Eight

On the day she would have been eight, I wonder if It was all a dream.

Did I really have two babies and lose one?

 

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The beginning:  Julianna, 2 wks. Photo by Stacy Newlin Nyikos.

 

Surely, it’s not possible, not when we wanted her so much. It didn’t really happen, right?

In my head, it’s simple. I was there for her beginning and for her end. She was here, then she was not – and I was there for all of it. It was my privilege, but also the source of my greatest pain.

 

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She was herself until the very end. On her last day, she received a unicorn and deemed it awkward…

 

My heart knows it too, but in a way that’s not easily expressed with words. Imagine the most oppressive blanket. It’s heavy enough to constrict your breath, but its weight falls just shy of crushing the life that’s left in you. It’s a continuous stream of blazing hot tears (sometimes a trickle, sometimes a torrent) or the searing pain of an open, angry wound.

Oppressive heaviness and exquisite pain: this is how my heart knows she is gone. It’s too much, and that is the source of my disbelief. When it’s this painful, a little disassociation is not a bad thing.

My heart knows something else too: if someone is a part of you, they never really leave. She’s in vivid pink sunsets and in the stories her brother tells, the ones that make us remember and laugh. She is behind every colorful item of clothing and sparkling accessory that I own. I think of her every time I see a baby, because nobody has ever loved them more. She’s in flowers, on mountaintops, and part of everything beautiful, bright and lovely — because she was everything beautiful, bright and lovely.

 

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So, on the day she would have been eight, I am blessed and bereft. I am thankful, but so sad.  I celebrate and I mourn, because her presence and absence are undeniable.

 

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Mt. Hood is the best part of the landscape here, and is visible on most days. Earlier this year, we put some of Julianna’s ashes on “Mountain Hood”