My sweet Jillian,
Happy birthday, my sweet baby girl. The past four years have gone by in a flash. It feels like yesterday that Daddy and I were having a normal Saturday morning, watching my belly move and looking forward to your arrival in a few months. What happened that night and the following days (months, really) still feels like a dream. My entire life is divided into two parts: before you were born and after.
We went back to the NICU a few weeks ago for a March of Dimes event, and you were on my mind the entire time. It was difficult because the other families had their preemies with them – living, healthy, beautiful children. It was hard to understand why their babies, some born as early as you, survived and you didn’t. But at lucky as they all are, I’m lucky in that I had you, no matter how brief your stay was. None of your nurses were there that day, but so many of the other nurses remembered our family and your story.
A few times over the past several months, people have called Hannah by your name. It seems like they’re mortified and they apologize profusely, but when I tell them it’s okay and not to apologize, I mean it. It makes me so, so happy to have proof that you’re on people’s minds. One of my biggest fears after you died was that people would forget about you, and that hasn’t happened. Four years later, you’re still present in their thoughts.
Ian and Hannah manage to make every day the best day of my life. There is so much laughter in our house, sometimes it doesn’t seem like it could possibly be real. Ian, aka the Mayor, is the sweetest little boy ever. He’s obsessed with cars, but I think snuggling with me might be his next favorite thing. And then there’s Hannah. Oh, Hannah. She’s not even 9 months old and I already know I’m in trouble with this one. She spent the first few months scowling at everyone but me, but now she’s making up with it with a smile that can melt any heart. Looking at her, I feel like I get a glimpse of what you would have looked like. Sometimes when I’m watching Ian and Hannah together, I feel a pang of sadness because you’re not with them, but I know you’re still here. I can close my eyes and feel the warm, gentle weight of you on my chest. You’re still a huge part of this family, and I’m as proud of you as I am of them.
I love you, Jilly Monkey. I love you and miss you more than I know how to say.