Three years ago, baby girl, you left and my world crumbled. I thought, on that day, that I had hit rock bottom. I was wrong. Rock bottom came later. Months later. Possibly years later. Rock bottom came in the crying and the grieving and the depression and the PTSD. It came in the flashbacks and the never ending questioning and the anger. Rock bottom came, and it went, and through all of it you were there, your little spirit guiding me in that way you always do, and we survived.
I can't think about that day without second guessing every-single-decision that we made on your behalf. If the right decisions had been made, wouldn't you still be here?
This year feels different than the last two. The first anniversary of your death was like dying all over again. Last year I remember laying in bed with your siblings floating in my big belly, and crying until I felt I couldn't breathe. I begged them at the time to understand. I explained to them that there are tears that will always come for you. For what you went through and never got to experience and your beautiful little unlived life. This year I find myself treading water, trying with all my might to not go there, not because you aren't missed. Not because I love you any less. But because I have these two little beings here who are dependant on me. They learn everything from me, the good and the bad, and I don't want them to know at 7 months about a level of darkness that it took me 28 years to be exposed to.
I am trying to think of the right words here. The ways to tell you that I think of you constantly. You never leave my mind. My thoughts. My heart. I have your picture on the window sill in the family room, and every day, every-single-day I look at it trying to remember how you smelled, to breathe in that sweet minty smell that was you, and to recall your features. When I went through your box the other day, I was struck by how absolutely tiny your hands were. How could someone with such a huge personality have been so tiny? But you were... weren't you? Too tiny to fight such a giant's battle, but you did, and with a level of grace far beyond your years, and one that I can only strive to ever live up to.
I wish I had the strength to be an advocate for you. I see so many parents lose their children to cancer and they trudge forward honoring them by raising funds and awareness. Truth be told, when I hear about childhood cancer, I curl up inside myself. I retreat. I run scared. I feel ill, and struggle not to be flashed back there. To the helplessness. To the horrors. I was so scared Peyton. Every moment of your life I was scared. And in over my head. When you came into this world, I didn't even know how to bathe a baby, and yet I was being asked to make decisions regarding treatment plans and chemotherapy. It was too much.
If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know now, I think I would have pushed to birth you naturally. Even knowing that your little body wouldn't have survived it. I just can't help but to feel that in some way, sparing you of all of it would have been kinder. I wish you hadn't had to feel one needle stick. One test. One spinal tap. One surgery. I wish you had been spared, instead floating painlessly from this life to the next. Someday, when I leave this world and we are reunited, I hope to make this all up to you. I like to think we will be in some beautiful field somewhere, with the sun shining, the birds singing, and the clouds floating over, and I will hold you in my arms, watch the light dance across your face, and rock and rock and rock you, until we both feel whole again.
I love you.