Thursday, June 27, 2013

Up then down

My morning routine goes a little something like this:

Feed the baby.

Put the baby on her play mat, enjoy a gummy smile or two.

Put a few toys in front of her and pop two pieces of toast into the toaster.


Fire up the iPad, crack open a Mountain Dew and read through the obituaries.

Because that's normal (the daily reading of the obituaries part).

I think we all know I bid normal adieu 15 months and 1 day ago. Read more about that hereherehere,  and here.

Today when I reached for the iPad something was different.

I picked it up and staring back at me was this beautiful picture of Addie.

Certainly this must be a sign from my sweet, little girl (because looking for signs from your child is totally normal too). We pick up pennies on the street. We pay special attention to the skies. We relish the dreams featuring our children front and center because for that half-second we can see them, hear them, touch them again. For one brief moment, they are ours.

But I didn't intend this post to be about signs.

It's more about how something as sweet and beautiful as a picture of your child can make your heart soar and crumble at the same time.

Because that picture quickly faded to this one.

And then this one.

That's when I realized the slide show was rolling through picture by picture. In chronological order.

We received the iPad as a Christmas gift in December 2011. Addie died in March 2012. For three months there's no arguing it, that iPad was basically Addie's.

And I get reminders in the form of iPad updates all the time.

Scarlett misses you.

Scarlett is Addie's virtual horse, "purchased" the week before diagnosis.

Still listening? Pandora doesn't like playing to an empty room.

The last time we listened to Pandora was in Addie's hospital room the day before she died. According to Pandora, that was 458 days ago. Thanks. Like I needed the reminder.

But this slide show, this chronological record of events that comprised the last three months of my 9-year-old's life, really, really cut deep.

Because there we were - mugging for the camera, cracking ourselves up with the distorted pictures of ourselves, and loving every minute of it.

There was Addie on the couch. Addie by the door. Addie with Bailey. Addie with my mom. Addie with Virginia. Addie with a friend - the day before I took her to the ER.

I looked at each of those last frames carefully, searching for some trace of the monster that came in and took our daughter from us.

There was nothing.

Yet I couldn't help but look beyond the goofy smiles and think about the cancer coursing through her veins, tricking her little body to turn on itself. While oncologists can't pinpoint exactly when this seemingly perfect little girl's cells began their mutation (there is no Stage I, Stage II, Stage III, Stage IV with AML), I have to think that on that afternoon - an afternoon where two girls rode their bikes to a friend's house, lounged lazily on the grass, and returned to our house to dink around on the iPad - the cancer was there.

And that makes me sick.

So while we continued on just like everyone else, enjoying unseasonably warm weather, sorting through the past year's summer clothes, and trying on Easter outfits, we were deliciously unaware that the world that turns so slowly we can't hardly feel it, was going to turn completely upside down (for us anyway).

And sad to say, the iPad is a reminder of just how far our world has tilted.

Because Addie isn't the only one whose pictures are on it.

I see Tripp and Isaac in their brand new superhero costumes, compliments of Santa Claus the same Christmas we received the iPad. Today, Isaac's Spiderman costume is literally hanging on by a thread and Tripp's Captain America costume actually fits. The pants were at least a half-foot too long in 2011, a gross reminder that time has passed and life, no matter how painful, has continued. Kids are growing up, growing out of their clothes.

I see Tripp and Isaac recording messages to Addie in the hospital; Isaac telling her he was going to get her a pretty dinosaur for her birthday, Tripp simply saying, "I love you, Addie."

I see me in the background of those recordings with a smile on my face and hope in my heart.

I remember playing those messages back to her, hoping so desperately that she would hear them and maybe, just maybe.

I realize today I don't hardly recognize the person I once was.

That person is gone and selfish as it may seem I mourn that loss too.

Don't get me wrong. The person left in her place has good days.

There are smiles. Laughs. Superheroes.

And there are days like today.

Where my heart soars and crumbles at the same time.


  1. Praying all the time for you and your husband for daily strength and constant comfort. Wish I could do more to help.

  2. My heart goes out to you. My eyes filled with tears as I read your post. God bless you and your family.

  3. AML is so wicked and evil....I hate it. I too wonder when AML started to attack my son. What did I miss? How could I NOT have noticed? It takes so much from us. I'm so so sorry that AML took your Addie.
    Shirley - mom of Dimitri

  4. You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I cried when I read this, I cried for you and I cried for me. It is so hard to lose a child. Asher would have been one coming up on July 20th and it is so hard to not have our children here.

  5. I just discovered your blog and cried my way through all the posts. I'm so sorry that Addie's not here.
    I've added your blog to the website that I've been curating in memory of my 23 year old son who was killed in May 2012.
    The site is a collection of blogs, articles, videos and other resources for bereaved parents and siblings.