In this past year I have felt Peyton's presence so many places. The flashing of our flashlight. In the shapes of clouds above her grave or the skies outside a plane window. In a "p" that seemed to appear in soap on the shower wall. In the fluttering of butterflies and the breaking of sun through a gray cloudy day. For the last year I have felt her with me at my lowest times, her soul just barely out of reach, and in feeling her there, felt hope. Hope that life would once again hold joy and peace for me. Hope that maybe this wasn't it for my child. Hope that she made it to a better place, and is at peace with what happened to her, and knows how very, very much her Mommy and Daddy miss her. Hope that the final breath, the one she struggled to draw to stay with us, did not mark the end of my child. Hope that somewhere, somehow, in a way that I am too insignificant to understand, Peyton goes on.
When I think of this past year, I can't help but be reminded of the famous poem Footprints. We all have our own Gods, our own beliefs, our own ideologies, but in looking back on this past year, on the very darkest of hours and those that felt too crushing to overcome, it was in those moments that I felt Peyton's presence come through for me the strongest, reaching out her little hand to say, "Mommy, I'm here with you. It's going to be okay. I'm okay." I could focus today on the hurt, the injustice, the anger at a life cut cruelly short, but instead today I choose to honor this, her last day of life, by remembering and feeling grateful for the many acts of love that Peyton has bestowed upon me as her mother.
I miss you baby girl. There will never be a moment in my life when your absence is not felt. There will never be a memory made, that would not have been better with you in it. Thank you for staying with me those forty two weeks, for working so hard to thrive inside of me and never letting on how sick you were. I was blessed to have that time with you, that blissfully hopeful and naive time. Regardless of the outcome, I am so grateful for it. It was the happiest of my life.
Thank you for never letting on to the pain you were in. You were so strong and brave, letting Mommy and Daddy hug and cuddle and snuggle with you through your chemo and transfusions and operations. In my life, I have never received such unguarded and selfless love, as I did from you, my child. I needed to mother you. I needed to have time with you. I am so very grateful for each second of strength that you mustered to stay with me. I will never understand the how's and why's of this, but will forever be grateful that while you were here you allowed me to love you, to nurse you, to hold you skin to skin, and to bond with you. Thank you for leaving such an incredibly deep imprint in my soul. You changed me Peyton. You changed how I view everything. To be your mother, to watch you and learn from you and your strength leaves me grateful beyond words. You, my sweet child, you were the strongest person I have ever known. Thank you for sacrificing through pain to grace me with your presence for twenty eight days. Thank you for your big personality. For your many, many expressions for me to draw upon when I want to see you in my mind. Thank you for the ways you looked at me, and for the incredible amounts of comfort you brought Daddy and me, when your appearance reassured us after receiving bad news from the doctors. Thank you for the hours on end, especially that last night of your life, when you gazed directly into my eyes. This, my child, was such a gift.
Thank you for not leaving me that day. For staying in my heart, on my mind, in my memories. Thank you for the comfort I feel in my visits to your grave, and the little special ways you show me you have never left me. Thank you for showing me what it means to truly, deeply, love. For watching over your Daddy and me and keeping us together when so many couples pull apart in grief. I am trying to push aside my anger, the trauma, my sadness and simply focus on the lessons your life has taught me - to show people how much we love them, to not take things for granted. Thank you for your patience with me, especially during the moments when I have not exhibited the same selfless grace that you did.
Most especially, my sweet child, thank you for helping me survive losing you. It has been a year without you, and I am still here. Thank you for surrounding me with the love and support of an amazing family. Thank you for affecting them in such a way that they understand my grief, my need to remember, and all that has been lost with you. Thank you for bringing such amazing friends to my side. Your short little life has meant so much to so many and rekindled lost relationships and brought great friends even closer. Thank you for giving me a voice to write as an outlet, for showing me a way to the blogs and helping me find people to connect with who truly understand. Thank you for reminding me that as isolating as child loss feels, I have never been left alone.
Thank you my Peyton, my daughter, my sweet child. You've helped me survive. You've gotten me through. I love you always.