I should be working on our obscene pile of laundry that desperately needs folding. Instead I've settled myself on our bed, queued up our iTunes Christmas playlist, lit a cozy candle, and I'm rustling through pictures and videos of my girl. As much as I miss Ryann desperately every moment of every day, the missing generally takes up residence in some background part of myself. It's there, but it lets me function and live and usually even thrive. But sometimes it jumps unexpectedly into the foreground and it's all I can do to keep from shattering all over again.
It's not always triggered by what I would think. I didn't cry when Jared or I held Clifton for the first time. I don't usually break at her grave. Often I'll just giggle at her pictures. But the endless round of nurses who asked about Clif's 'sister at home' after he was born. Having to tell them that she is 'deceased'. There really is no gentle way to say it. She's dead. She died. She passed. I usually opt for the more medical term of 'deceased'. Unless I can tuck in a quick 'she would have been three' and avoid anything further. Let the questioner deal with any confusion from the awkward wording.
The other day I watched Jared run down the sidewalk hand-in-hand with our friends' little 4-year-old girl and I thought 'that should be Ryann'. News stories really get to me. Stories of abused children. Abandoned children. Neglected children. Monstrous people who do monstrous things to children. And theirs are alive and ours isn't. They had healthy babies with healthy bodies and healthy DNA, and our perfect little girl had a time-bomb in her stomach. I hear parents snapping at their kids in grocery stores, friends complaining about their lack of sleep. And I get it, I really do. But I want to scream. I want to slap the impatient parents in the stores and yell 'My daughter is dead! How dare you take your kids for granted. How dare you wish you had it easier! My child died in my arms and you still have the option to hold yours.' But I know that's not fair. Plus, I don't want to be carted of to crazy-town.
Usually I try to direct myself into being grateful for what we did have. Usually it's surprisingly easy. Ryann was truly incredible. Sometimes it's incredibly hard. It's hard to focus on what we had and not obsess about what we never will. It's hard to believe that portion of our lives is past and there are only pictures and videos left to relive it.
But tonight, hearing Ryann's laugh and seeing the genesis of her squishy-face, it's enough.