My Daughter's Survivor
I wonder what I would be doing now if my life had gone as planned. I would be doing laundry and baking chocolate chip cookies. Right now, I would be helping Addie make a bracelet out of beads, or teaching her to braid. I should be doing all of the things that typical mothers do, yet today I'm standing in a cemetery above my own daughter's grave, covered in snow.
I often wondered what Addie would look like today. It's hard to believe that she would be eight. Would her front teeth be gone? Would she have played sports, or dress up? Would she have every fingernail painted a different color, and insist on wearing my lipstick even though she was too young? What would she have been like? Heck, I already know the answer: Addie would be perfect.
You always hear about that motherly instinct. You learn all the time of mothers lifting two thousand pound cars off their child, or women using themselves as armor to shield their children when there is a car wreck. I wanted to be that for my daughter. But when that man stole my baby, I couldn't do anything but cry.
I only turned around for a second, and boom. She was gone. Other moms would have sprung into action. Few mothers would have chased the man down and tackled him themselves. Most moms would have at least put up a fight, but I stood there in total shock. By the time I summoned the courage to even let out a scream, it was too late.
Growing up, no one really explains to you the grief of losing a child. You never fully comprehend just how painful it is until you lose one of your own. Grief is like the ocean; it swallows us whole. The further you sink in, the less likely you are to emerge again. It took three days to gain the courage to leave my home, a month to stop crying when I walked past her room, and six months before I had to sniff Addie's shirt, just to remember her smell.
They found her body three months later in Marlow Creek, about a mile out of town. My baby girl was that close to me that whole time, but I simply gave up on her. Now I blamed myself. How could I let my hope for Addie - the little girl who had the most faith in me - die? No other parent would let this happen to their child.
I used to think I was a horrible mother for letting that happen to my child. Sometimes, I think of Addie, and the way I let her down, but then I remember the way she laughed at the faces I used to make. I recall the way she would chuckle when I was scolding her, realizing that I so badly wanted to laugh too. I reminisce over all of the stories she would tell perfect strangers about magical kingdoms far away, and I remember that I made that. I created this beautiful little girl who put a smile on everyone's face. No one could have brushed back her mane of red curls like I could. No one else would know that she insists on eating her ice cream with a fork, and no one - not a single person - could have loved her near as much as I did. I remember all the things, and I know that I am an excellent mother.
I get up to leave my little angel's grave when I feel her kick. The precious baby inside me tells me that I'm right. I get a second chance.