Three years

Dear Jillian,

Oh, my sweet girl. Somehow, it’s already been three years since you came into this world. Some things are different, but some things haven’t changed at all. My heart still aches for you. I still forget sometimes that you’ve already come and gone. It’s like there’s a part of my brain that just can’t process something so unbelievable.

Daddy and I are doing as well as we possibly can. We still talk about you all the time. Sometimes I wonder how it’s possible to miss someone who was here for such a short time so much, but that’s how it is. A part of us will always be missing, and I’m not sure the pain will ever be gone.

But there’s Ian. As I watch him grow, I think of you. I wonder what each milestone would have been like with you. He’s so funny, smart, adorable, loving, snuggly, stubborn, outgoing, determined, gentle, impatient, curious, independent, kind, joyful, and friendly. When I look into his almost black eyes, I wonder what you would look like now, and what qualities you would possess. He’s exactly what our hearts needed. He’s not a replacement, nobody could be, but the healing he has provided is amazing.

The other day, I was thinking about what a great big brother he’s going to be, and then it occurred to me that he would have been a great little brother, too. I burst into tears – those heaving sobs that I have only ever cried for you – and Ian said, “mama, okay?” I started sobbing harder and laughing at the same time. He’s such a sweet kid, and it hurts to know you won’t grow up together.

And your sister. Your little sister, due only 8 days after your due date. I’m excited but terrified. So terrified. Being pregnant with another girl, at the same time of year, expected in late March. There’s a part of me that’s frozen. I can’t make plans or daydream. I can’t talk about “when she’s born.” I’m so scared that it will all be taken away again. Things have been going well, and we’re taking so many precautions. But despite my brave face, I’m scared.

Having another girl is more bittersweet than I ever anticipated. It stirs up so many memories. I wonder if you would have been best friends. I hate that she won’t know you. Not too long ago, I hung your clothes in her closet. I knew that if for some reason I had to pack them up again, I couldn’t handle it, but I did it anyway. I was so sad but hopeful. As I hung each item, I remembered picturing you in it, not knowing what you would look like, but so excited for my little girl. I felt that again as I hung them for her. It won’t be the same, and I know I’ll be sad seeing someone else in your clothes, but still. I feel like we’re getting another chance.

I miss you, my monkey. There’s a pang in my heart every time I hear Ian say “key-key.” You brought Daddy and me so much joy in your short life. There are people we wouldn’t otherwise know, and I will never stop being grateful to you bringing such wonderful people into our lives.

I love you, Jillian. I love you, I love you, I love you. Happy birthday, sweet girl.