The first year was intense.
The second felt like Groundhog's day.
The third full of anxiety and apprehension.
Next month would be her fourth birthday, so what does this fourth year without my little girl feel like?
I wonder did that happen to me? All of that? Was she ever really here? She feels so far from me some days that the distance hurts more than the memories. Did I really watch her die? Was I that woman who cried and wailed and gnashed my teeth in agony over losing her and my fertility?
Sometimes it is so hard to believe that this life, this me, is the same person who lived through that.
Sometimes my days are so busy, and exhausting, and full of squealing toddlers, and diaper changes, and milestones that I almost feel... dare I say it... normal.
I never thought I would find myself here. In this place that feels a lifetime away from that place, and while my blessings are too many to count, and I am grateful beyond belief for this new normal (or as close to normal as I will ever be) I have to wonder at what expense to her memory this is happening.
My visits to Peyton's hill are few and far between these days. Most often they are (like all attempts at accomplishing things with twin toddlers) hurried as I race to say what needs to be said, or to feel what needs to be felt, before one or both of her siblings start to cry, or fuss, or... or... or...
My Snowflakes are now 17 months old. 17 months that have gone by both at the pace of molasses and in the blink of an eye and they are truly all consuming.
They deserve all of their momma's attention... don't they?
But what about her? The littlest big sister. What about the one who came first and mewed at my chest and comes to me in the quiet time before I fall asleep?
Does she not deserve my full attention too?
There is no handbook for this. No "How-To" guide on how to be a mother here and there at once, and so my children who are here, who press for my attention and fill my day with the delights of their milestones, they get nearly all of me these days. As a result, I feel a distance from Peyton that I never could have anticipated.
Even things I want to do, like focusing on Doing Good In Her Name, just don't happen. I keep saying next week, or next month, and those timelines come and go without progress because my here and now of mothering twins, and trying to freelance for extra money every free second I have, gets busier (and more hectic) by the day.
Of course the love I have for her is no less, but that connection--the way I used to talk to her in my heart and mind all the time--it is fading.
So what does this fourth year without her feel like?
I guess I would have to say that it feels like I am losing her all over again.