Gifts From My Daughter

 

 I was given 444 days to prepare for the worst day of my life. Fourteen months and seventeen days of knowing, waiting, wondering and questioning. On the day my daughter was born, we were told her life would be short, and my grieving journey begun. 444 days later, it started afresh, when she took her final breath in my arms. I thought that the days I had spent dreading and imagining the moment of her leaving this earth would help me prepare, but the truth is, nothing can prepare you for the heart-wrenching, soul-crushing feeling of saying goodbye to your beloved child. Nothing can prepare you for the ache of empty arms, the silence of empty rooms or the interminable empty minutes that stretch out ahead in the future that feels filled with nothing more than absence. I often feel robbed that I spent my daughter's short life grieving. My daughter's death stole so much from me, but I am coming to learn that her life gave me so much more than her death could ever take.

When you know your child is dying, nothing else seems to matter. I was given, and gave myself, permission to focus all my love, energy and attention onto her needs. I learnt to find joy in the little things. She didn't reach any of the typical infant milestones, but I would happily sit and watch her for hours, waiting for her to look at me, give me a little smile, make a happy coo, or simply wake up. I learnt contentment. My daughter lived in her own perfect world, and our time together was slow and simple. We didn't do the things I had dreamed about doing with her, but we cuddled, listened to music, read, and cuddled some more. I learnt acceptance. My daughter taught me the perfection that is found in what the world views as broken. She was completely trusting, loving, innocent, and pure. She inspired kindness and devotion. She was everything the world needs more of. She taught me strength and determination. She fought hard at everything she did, from physical therapy, through to the seemingly simple task of breathing. Her strength buoyed me when it felt like I had nothing left to give, and it continues to keep me afloat today. She has taught me that I can survive anything. My daughter's death has left a void in my life that will never be filled, but being her mother has given me greater joy and purpose than I could ever have imagined. As cliched as it sounds, I would suffer through every minute of despair and cry every tear a hundred times over, for the infinite joy that she has brought to my life. Loving her is my life's greatest treasure, and I will carry that with me until my final breath

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