A Birthday Wish


Madeline Claire. 

Two years ago today you made your debut into this world, and just over a year ago you departed it. In my mind there is this never ending tennis match between the few months of memories that I was allowed and the future that I had envisioned.

And as we have been approaching this significant milestone, never have I been in such distress. This is something l don’t say lightly as the past thirteen and a half months have been severe and arduous. But as the light and heat from the “bonfire” of our life’s devastation slowly burns out it has somehow brought me a little clarity. The cold and the darkness have settled around me like a blanket and the emotions flood my heart almost as fast as they spill out. In the middle of it all I know that I still love you.

I have sat here night after night trying to give an account of my feelings for you, but I can’t. It is like the pain is so intense and overwhelming that it has knocked the wind out of my words. Everything I try to write down to sum up how much I miss you and love you falls flat. It screams, “This is not worthy enough to occupy the space on the screen!” It taunts, “How foolish are you to think that you could do it justice.” It mocks, “Now you will never be able to prove how much you love her!”

I’m not sure why I feel like I have to justify how I feel about you. Maybe to clarify why the tears come so easy, explain the simultaneous joy and heartbreak that little girls bring, or understand the fear of never being able to move through this loss. Though mostly I think it is just because you didn’t get to live long enough to witness the depths of my love for you.

For all of my children that was my number one priority; even for the babies that we chose to care for while the grown ups in their lives were getting their shit together. I desperately wanted you to be confident in the security of my love. To live knowing it was impossible to be separated from that love. There was nothing that you could have done to change those facts and nothing I wouldn’t have done to make sure that you believed it.

In the wee hours of this morning I quietly snuck into your room and curled up on the rocking chair. Holding on to your blanket I wept as I sang your song. I am broken and I won’t ever be whole this side of eternity, but I love you Madeline, and I always will…

“… Who told you so dilly, dilly, who told you so?

‘Twas my own heart dilly, dilly, that told me so…”

The List


She sat down on the bathroom stool completely exhausted, watching the last of the clean and adorable bare bottoms run away. The weekend had been full of driving and activity; and now it was Sunday night and time to mentally organize her even busier week ahead. She thought through all that still needed to get done and tried to find anything to take off the list. She had contemplated removing the ‘bathing boys’ line item that night, but the afternoons activities had left them quite dirty; and with no shower that evening it would have added ‘load of linens’ to the laundry list.

The boys were clean now and had flown off to their bedroom, as their towels turned into superhero capes, to change in to pyjamas. They returned to the bathroom for some minor doctoring and toenail trimming – which in her boys’ eyes was equivalent to lite torture. And even though she had no intention of trying to extract valuable information, this particular episode of torment revealed so much of their hearts.

Her young boys had many questions about girls and girlfriends. An older boy, whom they both admired greatly, had a girlfriend; and the boys had informed their mother that they had seen the couple kissing. She smiled at this, imaging their young little minds trying to wrap themselves around this whole new idea. They wanted to know about these relationships, how to know it’s right, and the when and who of it. And as she shared her wisdom they snuggled in, right there on the bathroom floor. Their faces rapt with anticipation.

She told them about waiting until they were older and smarter . She advised them to have many friends who were boys and girls, and about taking the time to get to know lots of different people first. She warned them of girls who may not like their brother or their mother and may not want to spend time getting to know the people they love. Even of those not willing to invest in the relationships that the boys valued most. They discussed the impact of dating someone who tears you away from your family. Most notably not having anyone to play Lego with, less time to wrestle, and having a sad and lonely Mom. Shyly, the eldest boy asked about Daddies. If there was a place to find new ones if you didn’t have one.

The parts of her heart that were still whole broke in that moment, and the tears rolled down her cheeks. She wondered aloud if they had both thought about this, but the younger brother wasn’t sure. She told them that finding a Dad, like any other relationship in life, is hard work. Pointing out the obvious, that their father had been such an amazing man that it wasn’t going to be easy to ever find someone to fill that role. The boys agreed that it didn’t seem quite possible, but she gently reminded them of someone that they knew who deals in the impossible.

The boys giggled and beamed as they began to list off all the miracles that they could recall from the bible. Daniel in the lions’ den, the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the whale, feeding 5000, making the lame walk, giving sight to the blind, and rising from the dead to save humanity. They sat quietly for a moment relishing in His greatness and the smallness of their problems.

Then she promised them that she would never choose someone who didn’t love them as much as she did. That she would spend the rest of her life alone rather then have a mediocre dad.

She kissed them and told them how much she loved them, and that they would always be at the top of her list. They snuggled closer and told her that they knew.