As the snow blew all around us, as the people who loved us dearly danced, my mind was still and my heart was calm.
I took it all in. I took in the expressions on the faces of our family, I took in the way the hall was decorated, the way the food smelled and the way the wine tasted. But most importantly, with a desperate and hungry heart, I took in the magic of snow and Santa and Christmas on a thirty degree day, in the middle of the month of August. It wasn’t a pre-Christmas, a pretend Christmas or a Christmas themed party. If you were one of the lucky few to have seen my girl dancing in the snow, giving Santa an unsure side eye, or gazing at the big Christmas tree adorned with lights with presents stuffed underneath, you would have understood that it was, in fact, Christmas Eve.
And that magic? I could see it pouring out of her. Like a trail of sparkly gold, it danced its way from her heart, around the room and into each one of ours.
I think about it today, as another year threatens to pass by those incredible moments.
I think about how Sandringham Drive had just given her a real and true Halloween, how my little house was to the brim with Christmas presents, decorations, baking and love sent to us from around the world.
I think about Lilee being able to have one last Christmas Eve, a tradition in my family that we hold very dear.
I think about the love.
I think about the magic.
But today I also think about not knowing what was coming. I try and put myself back into those days, those hours, those minutes. I try to think about what it felt like to wake up to her on Christmas morning and hear her tell me that Santa came. But today, the thoughts that break through are how I could see her bones through her skin. How she couldn’t walk quickly, or for long, because of the pain. I think about how I could see the effort it took for her to hold up her own head and the pain behind her eyes after she’d laugh, or sing, or have a moment of excitement.
All I can see is her dying there in front of me.
She was dying as she was giving me Christmas kisses in bed when we first woke up.
She was dying as she walked down the stairs, saw the tree lit, the doll house and all the presents underneath then turned to me and said “Mommy! Santa came!”
She was dying when everyone came over for breakfast and she was dying when we all sat and listened to Star FM play a Christmas song, just for her.
She was dying when she left to go with her dad for their Christmas and when she came back, and was too tired to get out of bed for the entire next day, she was dying then too. She was 10 days from leaving me. 10.
Today I think of how much I held her, and wish I would have held her more.
Today I think of how many times I said I love you and wish I would have said it more.
Today I think of how many time I looked her in the eyes and studied her face and wish I would have taken in more.
As the magic and love flow through my veins with the memories of our Christmas in August, the hindsight of watching Lilee-Jean deteriorate plagues my heart.
Today I’m in between again.
I’m in between wanting to cry and wanting to scream, between feeling completely full to the brim with love and excruciatingly hollow with loss. I’m in between wanting to celebrate the incredible life she had and the incredible people that gave it to her and wanting to find somewhere dark and secluded to try and block out all of the images that are tearing through my mind.
I watched her die, slowly and painfully.
But I watched her live, beautifully and magically.
So today, my heart remains somewhere in between these two things:
The life that moved thousands and the death that destroyed me.
Yours in limbo,