Today is Vivienne’s 2nd birthday. In so many ways, I’m not really sure what to say about it. To think about what should have been breaks my heart every day, but today, it weighs heavily.
I should have a toddler wreaking havoc on my house. She should be talking and walking. Instead, the silence of her absence screams at me. We moved into a new house recently, and I didn’t have to think about little hands reaching for things they could break or would be dangerous for them. It’s a thought that crossed my mind with every object I put away. I would say to myself over and over again, it’s not supposed to be like this.
What I can’t stop thinking about is that my baby isn’t supposed to be a baby anymore. I can’t help but wonder whether she’s still a baby in heaven or if she is 2 years old. I can’t picture her as a 2 year old. I’ll only ever see her as a baby – the one and only time I got to hold her and soak in everything about her. We are “celebrating” (a word that does not fit, but there isn’t another one that does) her 2nd birthday, and yet she is and will always be a baby to us.
It adds another level of grief to our journey. We will “celebrate” these milestones for our daughter, but she will always stay a baby. On her 5th birthday, I will mourn not sending her off to kindergarten, but also try to reconcile that I cannot picture my 5 year old daughter. She will always be a baby, and each year will be a reminder that she will not grow up to match the number of candles on her cake. I’ll think about where she should be that year, but not be able to generate an image of her in my head. She’ll be a baby until the day I die.
I think of Vivienne every day, and I miss her every minute of the day. Some times, I can smile about the great privilege it is to be her Mother. And some times, she sends me signs that give me a big smile at my thoughtful and amazing daughter. But today, I feel profoundly sad about all that we are missing with her.
Missing her like this is painful to the very core of my being. And on days like today, I have to recognize that there will always be days like this. Days where her absence causes me an emotional and physical pain that I could never describe. And all I can do is tell myself to breathe, put one foot in front of the other, and hope that tomorrow will be easier. But, I live with the knowledge that even though there will be happy days, there will forever be days like today that bring me to my knees.
We do things to honor our daughter, but it’s never enough. We have decided to do a volunteer project for her birthday every year, and we ask our friends and family to do a random act of kindness in Vivienne’s memory on her birthday. While there is some comfort in knowing that good things are being done in her name, I still can’t shake the overwhelming sense of guilt. It’s never enough. Because I can never actually do anything for Vivienne, it will never be enough.
Vivienne’s birthday feels very different for me this year. I’m still sorting through how I’m feeling. I thought it would be easier this year – not easy, by any means, but easier than the first birthday – but it’s equally hard. For some of the same reasons as last year, but with some new reasons added in. But at the end of the day, it is a milestone for our daughter like it is for anyone else’s child. The difference is that it’s a milestone reminding us of what we don’t get to share with her.
I just miss her. So much that I don’t know what to do with myself.