Still and always

Last year, on the first anniversary of Ara’s death, I wrote this letter to her. I shared it with her photos on Facebook, but not as a blog post. And now, here I am, 25 days away from the second anniversary of her death. I’m hoping that as the day approaches, I will be able to find new words to describe my love and my grief. But even if not… every word of last year letter is still my truth.

Still and always.

April 21, 2020

Ara Girl,

How is this possible? How can it be that an entire year has passed since we lost you? But then, how can it be that we lost you? It makes no more sense to me now than it did in that excruciating moment. A year is a blink, and a lifetime. It is impossible not to wonder what you would be doing right now if you were here. All the usual things a toddler does, I suppose. Talking a mile a minute, breaking things, running and jumping and probably driving us a little crazy… I try not to wonder too long though. It would make the sight and sound of every two year-old unbearable. Instead, my darling girl, I wonder about the person you would have grown into. I can’t shake the idea that you would have done amazing things. That the world lost out when it lost you. I mean, you had something! You radiated love and joy. Everyone who met you saw it. It was almost as if you couldn’t help it. So much light and spirit in such a tiny person only could have grown into a brightness that would have illuminated the darkness in some important way. And since we will never know for sure, that is the truth I have decided on.

There have been days, sweet girl, when all I wanted to do was sink into my grief. And some days that is what I did. Other days, I tried to harness some of your light and channel all that grief and pain into something… useful. And, incredibly, there are days- moments, anyway- when I feel joy, when I smile without feeling a tug on my mouth, a stinging behind my eyes… a wrenching in my chest. Truly, there are those days, Ara. And these moments come more often lately than I expect. I want them to come, even when I sometimes feel guilty for them. I can’t squander what you were deprived of. You are my example, my love. You taught me how to find beauty among the ugliness, joy behind the sorrow. Our family had to find them every day, didn’t we? We made happy memories eight stories up, despite wires and tubes and all the rest of it.

It is so strange to realize that the source of my greatest sorrow- my deepest, most profound grief- is also a source of great joy and promise. To have loved you, my girl, was a gift. There is a space in my heart that will always be you-shaped. No matter what comes in, it will never grow smaller, its edges will never soften. That space belongs to you, what you were, what you could have been, what you will always be.

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