October is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month. To help raise awareness, we are sharing a collection of blog posts written by Lauren McDaniel in honor of her daughter, Maddie who passed away due to SIDS in March 2019.

When The World Keeps Spinning

I haven’t been able to bring myself to write in a few weeks. To be honest, I’ve just been sad. I can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong, other than that I’m so deeply, deeply sad because I miss my daughter. I keep seeing a quote that says something along the lines of “If I could love you back to life, you’d still be here.” I feel this so much. I love her so beyond words, so beyond my own understanding — that I know she would be here if love could bring her back.

I was very fearful of this period when Maddie first died. When the dust settles. When the Earth would keep spinning, even though my world was shattered.

It seems that life keeps moving, faster and faster. Time doesn’t stop. Responsibilities don’t stop. We still have to work. We still have to go to Costco and the gym and get the mail and get the oil changed and pay bills. People still get pregnant and have babies and most of their babies will grow up.

I’m scared that people will forget Maddie, even though I try to keep her alive in any way that I can. I’m scared I’ll forget pieces of her, even though I’ve written them all down. I don’t want to forget anything about her. I don’t want her smell to wear off of her blanket, or to forget exactly what she sounded like when she cried or cooed. This feels like losing her all over, when I think about these fears.

Photograph courtesy of the McDaniel family

The parts that hurt most right now are the empty ones. My empty arms on the airplane this weekend, when she would have been in my lap. The emptiness where a beach tent would have sat to keep her out of the sun at the beach. Our silent room at night, without white noise or her cries. I feel this deep, endless emptiness and I miss my baby girl so much. Why can’t she be here to fill those spaces?

It will have been four months on Thursday. It feels like a lifetime. I hate that time goes on, and my daughter doesn’t. We’re growing and changing and she never will. I find myself daydreaming every day, in almost every situation of what it would be like if she were here. What she would be doing, how she would be interacting with us and Greyson, what outfits she’d be fitting into now. I clicked on an ad for Halloween baby outfits the other day, pretending — for just a second — she would be here for me to buy one for her (and a matching bow, of course).

In truth, I’ve been compartmentalizing quite a bit these past few weeks. I read a book, play a game, bury myself in email if it gets too heavy. I’m scared to break down, scared to cry because I don’t know if the tears will stop. I know they will, and I know they will come again. It’s just too much to feel it all sometimes, I guess.

I’m sorry that this post is sad. I don’t want to make anyone sad by posting it, but I just need to get it out. I do still have so many moments of happiness and all things considered, I know I’m so lucky and have a beautiful life that I’m thankful for. I just wish my daughter was here to experience it with us, physically.
Thanks for reading, as always, and thanks for walking with me and my boys on our journey. It means the world.
Missing you, Maddie. Always.

A Perfect Life

Maddie,

I think about you every minute of every single day. You’re my first thought when I wake up, and I dream of who you would be today in my sleep. You’re always perfect in my dreams.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on your life lately, short as it was, and what that means. One thing I am truly grateful for is that your life was perfect.

You never experienced any pain.

You never fought with anyone.

Nobody ever yelled at you.

You never had your heart broken.

You never had to worry or stress about school or money or a job.

You were never teased or made fun of.

You never had to lose anyone or experience grief.

All you knew was love.

All you knew were people who loved you surrounding you, holding you, caring for you, snuggling you. Every minute of every one of your 38 days Earthside.

Photograph courtesy of the McDaniel family

While it breaks my heart that you won’t experience life and its trials, as painful as they can be, I find a small amount of comfort in knowing that you are at peace and you only ever felt love. That you never had to suffer or go through any of the painful experiences in life that hurt me to think about as a parent. I don’t want your brother to go through these experiences, ever. I want to keep him in a bubble and shelter him as much as I can. But I know he will experience pain in some way, just as you would have if you were to grow older.

And still, at the same time, I wish you were here. I wish you were here so that I could go through these trials with you, right by your side. I wish I had the opportunity to protect you and teach you.

Instead, I’m just trying to find meaning and all the beauty I can in your short life. I’m trying to be grateful for at least this one thing, amidst all the pain of losing you. I’m trying to be your mom, and be the best one I can, even though you’re not with me physically.

I miss you all the time.

Love,

Mom

Breaking Open

I’ve recently read that if you let your heart break fully open, it can heal in such a way that you are open to more love than ever before. You have to let it split completely,  instead of letting it slowly crack here and there, filling the cracks only to let them burst open again. You have to feel the loss entirely, without any story attached to it. You must let your heart be so vulnerably exposed, open to that deep pain in order to heal.

I’ve been trying this lately, and as painful as it is to do, I feel myself healing more and more with each burst of pain. I find myself experiencing peace and even joy.

Yesterday I let myself do this. I looked at pictures of Maddie and let myself feel the pain of the loss completely. I let myself feel the pure, unimaginable and horrific pain of losing my daughter. I felt the deep void, the inexplicable and irreplaceable hole that will never be refilled. I felt the excruciating, chest tightening grief, knowing that I can’t have her back on Earth with me.

Photograph courtesy of the McDaniel family

I let myself feel. I gave myself time to cry and time to be upset. Afterward, I jumped in the pool, swam a little, floated a little, read my book and relaxed in the sunshine.

About an hour or so later, I was looking up dinner spots for my husband and I and felt this random burst of joy. It’s one of the first times I’ve felt actual, pure joy since losing Maddie and I want to document it. I want to remember that even here, I can feel joy. God wants me to be joyful.

I feel joy that I had Maddie, even for a short time.

I feel joy for my wonderful son, Greyson, and for his incredible soul.

I feel joy for my husband, and his unwavering strength and support.

I have so much, and we are not done with this life yet. We are missing our baby girl, but she will always have a place with us — even if it’s not her physical presence.

I feel so much hope in knowing that my work here is not done, that I have so much to do and that so much of that will be in honor of Maddie. I have so much to learn, so much to teach and so many people to help. I feel so much strength for myself and my family in this moment. While it hurts so much to let my heart break open and to feel this devastating loss, it allows me to be open to a deeper love, that I never thought possible before.

I will continue to do this because my daughter matters. I will feel the pain of losing her over and over again if it gives me even an ounce of strength and joy for my family going forward.

I don’t know that any of this makes sense to others, but it feels good to write and to share. Thank you for reading, for remembering my beautiful daughter, and walking with our family as we miss Maddie.

Some Say You’re Lucky
by Gregory Orr

Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.

But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs …

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2020-09-21T14:54:06+00:00October 2nd, 2020|Families, NILMDTS News, Parents|0 Comments

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