2014 was the first year since Olivia’s birth in 2012 that we have been completely without her. I never imagined having to experience so many new firsts that didn’t include one of our children.
When you find out that you are expecting a baby you are so overwhelmed with joy and anticipation. You imagine their first birthday and years of birthdays after that. You imagine Christmas traditions and family vacations. You don’t imagine that a new normal will be celebrating all of those small beauties in life without that baby that you once had in your womb.
2014 was the first year that we didn’t have Olivia for a single moment. She passed away on October 22, 2013 at just 20 months and 3 days old. That means that we had only one birthday with her. Only one Christmas. One Thanksgiving. We never had the joy of watching her crawl or walk. We never had the chance to make family traditions that included our beloved daughter.
This Christmas in 2014 was our second that we have celebrated without our daughter. And the first we celebrated with our newborn son. It was such a strange experience. To have such joy because we have this amazing new being that has joined our family and being so grateful for his presence in our lives, but at the same time knowing that we are forever missing one.
Her presence is still there. Her stocking hangs on the fireplace mantle along with the rest of the family. Our Christmas tree is decorated with butterflies in honor of her. And she is always on our minds and in our hearts. But it’s not the same. What I wouldn’t give to be able to celebrate another birthday with her. To watch her dig into her cake with such complete joy. She always had such a sweet tooth. How I miss getting to tuck her in at night and give her a kiss and say I love you. What I wouldn’t give to have all my children in the same room and to be able to hold them all in my arms and see them just be together.
Now we are just about to begin 2015. That means we will be celebrating yet another birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, you name it without a member of our family. It hurts. The pain doesn’t get easier with time, but rather dulls slightly. Be thankful this Christmas and each day for the joy of simply being with family. For the privilege of waking up to your children each day. And remember those that have had to say goodbye way too soon.
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric brain cancer research. All proceeds benefit our neuro-oncology research team at Children’s Hospital Colorado. To learn more and to make a tax-deductible donation please visit our website at www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.