Staying Strong to Rememer

It is calm and quiet. I am alone with my thoughts. I’m thinking about where I was 2 years ago and how so much has changed. The end of the school year will always be a difficult time for me, but some years will be harder than others. This is one of those harder years.

I struggle to remember details at times, and sometimes I forget entire events. This is the result of trauma. It’s frustrating when something that was a strength becomes a limitation. My mind blocks out memories from before the trauma, most likely to protect me. I’m ready to break free from this safety net. I desperately need to remember.

My worst fear after losing Bella was that I would forget. I was afraid to forget her smell, the sound of her voice, things she did or said. I was so thankful that I took as many photos of her as I did, but photos couldn’t capture everything. As time goes on, my worst fears are coming true. There is no way I can possibly remember everything about her. And it’s when my memory fails me that I feel I am failing her.

But some things I will never forget. Two years ago, Hudson graduated from preschool and they had a party for the kids. Bella was there with us. She watched the kids on the inflatables in awe as she held on to a doll that belonged to the daycare. The only toy she had any attachment to at home was her stuffed Barney, so this stood out to me. I remember feeding her strawberries and her and I laughing. I remember feeling so much love for her! She was always doing something that made me laugh, and that night she tried to climb into the kiddie pool that was full of ice and drinks, and refused to take no for an answer. She had a very determined personality and did not like to obey. After the party, Hudson asked for ice cream so I took them to McDonalds. We went through the drive-through because it was easier than going inside, and although I knew Bella would make a mess, I chose not to care. She surprised me and didn’t actually make much of a mess.

It’s a strange feeling when a thought brings you so much joy and pain at the same time. I am grateful for the memories created with Bella yet I physically feel pain when I think about them. It takes strength to push through the pain to be able to enjoy these memories.

Bella would have graduated from preschool this year. We would have attended the party together. She would have had so much fun! But instead of celebrating that milestone with my daughter, I got to see photos of the event online. These painful reminders are the reality of a bereaved parent. Every milestone she misses out on, I will sit back and watch my friends’ children achieve. And I don’t believe this will get any easier with time.

Looking back at photos of that wonderful day with Bella is bittersweet. I didn’t remember was how she kept throwing her food in the garbage can, which was what we were laughing at. Bella would often throw her food on the floor, and my late dog Buddy loved Bella for this reason. That day, Bella discovered the garbage can!
Today, I am thankful for these photos to remind me of the things I would have otherwise forgotten. As much as memories may hurt, they mean more to me than the air I breathe.

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