Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Picture. A Candle. Some Angels... Another Show & Tell

As I sit in this uncomfortable limbo between the day my daughter entered this world, and that which she left it, I find myself experiencing a lot of different emotions. There have been moments recently that have left me in that place; that dark, questioning, angry, pitiful, resenting, bargaining place that came just after Peyton's death; while others have left me feeling like an outsider looking in on someone else's misfortune... surely this did not happen to my baby. Those are the worst to me, those moments of numbness. I have written before about hating the numb. It is frustrating to feel so many things, to want to express them and no longer have the energy or the emotion to release them. Usually, after an extended period of numb, comes a crash of reality, and with it, the cycle begins again.

I have been trying not to focus on what happened at this time last year. I did it for the first few days, and to be honest it just nauseated me.
At this time last year... we started chemo on our not even six pound child and watched her swell over night to eight and a half pounds.
At this time last year... I discovered a bump near her eye. A bump I was assured was nothing more than a tear duct. A bump that I was told I was overreacting to because I was "looking for things." A bump that as it turned out was a fungal infection invading my child's face and ultimately caused her death.
At this time last year... we were walking blindly into the worst few weeks of our lives. Weeks that came with surgeries on our child, countless transfusions, constant worry, the news of a tumor in her brain the size of a plum.

You see what I mean? It is hard not to go there, to the the terror of this time last year. So, in an effort to not dwell only on that, I have decided to try (see how honest I am being here... to try) to focus instead on feeling Peyton's spirit with us.

Each evening spanning the time between the moment Peyton came into our lives, and that which she left it (in the physical sense), we have been lighting a candle in our baby's honor. It is on the mantle in our living room, where we spend most of our time, and watching it glow among her picture and a few mementos that mean so much to us, brings me a sense of calm and peace. There is a warmth to the candle, to the white flame that flickers across her picture. Having that light, that warmth, that animation against the stillness of her photo makes me feel like Peyton's soul is here with us, and in feeling her presence in that little light, comes a reprieve from the dark shadows of guilt, questioning and anger. With that candle lit, our house feels a little less empty of our child.

Today, for show and tell, I am sharing with you Peyton's candle, and the significance of those things that we have chosen to put around it.

This is the first picture taken of Peyton in my arms. She was three days old when I got to hold her the first time. This picture shows my child the way she looked before chemo, before drugs, before infections. Just my beautiful child, trying to take in through bright blue eyes, the wonder of the big world around her.

Right below her picture I keep a rose from her funeral spray.

This beautiful "P" was a gift from one of her Grandma's and brought to her grave for Peyton's first birthday. My husband and I loved it so much, and didn't want the cruel Northeast weather to ruin it, so we brought it home to display near her instead.

Peyton's picture is surrounded by my collection of Willow Tree figurines. These have all been given to us at various times. The one in the back left was a gift given to me by a friend when we first got engaged called "Promise". The one in the back right means so much to me, it was a gift given to us right before Peyton was born, by friends who have blessed us with unrelenting friendship over the course of this impossible year. It is called "Our Gift." One of the little angels, the first one on the right, is from my father. He gave it to me in the early days after Peyton died. It is called "Angel of Remembrance." Ironically he picked it out for me without realizing I even had a collection of them. There is another angel, on the right in front called "Angel of Miracles." This gift was brought to my house for Peyton while she was in the hospital by a friend I have known all my life. It is the only gift, among the stacks of many unwrapped boxes in Peyton's room, that I have been able to bring myself to remove from her nursery. I am sure I am forgetting to mention where some others came from but you get it... Peyton is surrounded by the love of our amazing friends and family.

To see what others are sharing, visit Mel's show and tell.


  1. Ahh, this is beautiful. I know your heart is broken, but the ability to share this is awesome.

    I truly, truly understand the thin line that you tread, I so understand the emotions, the longing, the memories...

