Today was one of those days. One of those really hard days. Where missing Penelope Joy feels so fresh. I don’t know why it was like that. I don’t know what made today different. What I do know is that there were several times when I caught myself thinking about her and missing her. Right in the middle of a meeting. And in the middle of working on a project. I even found myself driving home with tears in my eyes as I thought about our baby girl.
I’m sure it has a lot to do with what’s on the horizon.
Christmas was hard last year — nearly impossibly hard. This year, it’s hard in a different kind of way. We’ve settled into our grief and into our life without Penelope Joy. But there’s still a hole. And I can’t stop myself from thinking about how fun our little 15-month-old Pickle would have been — I mean, come on, that’s like the perfect age for Christmas and all its magical joy.
Maybe that’s what it is. Christmas is such a magical, happy time — or, at least, it should be — that so perfectly pairs with the magic of childhood. Don’t get me wrong: I do enjoy Christmas. And I don’t hold anyone’s happiness or joy or magical moments against them. And I think everyone should embrace those things in celebration of what this season is about. But, it makes missing Penelope Joy fresh again.
We’ve certainly found some ways to bring Penelope Joy — and her spirit — into our Christmas celebration. We have many special ornaments on our tree for her. We also buy presents from the Angel Tree for little girls who are around the age Penelope Joy would have been. These things do make her feel closer. (Learn more about how we remember Penelope Joy during the Christmas season.)
After some discussion, we decided to have some maternity photos taken with Sprout. We had some done with Penelope Joy, and I
loved love them. But it feels very weird. We’ll basically be having family pictures without our whole family there. I suppose it will always feel strange, knowing that part of our “us” is missing.
I cannot even begin to tell you the joy and excitement we have in our hearts as we await the arrival of our precious Sprout. (Just under two months to go!) It’s pretty much beyond words. And knowing that the doctors have told us our baby looks wonderfully healthy — no signs of any heart or other defects at this point — gives us even more reasons to celebrate.
But every part of this pregnancy has been tinted with what happened with Penelope Joy. And as we look forward with such joyful anticipation to Sprout’s arrival, we’re reminded of our precious Penelope Joy.
We finally unpacked the 14 boxes of Penelope Joy’s things. (You know, for a little girl who never got to come home, she sure had a ton of stuff!) So much of it we’ll get to hand down to Sprout — most of it brand-new, even. Can they really ever be hand-me-downs if they never were used by their original owner?
We spent a lot of time on Memory Lane while we were unpacking those boxes and getting Sprout’s nursery ready. We were reminded of what we missed out on — but also were reminded of the amazing gift we’re being given with Sprout as well. It’s a weird feeling — being sad but oh-so happy at the same time. But, as time goes on, I do get more and more used to those two contradicting emotions living side-by-side in me.
So, there’s a lot going on. A lot to be overwhelmingly happy about. And some things to be sad about, too. That’s probably why today was one of the hard days. There’s a lot going on — and there’s a lot coming up. And mixed emotions (combined with pregnancy) can be exhausting. I know not every day is going to be hard — and not every hard day will be completely hard. I also know that it’s OK to have hard days and it’s OK to be sad. And I know that the sadness does not — in any way — diminish the joy in my heart about Sprout. Nor does that joy diminish my love for Penelope Joy.