it so perfectly, that appreciation, so sharp that it is almost painful, for our living children.
Happy holiday dear Watson family.. And I’m sure that I felt a thank you in the sky, even at this distance. Because some things are so strong that they cannot fade or be broken. Not ever. xo
Tami Rebekah says
OH That is so sad! So sorry for your loss. Hope you have a glorious day celebrating her!
Kathy at kissing the frog says
Sending the biggest, most understanding hug from one mama to another. I love what you do to celebrate this crapiversary. We have celebrated two of Joey’s crapiveraries by having “Joey Parties.” That’s where we look at his silly pictures and tell silly Joey stories and we laugh and remember that he was always making us laugh and thinking of goofy ideas. I’m always amazed by a child’s ability to influence us so much in just a short amount of time.
Just more and more hugs to you and your family.
Ninja Mom says
It’s not something I get in the most real, having-lived-it way. I don’t think that’s posisble. You know what I mean, only people who have lived this kid of reality can truly understand.
But the gift that this piece of writing brings isn’t its ability to make someone else relive your grief, it’s in its ability to make someone whose children are all alive and well, get up and be with them. Really be with them and thank God that they have that option.
Beautiful, poignant, and I’m so very sorry it’s your reality. But incredibly happy you’ve found such joy in the living that has gone on after Hadley’s passing.
Kim at Let Me Start By Saying says
I know of hard times, and as awful as they can be, i think they helped me, too. So I’ll celebrate Hadley’s Day with you. Kisses, balloons, love, appreciation and all. xo
The Domestic Goddess says
I hugz you nao.
hollow tree ventures says
Absolutely beautiful. Thinking of you and your family, sending you hugs, thanking you and Hadley for the reminder, for the gratitude.
Jennie B says
Jess, I bought a print of that same poem after my brother’s funeral. It is wonderful and reminds me of him and all the wonderful people who left us too soon.
I know there are no words of consolation, so I will only promise to do what you have shown us all how to do: live better and appreciate every moment, even the difficult ones.
Leigh Merryday says
Lovely. I didn’t know your precious girl, but I can almost picture her with this post. Love to you on her day.
I’m thinking of you all.
Thinking of your family today, and grateful for the lessons in love that Hadley continues to teach you. *HUG*
Oh Jessica. I wish I could hug you in person, but instead I’ll appreciate that beautiful blue sunshine filled sky today and hug my teenagers both a little tighter.
Debbie Chalmers says
Hi Jessica, I too found your site via Glow in the Woods. You write so beautifully. Lots of love to you and your family xx
No words. Just hugs and love.
I know mothers carry on with life because we have to. But it takes a strong woman to do it with such grace.
julie gardner says
You know (I think) that I love everything you write.
Thank you for the invitation into the deepest parts of your heart.
I am humbled.
Corey Feldman says
I can’t even imagine the pain of the loss of a child. My mother passed the day my second child was born. We have the same tradition of sending balloons to Grammy
I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I also thank you for sharing this beautiful post and your day with me. While I can’t understand your pain, as a mother I can appreciate it. I wish you peace today.
Robin @ Farewell, Stranger says
I read this on my phone in the middle of the night last night as I nursed my newest boy and my heart just about broke wide open. Partly in sadness but a lot in awe and love. Such a beautiful way to remember.
I hugged my boy a little closer and sniffed his head a little longer last night. Thank you for always bringing us back to those moments.
Thinking of you and of Hadley today and celebrating life. See you Sunday … xo
jenni & andy says
Jessica, I just came from Glow. You are kind of a big deal. I used to read there all the time, especially when I knew I needed to cry hard. I don’t visit as often now. If you mentioned here that you’d be featured there, I missed it. And I know I’m kind of late to the game four days later. But still, congrats and good job.
Thinking of you and your family, and celebrating Hadley in all our moments over here.
Sending hugs to you guys today. In honor of Hadley’s Day, I’m now going to go and play “Talking Jungle Animal Friends” with my Gracie until her heart’s content. Thank you for sharing with us.
Devan McGuinness says
sending you lots of love today, friend. We will celebrate Hadley with you today
Your words are beautiful, your daughter is beautiful, and your message is beautiful. Thank you for choosing love and life even in the midst of sorrow. I am so grateful and I will be thinking of you and Hadley today, along with all the other mothers who have lost their little ones.
I could not agree with you more – there is nothing which makes you appreciate life more than the death of your child. (I will confess that I do question why we had to have these lesson twice. I clearly got the message after Jake died. I wonder if there is another lesson to be learned when a 2nd child dies? Or did our Sawyer die because we were not appreciating life and the moments enough?).
We will be celebrating Hadley’s Day here in Atlanta. Sending hugs, hope and wishes for the best Hadley’s day possible.
We will be celebrating Hadley today! I’ll be thinking of you today!
Thank you so much, I appreciate your support more than I can put into words.
I have written a comment, erased it, and written another, only to know that there really is nothing that would possibly do your thoughts justice, I love you. I will celebrate her today too and be more mindful of the moments.