    This is a great tribute to your resilience as mush as it is to your lovely Peyton.

  2. That is such a beautiful tribute to Peyton. She is such a beautiful baby. Sending you hugs and prayers for peace and healing during this time.

  3. What a lovely tribute to Peyton. Gabe is sitting here with me and when he saw the picture on the right he said "The baby is happy."

  4. It is so difficult to remember our children without all the medical details getting in the way. But they were more than that. So much more. Thank you for reminding me.
    I hope you feel Peyton's spirit nearby. Her candle, her letter, her rose and figurines are all beautiful. xo

  5. Your little Peyton spot and your ritual seem so serene. I am struck by your effort to feel Peyton's spirit rather than relieve the experience. This is something I struggle with myself. I sometimes feel like Henry's spirit is buried under all the trauma of what he went through, what we went through with him. I continue to work on feeling his spirit--and sharing it rather than launching into the long saga of what happened when people ask me about him. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. What a beautiful picture of Peyton. I also love that "P".

  7. Great post! I love that the Willow tree figurine angels are looking at her picture, symbolic of angels looking after her. Thanks for sharing your home memorial for Peyton.

  8. I totally get the "at this time" list. I call it the "stations of my personal cross." I don't know if it's bad for me to do, but in a sense it keeps Jesse real to me, to walk my mind through those last months of his life. There were good moments, like when he moved back home, woven into the sad and the bad. I guess, it's not just reliving his death, it's reliving the beginning of his adult life, what little he had. So I guess I wouldn't discourage you from revisiting it. I think we're drawn to it because by walking it through, we slowly diminish its stranglehold on our hearts. A little of the pain rubs away each time. One day, maybe, we will think of those days as part of our child's life, and not of their death.

  9. Thank you for sharing the beautiful area you've made to remember Peyton in your home.

  10. I am lighting a candle right now to honor Payton and to support you.

    May her light continue to shine. And may the absence of her heat cease to burn.

    Big, big hugs.

  11. I know that numbness all too well. It is awful too. It does often feel like I am on the outside looking in. Then I "wake up" and realize this is really happening. This picture of Peyton is so precious. Your daughter is just beautiful

  12. I stumbled across your blog and I am so incredibly touched by your little angel. I had to leave a comment. As soon as the page opened, I could not hold back tears. I wish you and your family strength and blessings and comfort and peace.

  13. I was reading your comment over at Caring for Carleigh and decided to stop over. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my prayers.

  14. I love the picture of Peyton in the frame.

    I know that numb feeling. "Usually, after an extended period of numb, comes a crash of reality, and with it, the cycle begins again."...I have noticed this as well. I can feel it coming on & I try to brace myself for the upcoming storm of grief.

    I have not brought myself to get Janessa's pictures printed. I have the spot picked out for her. You may have just motivated me to do this.

  15. Peyton is beautiful. Each time I visit your blog, I say a prayer for her.


  16. What a beautiful tribute to Peyton.
    Thank you for sharing.

  17. I think you have a beautiful little place to remember sweet Peyton. The Willow Tree figurines are very nice. I think it's great that you light a candle for her.

    I can't believe they overlooked the bump on her eye calling it nothing!

  18. Gorgeous...really a tribute to your little girl. Thinking of you as you try to stay to the right of the line. It's not easy.

  19. beautiful tribute, and post. You are in my thoughts daily.

  20. What an amazing, beautiful post.

    Anniversaries are hard. I don't just mean the anniversary of her death, but also, every day now is an anniversary of some of the pain that you felt this time last year and you are re-living it.

    May you find comfort. May you find peace.

  21. such a beautiful post...

    remembering Peyton with you... your sweet, beautiful little girl

  22. Peyton is so beautiful! I love the tribute you have for her.

  23. This is so beautiful! I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm thankful that you have these wonderful things to remember her by.

    I love Willow Tree things! They're super cute!

    (I'm using this post for blogger bingo.)