“You Are In Love”

Happy five month birthday, Eleanora James.

Nine months of making you, five months now of missing you.

You’ve been gone half as long as you were here, and I still can hardly believe it.

In those nine months, I didn’t picture these five. Not once. Instead, I pictured the day you had your first laugh, the day you took your first steps, the day you first went to school, the day you came home crying and we got to comfort you, the day you got your license, the day you graduated high school, the day you fell in love for the first time, and the days when you might raise your own children.

I never once pictured your life as words on a chalkboard, being whisked away from me with a single swipe.

People always say that our lives are marked by two periods (our birth and death dates), separated with a dash in between. The dash represents all the years of our lives. You life is not marked that way. Your life is marked by a single dot. One small blip. Your headstone will only have one date on it. But I am trying every single day to make sure that you are treated as if you had a dash in between, and I will never quit. We want you to be remembered.

As much as I hate that you’re gone—and I do. I (pardon my French) fucking hate it more than anything else in the world—I can’t change it. I can’t bring you back to see what your eyes would look like if they were open. I can’t ever hear you tell me you love me, not once. I can’t even hear you tell me you hate me when you get to be a teenager. It is twisted, the things I miss.

In my sleep, I wrestle with all of this. I bargain with God to just let me have one more day with you. To just let me hear your laugh. To see your smile. To hold your hand. Just once. But I know that would never be enough. I would always have to give you back.

Your Papa said the other day, “Isn’t it amazing to think how many people are at Jesus’s birthday party every year?”

My response to this was, “Isn’t it amazing to think that Jesus is at every one of Eleanora’s?”

I hope He puts a party hat over your tiny curls today. I hope that everyone gathers around a table adorned with eucalyptus to eat spaghetti and drink strawberry lemonade. (Do they have all of that in Heaven? If not, let me know, and I’ll write a letter to management on your behalf.)

We miss you more than words can ever say, but we choose to celebrate each of your milestones, even through the tears.

A dear friend, your bff Hadleigh’s mama, said the other night that November 10th will mark “five months of Eleanora.” I had been phrasing it in my mind as “five months without Eleanora.” She’s right of course.

It isn’t five months “with” you because you are there and we are here. But it is certainly five months “of” you. Five months of loving you, of celebrating you, of remembering you, of looking for you in signs, of wearing you on my sleeve, of keeping your name on my lips and on my Starbucks cup. (Your dad says I’m going way too often. I disagree, and I know you’re on my side on that one.) Five months of living and breathing YOU, my dear.

I just came inside from taking some pictures for your five-month birthday. You’re supposed to be here, giggling on the beautiful pink blanket that Kathi got you. You’re supposed to be lying next to the five-month spot. These pictures are supposed to be of YOU, my dear.

But since you can’t be here, I took some pictures of the trees outside. They’re beautiful today. The leaves are falling, and they’ve all turned this vibrant yellow. They remind me of your roses. The sun is shining, too, just like it did the morning after the world broke.

When I walked inside, I started thinking about how best to celebrate you today. I thought about playing your favorite song. I haven’t been able to listen to it since you died, and I haven’t been able to figure out why. I know part of it is simply that it’s your favorite, and hearing it would remind me of how you used to dance and wiggle every time it played. But I knew it was something else, too. Five months of not knowing why.

It finally hit me. It’s the lyrics:

“You can hear in the silence
You can feel it on the way home
You can see it with the lights out
You are in love, true love.”

I think they were always a message from you. I really believe that, all those times you wiggled along to that song, you were promising me that we’d always be able to feel your love once you were gone—even in the silence of our home that should be filled with noises of you, even on the way home from the hospital the day our world shattered, even with the lights out in your empty nursery.

We are so, so, so in love with you, Eleanora girl. I hope you know we always will be.

Happy five-month birthday, my precious girl.

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