Oh Danielle… I don’t even know where to begin. I miss you so much. It’s taken me 16 years to build up the courage to articulate publicly how I’m feeling. So many people have asked me about you, and I always well up and shut down inside. I’m always lost for words. In denial. The thing is… my head is screaming. It goes into overdrive. It’s a hard feeling to shake.
I can’t believe it’s been 16 years since we said goodbye. It feels like just yesterday.
I was extremely excited to have a little sister. I remember begging Mom and Dad when I was much younger to give me a little sister. I just didn’t understand why it wasn’t that easy. Little did I know that they had been suffering through recurrent miscarriages. When I found out Mom was pregnant with you, I was overjoyed. I was going to have a little sister. I couldn’t wait to meet you. Little did any of us anticipate the outcome.
Mom’s water broke mid-October 1995. She tried so hard to hold on to you. She stayed in the hospital at Women’s College not giving up hope. She was placed on bedrest. She fought tooth and nail for you. On November 23 – just a month and a half before your due date – you were born. Very quickly after your birth things became a downward spiral. We should have been rejoicing in your arrival, rather we were all fighting for you to hang on. You were severely underdeveloped. You were on life support. Your digestive system wasn’t functioning properly. It was painful to see you suffering. You were so perfect. So precious. So fragile.
Dad picked me up and brought me by the hospital on the 23rd to meet you. Seeing you hooked up to all the machines freaked me out. Mom and Dad tried to reassure me that you would be okay. I couldn’t bring myself to hold you. I was terrified of hurting you. After the visit, Dad took me to school and promised me that we would go back on the 25th to visit with you.
I remember the 25th of November 1995 vividly. I woke bright and early. I was so excited to see my little sister again. I had built up the courage. I was going to hold you this time. I was going to get my picture taken with you, so I could show my friends what a proud big sister I was. I ran downstairs to get Dad and Mom. I wanted to head to the hospital ASAP. That was when they asked me to sit down. Dad was holding Mom tightly. I was sitting on the couch across from them.
Mom and Dad informed me that they had made the difficult decision to let you go. It wasn’t fair to have you living in the condition that you were. You were just shy of 3 days old when you earned your wings and flew with the angels.
I remember feeling so angry, so cheated, so hurt, so alone. I was so pissed off. I just didn’t understand. After hearing the news… I ran. I ran hard and fast. I collapsed by our mailbox and broke down. It’s all a blur. It was a nightmare. I just wanted it to be a bad dream. How can someone so little not get a fair chance at life. It was just so unfair.
Years after your passing, I felt numb. I missed you so much. I didn’t like to let people in. I was afraid of being judged.
I regret not holding you. I wish I had just sucked it up and did it during our first and only meeting.
I really started to open up about your loss around your 14th birthday. I was a new Mom. I gained a whole new perspective. I can’t even begin to fathom the pain that Mom and Dad must have felt to let you go. There is no pain greater than having to let your child spread their wings. Mom and Dad may not speak of you often, but I know they miss you a great deal. We all miss you more than words can describe.
This past Wednesday should have been your 16th birthday. It would have been a huge milestone year for you. You would have been learning to drive. On your second last year of high school. Getting ready to decide what you wanted to do with your life post-secondary. The “what-if” game has been plaguing me a lot more recently. It can really be a vicious and cruel game sometimes.
What would your personality be like?
Would you look like a spitting image of D and I?
Would you have a boyfriend?
What colour hair and eyes would you have?
What type of music would you like?
Would we have been close?
What if you held on until your due date? Would you still be here now? Would you be healthy?
There are so many things… thoughts. Cycling. I know I’ll never get my answers, but that will never stop my inquiring mind.
I carry your memory with me everywhere. When Cadence and Cameron are old enough to understand I will speak fondly of your memory to them. I’ll tell them what a beautiful strong fighter their Auntie Danielle truly was. We miss and love you so much sweetheart!