It's been just over a thousand days since Peyton left this world.
Just over a thousand days since I held her in my arms that last time as the sun broke through the clouds, and cast white light across her small body.
It's been just over a thousand days...
God I miss her.
I spent the better part of the first year without Peyton being furious.
At God mostly.
It hit me tonight, as I looked at my two beautiful blessings, that it may be time to start working on toning down that fury
It may be time to start feeling Thankful rather than Spiteful when I think of Him.
It may be time, but that is a post for another day.
In that first year after Peyton's death I saw very little hope in the future and no joy in the day to day. Even to think about feeling joy felt like some sort of betrayal, and yet when people tried to remind me that living was not a betrayal, I hated them for it.
People would see me spending all day every day at her grave that first year, and they would say, "Peyton wouldn't want to see you like this" and I would think, "what the hell do you know anyway? Was your child born unexpectedly with cancer? Did your child die in your arms? Do you live with the aching arms? And the nightmares? And the daytime ones?"
I was hurting.
Everything was darkness.
Telling me that I was disappointing Peyton in my grieving just added to my fury.
To my fury, and to my guilt.
In that first year people told me I would survive.
They were right.
Every second of every minute was agony, but somehow, some way, I came through it, even if only by the skin of my teeth.
The second year without Peyton I lived on Pause.
Every day was Groundhog's day.
The sun rose.
My child was dead.
The sun set.
My child was dead.
Families around us grew.
My child was dead.
Children conceived after Peyton died had now outlived her, and yet, my child was still dead.
It is still hard for me to believe, sometimes, that I no longer live in that long gray fog that consumed the second year. At that time the world around me seemed to be moving at lightning speed, while our world, our tiny little corner of the universe, sat immobile - seemingly stuck on its axis unable to turn towards the sun.
And then, just like that, one day it did.
One day there was forward momentum, a feeling that had become so foreign a concept to me that I didn't know what to do with it.
In that moment we were afforded a new lease on life, and the blessing that this is has not been lost on me.
Peyton's third birthday is just a few mere months away, and I feel something shifting in me once again. For the first time, in a very long time, maybe ever, I find myself thinking of Peyton and smiling.
Not all the time of course, many memories of her still stir feelings of being robbed, scared, and heartbroken, but every once in a while an image of that little girl - so tiny, so brave - pops into my mind and I can see her lifting her sweet, perfectly round little head up off of my chest when we did skin to skin, and the corners of my lips turn upward in gratitude.
Yes, you read that right. Gratitude.
Peyton did something no one else in this world can ever undo.
She made me a mother, and through the aching, I can't help but to feel grateful for that.
She came into this broken world, loved me with a pure heart, and left so many gifts for me that I am still discovering them day by day.
Some have been easy to see - the friendships I have made within the BLM community. The connection I have been able to feel with my writing. The deep sense of empathy I feel for those who are hurting - and others have taken more time to fully grasp - like realizing how important it is to truly appreciate each and every day.
Even the tough days, because a tough day is just another chance to overcome something difficult, and discover something beautiful in its wake.
That little girl has enriched my world.
She has made colors crisper.
Because of Peyton I appreciate what a gift it is to wake up each morning.
Because of Peyton I can feel the wind on my cheek and know that somewhere, somehow, in some way that I am too human to understand, we are sharing that moment.
Because of Peyton I truly, TRULY, know how lucky I am to be a mother.
I know what a gift it is to be exhausted from a sleepless night with the babies.
I know not to take for granted any moments with my children, even the challenging ones like those that I have faced in breastfeeding the twins.
That's not to say I don't ever moan or groan or feel sorry for myself about this or that, because I do, I am human, but usually, a beat or two behind whatever gripe I may be airing, I stop, think of that little girl and all that she has taught me, and that quickly puts things back into perspective.
Maybe everyone goes through this?
Maybe this, this feeling that I owe it to Peyton to live the life she wasn't afforded, is just another stage of grieving.
I don't know.
What I do know is that she can't laugh, so I feel that I owe it to her to fill my life with laughter
She can't have a family of her own, so I owe it to her to love mine with all of my heart.
She can't chase her dreams, so I owe it to her to never stop believing in mine.
As the poet Sascha says, I owe it to Peyton to do all these things "for the both of us."
I miss my daughter.
Nothing will ever, nothing can ever, change that.
I still have days where the tears come calling, but something inside of me is shifting.
I am coming to see that honoring Peyton is not equivalent to spending all of my life longing only for what I can never have.
I am coming to see that it honors her memory more to embrace and rejoice in all that I do.
This post is part of the StillLife With Circle's Right Where I Am Project. I'm about a month late to the party, but hey, better late than never.