Eighteen years ago today, I was still a fairly new first-grade teacher. Our class was getting ready for Christmas, and we had big plans to build our own gingerbread houses with milk cartons, graham crackers, frosting, and plenty of candy. It was going to be a wonderful day.
Eighteen years ago, I knew something wasn't right. I was secretly pregnant, but had suddenly stopped feeling the symptoms. I know when I called my doctor she thought I was just worrying because of a previous miscarriage, but that morning, my worst fears were confirmed. Just nine days later was the most difficult Christmas dinner I've ever known.
One of the most permanent, striking memories from that day is of our ride to the hospital. I spent the entire drive on our first cell phone calling my teaching assistant and parent volunteers, telling them where the milk cartons were stored and who was signed up for each station. I didn't want to think about what was happening. I didn't want the kids to miss a thing.
Eighteen years ago, we lost our first baby girl. After two deliveries with the NICU Crash team on board and another miscarriage, I thought she would be our only one. And then we got Grace.
You know, these special dates start to come and go without a mention after a few years. I doubt anyone but me remembers. And honestly? Sometimes I don't even remember until something startles me and I realize she is with me.
That's how it is today. I have been busy planning a little Christmas party for Grace and her friends. She asked for gingerbread houses, and I didn't even realize. I have been having crazy dreams about elaborate decorations and candy that I don't think anyone even makes. I've had ideas that made me sit up in bed and come write at 3:00 in the morning. She is here, looking at me through her sister's eyes, and reminding me of the beauty and magic in every single day.
So happy birthday, baby girl. I hope the gingerbread houses where you are have the best candy and never get stale. Thank you for your presence and for the mother you made me. I love you!