Monday, September 26, 2011

What Might Have Been

This weekend we were back at David's grandparents, and this time his aunt was there with her two kids.  Her daughter is three and a half, and she was my best buddy.

Everywhere I went, Taylyn was close behind me.  When we went to a little fall festival downtown, Taylyn only wanted to hold my hand.

When I brushed my hair in the morning, Taylyn wanted me to brush her hair, and "bread it" (put it in French braids).

When I carried my laptop and text book to the dining room table, she wanted to help.  I said that these things were too heavy for her and she said, "I can help carry your pen!"  So she carried my pen to the table.

If I left the room when she was distracted, playing with David or with her brother, I could hear her saying, "Where's Auntie Brooke?" and looking for me the moment she realized I was gone.

She shared her princess stickers with me and let me be Belle while she was Snow White.

When I read my book (the Aeneid - for class on Monday), Taylyn read her book (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom).  When she finished Chicka Chicka Boom Boom before I finished the Aeneid (go figure), she asked me if she could turn the pages for me!

She'd snuggle up next to me on the couch and say, "Auntie Brooke, I really love you.  That's why I'm not shy this time!"

I can't pretend that it wasn't a little exhausting, or that she doesn't shriek like a freaking banshee on occasion, but I still loved playing with her and listening to the funny things she'd say.  She was infatuated with Cooper and afraid of Little Mac (as she should be) and she kept calling Mac "that ornery dog."

When David and I were getting ready to walk the dogs on Sunday morning, of course Taylyn wanted to come with us.  She ran downstairs to get her jacket and David remarked to me, "Taylyn sure does love you."  I nodded, and then I just burst into tears, standing in the kitchen holding the dog leash.

David put his arms around me while I cried, "She's so cute!  She just makes me miss our little girl so much.  I just want OUR baby girl."

(I managed to pull myself together and wipe the snot off David's shirt before Taylyn got back upstairs with her jacket and tennis shoes.)

I just don't know how this part will ever get easier--this letting go of everything that might have been, everything I hoped and wanted for Eliza.  She'll never be a chubby baby crawling across the living room, a laughing toddler on unsteady feet, a wide-eyed three-year-old with two French braids.  I have to let go of all these moments that never happened, that are never going to happen.  And every time I have to confront that reality, it breaks my heart all over again.

I spent the weekend living breath to breath, trying to enjoy playing "I spy" and "Hide the Thimble" with Taylyn, even while my heart felt so heavy and my throat was thick with the sadness of missing Eliza.  It was exhausting.  It brings me to tears again even as I type this.

Of course I miss my baby girl.  But the thing is, I also miss three-year-old Eliza.  I miss Eliza starting kindergarten.  Learning to read.  Joining Girl Scouts.  Playing soft ball (or not playing, if she took after me...).  Learning to swim.  Taking gymnastics.  Doing homework.  Playing a musical instrument.  Begging for her own cell phone.  I miss her as a baby, but I also, already, really miss her all grown up.

All these things that will never happen, all these moments we'll never have with her.  I am her mom, and I have to miss her entire life.

Oh, you guys.  I miss my baby.  And I miss everything she might have been.


  1. i don't think that longing ever gets easier or goes away. how could it? we miss and love our babies terribly and like you so eloquently said, we miss everything they would have been. everything. and we always will.

    it made me tear up to hear about ms. taylyn. she sounds like a doll. and she made me miss Eliza more, and Julius. and i'm just so impressed that she knows the word "ornery." i think i just learned that one a few yrs ago myself.

    sending you lots of love...

  2. I'm still thinking about my son only as a baby. But you're right, we will go through our whole lives missing them and what should have been.

    So sorry, sending a hug.

  3. This post resonates so much. You are an excellent Auntie, and my heart goes out to you, thinking of your little three-year-old shadow and of how much bitter there is in your sweet right now.

    I'm so sorry that you don't get to know Eliza as she grows up. I know she would have been an amazing chubby baby, and a fun toddler, and a beautiful person. That's still the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around - that so much was lost.

    Sending love.

  4. That would have been hard for me too.

    I think the "might have beens" are kind of like the "what ifs" (what if I had done this differently, what if we had tried that, what if...) and VERY gradually, over time, you start letting it go a bit...if nothing else out of sheer survival. I focus more now on "what is" and TRY not to dwell too much on what if and what should be. Just like I finally had to stop counting how many weeks pregnant I should have been.

    That is not to say it doesn't still smack me in the face from time to time. And especially as Lucas reaches a new milestone, I usually tend to wonder about Olivia, but I think it does *kinda* get easier to deal with. Probably not in that first year, though. And definitely not while going through the emotions (and hormones) of TTC.

