Note: I wrote this several days ago but I'm a day late in posting because I forgot to hit publish on the post and then I didn't look back into the blog yesterday.  Testament to how completely nuts I have been this year.  As early as last month, I planned on working at home yesterday to enjoy a little bit of solitude, but then I didn't really even spend that much time reflecting.  So today's letter comes the day after her 15th birthday.  It's not the first time I've let the moment almost pass me by but I think this year I'd probably gotten it out of my system a little early and then got caught up in the Have-To-Dos of every day with a job and a family.  Just goes to show you, you can't schedule feelings.

You know how life happens while you're not really paying attention?  This year, we bought and moved into a new house.  Then we still had the old house and had to sell it, but we put a whole lot of time and effort into renovating the old house first and then Stuff and Things happened and we couldn't sell the old house to the first couple of people who wanted to buy the old house and almost couldn't sell the old house to the third buyer because the county is a Big Dumb Stupidhead so we carried two mortgages for about half the year.  Oh and by the way, we moved into the new house and then had a whole lot of unplanned renovation projects and money to be put into that and unplanned travel.  It sucked.  Because Reasons!

I couldn't wait to get rid of the old albatross around my neck... er... I mean... house.  

When the sale finally did go through, we breathed a sigh of relief and didn't even care that the new owners almost immediately cut down the entire flower bed full of day lilies we spent fifteen years cultivating and coaxing to grow in that spot.  Not that they weren't allowed to do it; I just would have dug up more bulbs to take with me if I'd known.  Good luck getting anything else to grow there, New House People; it won't happen.

I believe we celebrated the house sale with pizza and a "good riddance" and let the moment go by because I'm sure some kid had a homework assignment or a music lesson or whatever.. other things were happening at the same time.

Then one day, earlier this month, I was a bit early for a rehearsal and happened to drive by the cemetery so I stopped in to see her, which I sometimes do when the moment allows.  There was a big sign near the gate that said, "If you have family or loved ones buried here, please contact the main office."

My heart fell into my stomach because... well.. I don't know why.  Not sure what the worst could actually have been in this situation but my brain went there anyway.  Everything else has gone horribly this year, why not this too?  I stopped into the office with that sense of impending dread, but it was after hours and they were closed. I called and left a trepidatious message asking what it was about and to please call me back.

They called back the next day and it turned out to be nothing, really.  The cemetery wasn't being razed to make way for a high rise.  There was no long outstanding bill that needed to be paid.  The office was just updating their records and wanted to know if we were still at the same address.  I said, no, actually we had just recently moved and I gave them our new address.  They took it, I thanked them, and that was that.  Not even a little crisis, which was a pleasant surprise.

Then I hung up the phone and realized for the first time that that is not my house any more.  

The kitchen door I was standing in when I learned I was pregnant with her is something I will probably never stand in again.

That wall I stared at for weeks on end when I was ordered to bed rest - only on my left side, I'll probably never see again. 

All those moments when I sat on the floor and sang to her and talked to her and begged her to grow so we could get to meet her are all contained within those walls and those walls don't belong to me anymore.  My last physical connection to her is kind of.. well, gone.

I totally understand why our culture buries its dead in cemeteries. They give you a physical location - a connection to a place and time that life often doesn't allow to remain because life marches merrily, mercilessly on. It's a place to direct your energies.

I knew I was being kind of literal and dumb about it, but I hung up the phone, quietly closed my office door and cried for the first time in a long time.  Maybe it's just the stress of this year.  Maybe it just blindsided me.  But this was a tough pill to swallow and it took me a couple of days to feel right again. 

I know it's been well long enough for life to feel right without her and I do, mostly. But every once in awhile, I look around.  I see my beautiful, amazing girls, growing and being pains in the ass and brilliant, being horrible to each other sometimes but also kind and wonderful others.  I see this incredible man being their father every day.  I'm so grateful for the family I have now and would never regret any of it.  Everything we went through has contributed to who and where we are now and she is so much a part of that.  Sometimes I think maybe that's why she came and what her purpose was here.  

But then sometimes I look around and I see a hole in it all.  Someone is missing.

It sneaks up on you, this grief stuff.