That being said, without her here, I honestly feel that the trip was the choice that was best for us. Canaan Valley is peaceful, beautiful, and definitely quiet during the summer. Guess that's what we get for going to a ski town in the summer...but I think its what we needed. We spent most of our time exploring Blackwater Falls State Park. On a cliff, high above the Blackwater River, we wrote her name. Simple, yet poignant. We sat on that cliff for quite a while, just the 2 of us. Never said a word, although I'm sure each of us knows exactly what the other was thinking. Together, we created her, together we said goodbye to her, together we love her, together we miss her and together we celebrated her. Here are a few pictures:
|Thank you for the gorgeous visitor!|
|Daddy writing your name high above the Blackwater River on your birthday.|
I wish I could share all the pictures of butterflies, candles and balloons I got but there are way too many. I am so overwhelmed by the love...to know that she is remembered means the world to me. Here is a picture I never expected to get though:
My friend, Cindy contacted the owner of this image, Priscilla Vecchio Photography. She told Priscilla my story who in turn agreed to send Cindy copies of this image to give to me. On top of that, Priscilla has named this image after Addie. Talk about being flabbergasted. But I absolutely love it! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!!!
I'm so sorry this is late. I have tried so many times to write you this letter. There is so much I want to say to you and I just haven't found the right words to say it. So, I've given up. This letter will probably be all over the place, not organized in any way whatsoever. But, oh well...
I miss you little girl. I dream of you almost every day now, especially in the days since your birthday. I have to tell you that I feel guilty about your birthday. You deserved more and I'm sorry I couldn't do it. I'll probably regret that for the rest of my life...but it's just another notch on the list of regrets I have about you. No, I DON'T regret you, please don't ever think that. It's what I DIDN'T do that I regret. My 2 biggest regrets are not spending enough time with you after you were born and not getting more pictures. I really wish I had gotten a picture of all 3 of us, our first family photo. I will never forgive myself for that. I won't make excuses...just know that I am sorry. But that's not what this letter is about! See, I'm already rambling...
This past year...wow. Yes, your death shaped me but it is your life that changed me for the better. It is for that simple reason that your death will NEVER overshadow your life. Before that day in January 2010, my life was rushed. I took so much for granted, including your Daddy. After I found out you would be gracing our lives, so much changed. I stopped smoking (and haven't looked back, no matter how much I wanted one after you died), started eating better, even became more active. My life is better because you were in it. Plain and simple. I have learned so much from your short life. I've learned what it is to love unconditionally. I've learned how to adapt and survive. I've learned the true meaning of generosity. I take time to enjoy the little things. I rarely put my camera down anymore, it goes almost everywhere with me. I capture life as it happens, afraid of missing opportunities, like I did with you (I'm so sorry!!!).
During the darkest of days, I often wondered how I could continue to live when you weren't here with me. I do still blame myself sometimes. I wish I would have insisted that something was wrong when you stopped moving as often. I wish I would've gone into labor early. I wish the doctors would've pressed this issue when they found the original antigens in my blood. I play the what if game all the time. It's hard not to...seriously. Even when I'm in a good mood, those little questions creep into my mind. What if I had eaten better? What if I had called the doctor sooner or gone to the hospital sooner? What if...what if...what if?
This isn't the first letter I've written to you, but you know that don't you. Sometimes I think I'm crazy to write to you...but it makes me feel a little closer to you. I wrote one recently as a part of my photography class, Illuminate. Here's a little bit of it:
"I put my camera down after you died. The love I had for photography was gone; the passion I had for life died when Dr. Willey said, “I see no cardiac activity.” Despite the blur I was in for the next few weeks, those are words I will never forget. I don’t recall a lot from that time, only that I spent a good bit of my life sleeping and crying. I thank my lucky stars every day for your Daddy. He never left my side, keeping me busy, gently prodding me to venture out into the world. I don’t know how he put up with me, but I will be forever grateful. He kept me sane at a point in my life when I could have easily lost it all.
I remember the exact day I once again picked up my camera. It was September 25, the day of your memorial service and nearly a month since we last saw you. My eyes opened to a new life that day; a life without you, yet a life with purpose....That day really did open up a whole new world for me. My grief is still there, but it is different somehow. My grief fuels my creativity.... I knew I wanted to plant a garden for you and add a few more personal touches to the house as a way to connect with you. Still, the want, no the NEED to do something more, do some good in her names was strong. I wanted to do something that would benefit families like ours; families that leave the hospital empty-handed and broken-hearted; members of the baby lost community. Out of the fire came On Her Wings. In your honor and memory we have raised over $700 for the March of Dimes as well as teaming up with other mommas like me to help raise money for funeral/burial costs when a child dies. And, on your first birthday, we will be donating 10 memory kits to the hospital where you were born. This is exactly what I wanted to do…I want to keep your memory alive, to make sure you make your mark on the world (no matter how big or small). Do you see what you’ve inspired, little girl? Do you see what your little life meant (means) to me and what it will mean to so many others?
As I sit here writing you this letter I’ve come to realize that your story and your legacy are one in the same. A work in progress for which I am the author. I will write the story of you, Addison Breann. The world will remember your name, I promise."
I did donate those memory boxes. And, a whole lot more. I have agreed to work hand in hand with the hospital in helping the L&D staff better understand how to handle the grief after losing a baby. This is how I'm surviving. Would I be doing all of this if you were still here? Probably not. I never would have know that the need existed...but now I do. And, it's because of you; your life and your death have become the biggest influence on my life, although I don't know whether to be grateful for it. Obviously I'm grateful that you were here, but it's hard to be grateful for your death.
Have I told you lately how much I love and miss you?! Because I do....
I haven't gone in your room for awhile now. I still have a hard time facing the fact that you aren't here. During Illuminate, I went in there to take some photographs and was shocked by the enormous grief that hit me when I opened your box. I pulled out your coming home outfit, your first sonogram picture and the dress you were wearing when I first held you and cried...after 11 months, I didn't expect it to hit me so hard. A box of memories to hold instead of you.
A year...so hard to believe its been a year. I can't say it's been all bad, but it's been rough. Time hasn't healed me, but time has made missing you a little easier. I just wish I had the chance to know you, to meet you just once...I wonder what you would look like? Would you be walking now? Would you be talking? It sucks that I have to miss out on all of this. I had so many plans for you...now I wonder if I'll ever get the chance....Rainbows seem so far away. I can't help but feel disappointed. I always thought failure was not an option, but I'm seeing it now more than ever.
Thank you for all the butterflies little one. I've never seen so many monarchs in my life! I think of you every time.
I wish I had the strength to give you the birthday party you deserved. I had elaborate plans...butterfly shaped cupcakes, lots of good food, lots of great people. Your life deserved such an honor. I'm so sorry I couldn't go through with it.
I love you and I miss you so much. My life will never be complete if you're not here. Keep that piece of my heart safe...I will carry yours with me forever.