Sunday, March 22, 2009

A month has come and gone since Charlotte left. I have been told time and again that the first year is by far the hardest. Only 11 months to go.
And yet, I continue to have joy in such abundance that at times I feel guilty. Didn't I just lose a daughter? Shouldn't I be filled with such anguish that I can barely function? It is what I always expected. But life surprises me again.
Of course I cry. Of course I hold her picture against my chest, of course I stand in her doorway each night and just stare at her empty bed, of course little things hit me and break my heart--seeing a tube of her Elmo toothpaste in my overnight bag. Calling down to Zar "Call your mom and ask what time she wants the girls..." moving her monogrammed bow holder to Ella's room and telling myself the "C" stands for "Clips."
My heart will always be a little broken.
There is still
I say her name and smile and laugh, remembering.
I attribute every good thing to her--every found set of keys, miracle parking spot, good dream, I think "Thanks Charlotte!" even though she doesn't care where I park.
I see her everywhere. I seek her out. I go to church with Becky at the hospital, and the dear boy in front of us has her same knowing sly smile...and flat head. In the PICU I occasionally glance at the small space in bed 19 where she spent her last moments on earth, but it doesn't destroy me. I visit Becky's Ben there, who has soft skin like she did, and a g-tube like she did, and his big blue eyes are suddenly so full of knowing that I wonder if he sees her. And I think he does.
I am quicker to smile now, to brush aside small annoyances for what they are--small! So small! And most importantly, I don't want to waste another moment. There is too much to do, to learn, to make right to sit and be sad. There are people to talk to and babies to hold and things to be found and remembered. There are books and songs and mountain trails that want attention!
Unfortunately there is also laundry to fold and basements to organize, but even those things bring satisfaction. To be busy is key.
So even in the quiet moments before I fall asleep, when I'm tired and vulnerable and missing my nightly chores of filling the feeding bag, pulling up meds, and hooking up lines, I can thank Charlotte. Thank you for making me so much better, for giving me amazing perspective and teaching me what matters. And even though I ache for missing her, I know the morning will come.


thack said...

I'm thinking about you Erin, and of course little Chuck. Every day. I love you. Thank you for being so strong for me.

Shannon said...

You are an inspiration Erin. I love that you can take the worst situation that could ever be thrown at you and find the good, the blessings, and the joy in it. It is one of the many reasons why I love you so much.

April said...

Dear Erin,
I am a friend of Becky's and she has introduced me to you and your sweet family. I just wanted you to know how touched I have been reading through your blog and feeling the spirit of your dear Charlotte. Thank you for sharing your joyful and tender times. You are dear in my heart even though I have never met you! Thank you, too, for being an angel to Becky & Ben. Sending all my love,

Becky said...

"...and his big blue eyes are suddenly so full of knowing that I wonder if he sees her. And I think he does." Erin, I KNOW he does. You are an amazing writer! What a beautiful post.

Chris and Laura said...

My husband says that when his brother died he thought life would stop. But, of course, it didn't. He felt guilty, he should be sad all the time - shouldn't he? I'm so glad you can feel Charlotte near you, and hopefully she's telling you it's okay to move on and live life. It's been almost ten years since Chris' brother moved on and Chris still has those days when he is just sad and cries a lot, I'm sure you'll have those too. Though I never met Charlotte, I know she was a VERY special little girl, and is missed by everyone around you. My thoughts are with you!

Amanda said...

You amaze me. Every single day. You and your girls have been one of the biggest blessings in my life. I don't know how I can ever thank you. Jack was scratching his blankets last night and I thought of Boofus. I know she is in heaven helping you to be so strong.