It always happens this way. April, that is. T.S. Eliot had it right for so many years: April is the cruelest month… And then my sister got married, and Addie was born and I was sure that it would just be better. Magically. But it’s not. Thankfully, it’s not worse, either. It’s just different.
Fifteen years. You’re still gone, Dad.
During my pregnancy I was sure that Addie would be born on the 21st, and not her due date of the 25th. I just knew that she would make the day better, but when my water broke on the 15th I could not have been more relieved. And then this babe arrived on the 17th!
I didn’t want to have to share my grieving day with my child. I wanted that day to be selfish. To cry and curl up into a ball if I wanted. To run 10 miles, or stay in bed all day. I like the 21st to be a day I can fall apart. I turn into an angst-y teenager and cry as hard as I ever have.
But then, a different plan was made. My best friend’s daughter Hadley was born.
Ashley and I didn’t meet until after the births of our girls in our RI New Moms Connection group, but as Ash introduced herself and week after week went by of new stories about our lives- we grew to see each other as sisters. We share many of the same stories, trials and tribulations of life. We’ve both lost a parent, grew up outside of Rhode Island, are married to men who work A LOT and we both love red wine and champagne! As we’ve gotten to know more about each other, there are things we don’t agree on and things we do. We call each other on our wrongs, and celebrate our rights. What struck me the most about Ashley is Hadley.
Whenever the thought of Hadley’s birthday comes up, I tear up. I’m sad our girls are getting older and I miss the groggy days of midnight feedings and remembering when I last had my cup of coffee, but more so, I’m just sad. Like I said, it doesn’t get harder as the years go by, but it doesn’t get easier. There are days that I am an independent woman- I don’t call my Mom, or text my sister or my brothers. I go about my day without intervention as Mom and Wife. Then there are days when my water heater shuts off, or the lawn needs to be mowed, or Addie claps her hands… and I want to tell my Dad. There are plumbers and my father-in-law and my Mom loves to see Addie pass each milestone. But I want to call my Dad and hear his laugh, and see his brown eyes soften as only a father’s do. I don’t just miss him for me anymore, I miss him for Addie, too.
As Ash and I drink our wine, or talk about schooling, the newest Twilight, or have an intense conversation about our dream houses, I know that she, Hadley and Evan (too!) were brought into my life to help make each year something to celebrate. For that, I am thankful to whatever higher power (or not) you believe in.
For this day, I have two letters to write…
Dear Hadley,When I first met you and your mom, you were so small and perfect. You’ve blossomed into a curious and silly little girl and I am so blessed to be your aunt.
I always thought April would have to be just pain, but you and Addie have taught me that’s not all it will be. Meeting you has brought me light on a day where there was only darkness. I’m looking forward to the many years ahead where the memories in the forefront of my mind, always stemming from 1998 are replaced with memories from each of your birthdays. The pain will always be there, I know, but you, baby girl, are my angel- sent to be in my life to help heal some of those wounds.
I wish you the happiest of days on your first birthday celebration and a lifetime of wonderful days like it. I am proud to be a part of your family and to have the opportunity to honor life on April 21st. I’ve been waiting to do so for 15 years.
Love, Aunt Chelley
I won’t take up much of your time, but I hope, somehow you already know all this.
In the past 15 years I’ve shed rivers of tears, run uncharted miles and battled my mind with each passing 21st. I cry for me. I cry for the little girl who lost her father, but this year, I cry for us. I cry for the baby girl who will never get to meet you.
I don’t regret having such an amazing man in my life- I’m thankful you are my Dad, but I wish that I’d never felt pain like this. And I wish it would stop repeating every year. I wish you were still here.
I want you to know… she’s learning how to crawl, she has your golden brown curls and she loves the color orange- a true Flyers fan. You would really fall in love with her. I wish you could just hold her. Or me.
I miss you.