    You are a great mom, Brooke, and I really really wish you could have done all of those things with Eliza.


  5. Oh, this made me cry. I am so, so sorry.

    On a totally unrelated note, I love the Aeneid and haven't read it since high school Latin class. I know I still have the English version I used to "help" my own translation somewhere-- thanks for the reminder. I remember that we all thought the scene with Dido and Aeneas in the cave was hilarious.

  6. I don't think we will ever not wonder about what might have been. We missed out on so much with them and will continue to miss out with them.
    Taylyn sounds like a sweetie though, must be even harder since she's a little girl. I'm sorry Brooke:(

  7. Oh man, I totally get those moments all the time. The I really miss everything about who and what my daughter woulda/coulda/shoulda been. I see her in other children much older than she would actually be. I think about what she would look like and what kind of funny she would be. I think about how she would interact with her brother and how they would look the same. I think of father daughter dances she will never attend. I think of days at the beach, hiking, reading books, bed time and brushing teeth. I think of stroking her long blond hair. The hair that would have grown on her head. I understand the missing and how we just want what is rightfully ours. I wish Eliza and Camille were both here. They should be. The "I love you"s from a sweet little girl surely pulls on every heart string and pushes every trigger button possible. Hugs to you.

  8. This brought me to tears reading it, I don't doubt it brought you to tears writing it. I'm sorry your time with her was bittersweet.

  9. I still get those moments. Sigh. It's not fair AT ALL and frankly, still pisses me off 3 years on. So sorry your Eliza isn't here, where she belongs.

  10. My eyes are teary and my throat is all thick and chokey after reading this post. I know exactly how you felt when you just crumbled with David. Heartbreaking is the only word to describe it.
    I am so sorry Brookester. I just don't know what else to say. Eliza should be here with you. That's all there is to it.
    Sending love and a big fat hug.

  11. I think this aspect of our losses is one of the hardest. The fact that we miss EVERYTHING. It's just overwhelming, so incredibly daunting, and when I think about it I can't even begin to process it...I just sob hysterically and feel like I'm losing my mind. So I try to not think about it. Which is probably bad, but I don't know HOW to think about it and deal. I just don't. ~Lindsay

  12. Today I cried lots of tears for us both...I had a similar feeling after working with a little helper after school (a kindergarten boy determined to help whether I wanted him to or not). When I came home and read your post it so nicely summed up what I was thinking.

    A giant hug is sent to you over the internet!

  13. I was at a friend's wedding this weekend. Her mom lost her first daughter 33 or so years ago. And we had a nice little cry about what should have been (she was sending her love to sarahlu).

    Thinking of you.

  14. I love you. And I certainly love Eliza.

    I know just what you mean about missing not only who they were when they died, but all the promise of who they might have been, had they lived.

    I will always wonder just how mischievous Jack would have been... how many bones he might have broken, and how many hearts, too.

    Another beautiful post friend.

  15. Oh honey I know. It is such a sideways world we seem to inhabit these days. I don't think the missing will ever go away.. no matter what the future holds for us. In a way missing them is the way- the only way- we actually parent them. We can;t hold and nurture their physical and emotional growth so we cling to these moments where we imagine what could have been for their brilliant lives.
    I'm sorry mamma... for all of us.

  16. "I am her mom, and I have to miss her entire life." Yup, that right there is the damned hardest thing ever. I don't know how to get past it, around it, over it, anything. It is and it hurts so freaking much. I admire you so much for putting yourself out there and being the best auntie ever. That used to be me, but now I go into a coma whenever the kiddos are around. I want to be the best damn mom in the world, not auntie. I don't want to be reminded of all the things that should have been. *sigh* Love to you my friend and carrying Eliza in my heart~

  17. I was having one of "those days" on Saturday. I miss my boy so much. It never goes away. I am so sorry for your loss.

  18. What three year old knows the word ornery?! I'm sure your Eliza would have had some freakishly impressive vocabulary herself just as I'm sure all future baby Duckings will have :)

    This was beautiful though - a true testament of your love for that little girl.

  19. I so get this. I can remember being at the wedding of dh's cousin's daughter a few years ago -- the first cousin of Katie's generation to be married. It hit me full force that day, that I would never see my daughter walk down the aisle or dance with her father. It was a lovely wedding, & probably the one I have least enjoyed in many years.

  20. We miss her with you. This post really hit home with me, given my baby girl would be three. Just. Can't. Imagine.

  21. I clicked on your link from another blog. My heart breaks for you. How unfair this world is where we have to keep on going without them. Your words make me hurt for you. I am so sorry that your baby girl is not with you.