There are certain pivotal moments in this life.
For me, one of those was the night I messaged you over Facebook shortly after my daughter was born, desperately seeking out someone who could understand what I was going through. It was late, and of course I was crying. I was seated in the brown armchair in my living room, struggling to entice a screaming newborn to settle enough to latch while my fiancé slept peacefully in our bedroom. I was full of rage and despair.
I knew you had had your baby on the same day as ours. That’s all I knew, aside from the few details of your life you shared with me a month earlier when I had taken your maternity photos on the beach, our babies bouncing around in our bellies, probably somehow already knowing they had met their future best friends.
You were almost 10 years younger than me, but decades wiser. You had this parenting thing down to a science in just the few weeks that had passed since we left the hospital. You were a breastfeeding pro, but never judged me for struggling through and eventually switching to formula.
And so our unlikely friendship began, with you always giving me more than I could ever return to you. Support, cookies, hugs, tips, baby clothes and books. You were loving, generous, and exactly what I needed as a new mother.
I don’t know if I ever had the chance to tell you that you saved me in those early days. Truly. Our walks, our mom group dates, our late night chats, our mutual frustrations: they taught me that I wasn’t alone.
Each year, we perused Pinterest boards and shared gift ideas well in advance of our girls’ birthdays. We carefully planned each aspect of each of their parties, always ensuring they could come to one another’s celebration, even when it made for a hectic day filled with overtired and sugar-induced tantrums. Each year you acted as my official photographer when I was too overwhelmed to take a photo, making sure we (and most importantly, my daughter) had at least some record of the milestones that passed by.
I’ll always listen to the video we have of us singing happy birthday to my daughter at her first birthday party. While you weren’t in the shot, I can hear your voice and your laugh. I never want to forget what it sounded like. Yours was a voice and a laugh that comforted me over the phone when I was away at law school and wanted to quit, when I felt like I couldn’t last another minute on Mom duty or when my fiancé drove me crazy for some reason or another.
I’ll never forget the escapes we made to Starbucks to share a cookie and a brownie after the kids were in bed. You always insisted on paying and would fight me tooth and nail when I attempted to pay you back. Together we’d relax in the realization that we were “off the clock”, even if just for a short time. Or the endless trips we made to HomeSense and the day the kids shared a muffin in the cart, leaving a trail of crumbs in every aisle – anything to keep them quiet as we ogled furnishings neither one of us could afford.
And now, our baby girls are turning four. And you’re not here to celebrate with us. Now when I look at your daughter’s face, I see yours. I search her for clues and remembrances of you. I am lucky because she resembles you in almost every way. I want to hug her and never let her go.
I want you to know your babies are so very loved. And they are taken care of. And while this birthday will be so different from the rest, you will always be there with us, smiling down from your place in the sky (which is probably stocked full of chocolate, if you have anything to do with it).
You will never be forgotten.
I miss you, and I love you.