Dear Aria: A letter to our daughter on her first birthday.

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Dear Aria,

It has been quite a year. We’ve experienced such deep sadness, and our arms have felt an emptiness far greater than we could have ever imagined. And yet, there was also joy. There were many moments when we saw pieces of you, and your legacy poured out all over this earth. Your story has reached people in so many different corners of the world. So I want you to know this, your father and I are so proud of you.

I often fear that you left this world without knowing the real story, so I think it is important to share it with you. You see, sweet girl, you were very sick. Your little lungs were so damaged, and your tiny heart was under a lot of pressure. Everyone says this happened because you had a birth defect, and I strongly disagree. I dislike anything that implies you were defective because that simply isn’t true. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. Every inch of you was a shining symbol of God’s grace. You were full of beauty, and had a personality that shined even before you were born. So I really want you to know, that this happened not because you were not enough, but simply because our world didn’t have the means to sustain the body that held your unique and perfect soul. Your life was a precious gift, and one that we are honored to have been a part of.

Today is a really special day for so many reasons. Exactly one year ago, you emerged from the womb that grew you for twenty six weeks and three days. We finally got to see your face for the very first time, and your beauty completely astounded us. We got to hold you, our sweet little girl, and shower you with kisses. You finally felt the warmth of your Daddy’s arms that I have loved all these years. You got to prove your mama wrong when you showed us you didn’t have my forehead like I had proclaimed, and instead an exact copy of your father’s. But that doesn’t surprise me much; as I had a feeling you were a Daddy’s girl through and through.

It was on this day, on year ago, that your little lungs breathed oxygen for the very first time. But that miraculous moment didn’t last nearly as long as we had hoped. So although we celebrate your life today, we also lament your passing. This is not the outcome we had hoped for, and it completely shatters our hearts. Every single cell in our bodies yearns for you, and I could never adequately explain how much we miss you.

But it is you who also calms my soul as I grieve today, because I know you would want the tears to be brief. I know this because while I carried you, every single time I would cry, you kicked your hardest, and you would not stop until my tears dried up. You told me then, and I know you are still telling me now: “It’s okay, mama.” So, I’m going to do my best to celebrate you in the way you would have wanted.

Happy first birthday, my sweet Aria girl. I hope you are enjoying the singing of angels, and are dancing alongside all our loved ones who have gone before us. Tonight, as the sky turns dark, I’ll be thinking of you, and hoping that it’s you blowing out your birthday candles.

Love,
Mom

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