Our daughter died more than 19 months ago. The grief is not as raw as it was in those first few hours, days and weeks. But yet it is still there. Ever present. Like a gigantic wound that never heals. Never gets better. It is just different.
In those first few moments after she passed, it was the strangest mix of emotions. I felt relief that her struggle was over. She no longer had to suffer from the brain cancer that had taken away her abilities and caused her so much pain. But I knew that never again would I have her in my life. I would no longer have the joy of her presence. I wouldn’t get to see her smile. I wouldn’t feel the warmth of her little arms wrapped around my shoulders. She was gone.
Now we are quickly approaching the 20 month mark since her death. Olivia was only 20 months and 3 days old when cancer took her. That means that very soon she will have been gone longer than she was alive. Today I don’t cry as much. But the pain is always there. I feel the pressure to be strong and to take joy in my husband and my two young sons. But her absence is always felt.
I feel it when I sit in her 6 month old little brother’s room as I nurse him to sleep. I think about the fact that this room should have been Olivia’s. It should be decorated in pink and princesses. She should have dresses and dress up clothes hanging in that closet. And the boys should be sharing the big room that is instead just Wyatt’s.
I feel it when I see my friends pictures of their little girls in dance class or having a tea party. I feel it when I see little girls at the park. I especially feel it when I see my best friend’s daughter play with Wyatt and think that Olivia should be right there with them.
I worry that our boys won’t remember her. I worry that we won’t remember her. There are so many little details of her personality that I can so easily forget if I don’t take the time to consciously think about her. She loved to run her fingers through my hair. She liked to give kisses. She knew if you put a dress on her and she wanted to stop so she could pose in the mirror. She loved to hold baby dolls. She blew raspberries when she was angry. We called them her angry-berries. She used to laugh hysterically if you told her “no” or if you sneezed. She also thought it was hilarious if it was really windy or rainy. She was silly. And sweet. And amazing. She was far too beautiful for this earth.
I long for her. I long to have her here growing up alongside her brothers. My heart aches. My heart is broken and it always will be.
Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research and programs. You can learn more and donate by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.