Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hannah and the Legacy She Left Behind

My sweet girl,

Just after midnight, fourteen years ago today, I lost you.

Everyone else was sleeping. I curled up on the bathroom floor and cried until I ran out of tears.

I wonder who came up with that term originally, anyway. I wonder who decided that the way we should refer to dead babies was as lost, and not just that they were lost but that we, their mothers, lost them.

The word connotes something else, as though losing a baby is something transient that might be fixed someday. That if I tried hard enough, maybe someday I could find you. That perhaps I had done something wrong, I made some error, some miscalculation, that I neglected to do all that I could to keep you here, to keep you safe.

I did everything I could.

I wanted you with every ounce of my being.

It didn't matter, because it wasn't up to me. Nothing I could have done would have let you stay.

I wonder all the time what you might be like if you were here. I wonder if you'd have the same eyes I do, blue with hazel in the center, or if they'd be the crystal clear blue of your father's.

I wonder if your hair would be thick and wavy or straight and fine. I wonder would your skin be olive like mine or fairer like his.

I wonder if you would love to draw and paint like your brothers do or if you would sing and listen to music the way your sisters love to.

I wonder if you would be cautious and intentioned. Would you hesitate, or would you close your eyes and jump in with both feet? Would you have clutched my leg around other people, would you have reached for my hand or would you have craved the connections of others?

I wonder who you would confide in, who your friends might be. I wonder if you would snuggle up next to me or be a daddy's girl.

I wonder what your laugh would sound like, how the tone and pitch of your voice would be.

You would be thirteen and a half years old now and we would have just picked out your high school. You'd be navigating your way through adolescence and we would be doing it with you, unsure of it all together.

Instead, here I am and here you aren't. Instead of what should have been, I am writing a letter to you, the child that I never knew.

This is the hardest part about this kind of grief, the wondering. The not knowing. The always asking questions that can never be answered. It's also the most amazing part of it, though it took me years to understand. You'll always be new and fresh and full of wonder and possibilities. You hold so many of my dreams within you. Dreams that can never come true, but will always live on.

The pendant I wear every year on this day, in her memory.
They ask about you sometimes, your siblings. I never know quite what to say. They know that before they came, you were here and then you weren't. They know that I was a mother before I was. I can tell them what your name would have been, I can tell them when you should have been born, but I can't tell them anything else about you because I never got the chance to know myself.

Though I never held you in my arms, though I never was able to drink in the delicious smell of your head, though I never traced the outline of your brow as you slept, though I never walked you to your first day of preschool or caught a glimpse of you dancing in the hallway, you are a part of me forever and for always.

You taught me so much even if the lessons weren't ones you were here to see me learn.

You taught me that I was wrong about what I thought I wanted in life.

You taught me about unconditional love the second I knew you.

You taught me that I could overcome grief.

You taught me to cherish every single second of being pregnant.

You taught me to never take anything for granted.

You taught me to love with my whole heart today because we never know what tomorrow will hold.

You taught me to be brave enough to share your story, our story.

Without you, without having you with me for the time that I did, without your light dimming far too early, I wouldn't have the children that are with me today. You made them possible.

Thank you, from the depths of my soul. Thank you.

I love you, sweet girl.



Last year on this day, I wrote Hannah's story. You can read it here if you are interested. 

Sharing her story connected me with other women who lost children, and together, we wrote a book about those losses so that others out there won't feel as alone as we did.

In honor of the legacy my little girl left behind, I am giving away one copy of the book, which I will inscribe for the winner. If there is a chance that this book can help someone you know, please refer them to this page. The raffle entry will close in one week and the results will be announced here.

A mother's love, it knows no end. It begins with a dream, with a silent wish, and it never ever ends.

To the mothers out there, whether you hold your children in your arms, in your memories, or only in your dreams, my love.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hugs on this day especially Kelly, as you remember your precious Hannah! xoxo

  2. After several losses, I thought the grief would just swallow me up. All these years later and i still miss my babies.Thank you for a chance to read your words. Hannah is a beautiful name.

  3. So much hurt for you and Hannah. Thank you for sharing this, and for doing so much for Sunshine After the Storm.

  4. (((Hugs))) mama, from another mom who sadly understands.

  5. I have no words, Kelly, no words but my tears. Big big hugs to you, sweet lady.

  6. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Beautiful girl…


  7. What a beautiful story. To win the book would be great . . . but if I don't I plan to buy it for my son's mother-in-law. She lost her son, Nick, one year ago this month. He was 21 years old and was killed on his motorcycle. She is having a very difficult time handling the grief and your book may help give her some peace.


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