Friday, May 31, 2013
This picture was taken on December 2nd, 2010. Five days before Bella passed away. This was the last time that she was responsive. It was the last time that she grasped for a toy. The last time she was fully awake...
There was an overcast outside. I could see the big billboard that announced Saint Jude Hospital and the need for donations. There were people walking this way and that way, heading to their destination. They had no idea that just above their head, in that Kaiser building, my daughter, my Bella, was on her very last days. We baptized Bella that day, and shortly after our families left, I took this picture of her.
Bella loved baths. And when I say love, I mean, loved baths. The minute she'd feel the first drops of water on her little head, she'd just stop whatever she had been doing and she'd just wait for bath time to begin. When the water was poured over her head for her baptism, she seemed to just relax. So after everyone left we gave her a bath, and she looked so calm and content.
Bella had a hard time grasping things, it was something we had worked on in physical therapy, but when I put that toy in front of her she reached for it. She even grabbed it and pulled on it. I know that I watched her for a little while just playing with that toy. I know that I talked to her and said things to her. But sadly, I don't remember the last moments before she fell asleep. I don't remember if I told her how much I loved her or how proud of her I was. Memories like that haunt me all the time because those are the ones I am losing, and I'm terrified.
A lot of memories are a blur. It's almost going to be two and a half years since Bella passed away. It feels like such a long time ago; at times it still doesn't feel real. Sometimes it feels like it just happened yesterday and other times I just can't understand how I've made it this far in time.
The thing is that I'm so grateful for even the tiniest of memories. I'm so grateful for all that we went through because without those experiences, Bella wouldn't have been Bella, and I wouldn't be me. I was blessed. Blessed to be a mother, and not just any mother, but Bella's mother. I was blessed to know that sweet little girl, and to love her and hold her and know that at the end of the day she'll never stop being mine. And when I dream about her I feel more alive than you could possibly imagine. The memory of her smile warms my heart in ways that are difficult to really truly explain.
And I feel so incredibly lucky. Yes, you read that right. Lucky.
No one else in the world will have the honor of being Bella's mom. No one else will ever know what it feels like to love and be loved the way that Bella and I love each other. Bella changed my world, and I couldn't possibly be more grateful.