Today is May 7th, which means that the due date for my only biological child was one year ago, and my only (very soon, hopefully) forever child turned 14 months yesterday.
I didn’t make any plans to visit the cemetery, but when I went to the grocery store there was a large display of arrangements meant to accompany grave sites. I got one, and so I ended up going to the cemetery today, after all. Seems it was meant to be.
My 14-month-old is such a good girl about 80% of the time. She gives fabulous kisses, sleeps well, eats well (maybe 75% of the time), and outsmarts me in some way every day. Her only consistent words are “ball”, “uh-oh”, and “Bob!” (which means Mom, when she wants my attention). She also can spot any image of a dog, or any actual dog, within a mile, and she then begins to bark accordingly. She couldn’t be happier than when she is outside exploring, riding on her little push car, or cleaning something with a wipe (I guess she thinks I actually enjoy doing that, and imitates me). The girl loves for me to hold her, and falls asleep next to me every night (but always falls asleep in her crib for naps). She breaks out into a funky, twisty dance when she hears the Game of Thrones theme song. Pretty awesome kid!
Today she is the proud owner of a toddler bed, but at least until she’s two I think it will be mostly for looks. Once she can climb out of the crib (which is in my room), we will begin the transition. We also now have a potty chair, for that other big transition.
Somewhere out there, in the place where worlds diverge, and one path veers off dramatically from another… my other little girl would’ve been one year old sometime close to today. She would’ve shared her birthday with her cousin Audrey. Other than that, I have no idea what she would be like. Still, I wonder. I know what it’s like to plan and celebrate a first birthday for a beloved daughter… I just did that in March. I know what one-year-olds do, and need. It’s not the experiences that I have to miss; just the girl herself.
And so, one daughter is here, and one daughter is not. But unlike last year, it’s ok. I’m ok with it. Oh, it hurts. It is still a deep, dark well of sadness. It is the ashes of so many dreams and hopes. It is the ruins of a former broken heart. But I’m ok because I have a new heart, one that is full to bursting with love for this other daughter. This daughter who fills me with endless new dreams and hopes, and fulfills them. The well of sadness exists next to a river of joy.
And that is life.