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A Letter To My Daughter On Her Second Birthday

Dear Sadie,

Today is your second birthday. I feel great sadness and anger that you are not here with us to celebrate. That I will continue to be robbed of a lifetime of memories with you. That the memories I do have of our time together are still so clouded by the trauma that surrounds them that they continue to be largely inaccessible. Living in a post-Sadie world is hard at best. It was not that long ago that the thought of living another day was excruciatingly painful. But time has allowed me the space to begin to learn how to live again.

I can’t give you gifts today. You are not here to receive them. So instead, I want to take some time to acknowledge all the gifts you have given me. I never would have guessed that my forever-23-day-old daughter would also be my greatest teacher. Yet you are. And I want to thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to be a better human. I feel everything deeper, on both ends of the emotional spectrum. I am more empathetic. More authentic. I can sometimes allow myself to be vulnerable. I have real and meaningful interactions with total strangers all the time because of you. Yesterday we went to the nursery to pick out something to plant in the yard for you. I explained to the woman helping us that we wanted to plant something purple flowering for our daughter who had died. I shared your story and she shared the story of her niece, Jennifer, who had died of pediatric cancer when she was three. We both had tears in our eyes as we hugged. I never would have had this moment without you. Thank you for teaching me the importance of meaningful human connection. I am a better person living in a more meaningful world because of you.

You have taught me that we do not have as much control of our lives as we think. This realization has been both terrifying and freeing. When I look back I realize that I used to spend so much time worrying about and planning for things that were never within my control. Now that I don’t do as much worrying and planning, I have more space for the things I know are important.

Thank you for helping me see so clearly what is important in this life. I now make decisions with a clarity that I never had before. You reminded me that I am the architect of my own happiness and you gave me the courage to chase it. After losing you, nothing is quite as scary. At the beginning of this year, your dad and I were stressed, anxious and tired. We had sold our condo in the city and were looking in the suburbs for a new home. We quickly realized that if we wanted anything halfway decent, we would have to give up the little time we had to spend together after work to a longer commute. Even then the budget would be tight. We felt like it was a no win and we weren’t excited about it, so we made a list of the things that were important to us, threw down a map of the US, and decided to move to the city that checked all the boxes: Charlotte. Before you, moving our family across the country to a city where we didn’t have jobs or know anyone would have terrified us. We never would have taken the leap. We would have stayed the course in Chicago and not be as happy as we are in Charlotte today. Thank you for giving us the courage to chase happiness.

Thank you for these gifts that you have given me. I have no doubt that you have much more to teach me as I navigate this life. I love you, I miss you, and I am so proud to be your mom.

Happy birthday my love.

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