We were in Indiana over Ginger's birthday, and I never really got to blog about my feelings on her reaching a year. I posted that video (which I made before we left on vacation)- but of course it doesn't have words...and I find myself feeling so different at the close of Ginger's first year than I ever expected I would feel.
The first year of Ginger's life was very different for me compared to the first year of Paprika's. I'm not talking about being a parent "the second time around" (as people like to say) or being more relaxed, or feeling more comfortable. No, not that.
I'm talking about how different it is to fall in love after horrible and tragic loss. What it feels like to love someone so much but be scared that it could all end at any moment. The only thing I can really compare it to is having your heart broken and learning to love again. But it's a thousand (a million?) times stronger than that.
Before Ginger was born, the only hope I had for her was that she would be born alive. That's it. I wanted to meet her and watch her take a breath, and I never really thought past that point. I wanted her to be healthy, sure...but I knew that even if she had health problems, it would be okay as long as she was alive when she was born. I just wanted to stare into her eyes for a moment and have her stare back at me and smell her sweet breath. It was a dream I had with our twins...but of course they had passed away by the time I gave birth to them, and although I got to hold them, I really wanted see them alive.
So, in the few moments after Ginger was born she had already fulfilled all of my parental expectations for her. It sounds funny to say that, but it's true. Everything since that point has been gravy...unexpected, glorious, and sweet gravy.
One of the hardest parts about being a parent "this time around" is opening my heart and letting myself love with every corner of my being: risking that, of course, it could all end tomorrow. It is so hard sometimes. But I find Ginger is patient with me in ways that I never could have imagined. Each day her smile breaks my weary heart into a million pieces, wrapping herself around its very core. She has intertwined herself into my soul, and it's just...oh, I don't know...too powerful for words.
With Paprika, I expected to love her with every fiber of my being. I expected to be enamoured by each milestone, each new expression. With her, my love was so new. I had never experienced the heartache of saying goodbye for a lifetime, and I never thought I would.
With Ginger it's different, but it's also the same. Each day as I watch Ginger grow, I can't help but think of Vivian and Annemarie, and what they would be like now. Each day I watch Ginger grow I feel my grief opening up, and I feel myself healing in all of my broken places. When she takes my face in her hands and pulls herself up to kiss me on the lips over and over again (this is her new trick), I think to myself, "How could I have ever known that she would be so sweet, so pure, so innocent, so magical?"
So, this first year of Ginger's life...it's really been a love story. About how a broken heart can heal in the broken places. Not ever fully, of course. But how a soul can learn to laugh again, and sometimes even cry...knowing that there still is joy in the world.
She gave me hope. She gave us all hope. And to think all I ever wanted was for her to be born alive. I would say that she's gone pretty far and above that. Each day...each moment with her, is an unexpected blessing that I cherish in the root of my soul and never, ever (not even for a second) take for granted.