I went to the cemetery yesterday to visit Mila. I brought a planter full of silk flowers and sat on the ground where she is buried. I felt empty. I felt cheated. I felt that sitting on a patch of grass and staring at my daughter's name on a grave marker was so insignificant when I should have been holding her in my arms.
I find myself daydreaming about her. I catch myself imagining my water breaking while I wander the isles of the grocery store. I picture what it would have been like to show up at work, huge and swollen, days before going into labor. I wonder what Thanksgiving would have been like in the hospital.
Today was my due date. I try to remember that today is just a day and that I probably wouldn't have had her today anyway. But I was sad even before I woke up.
So as I sit and think about how much I miss the baby that I never got to meet, it is easy to feel like there is nothing to be thankful for. But then I remember all that has happened in the last 45 days. I remember Anthony and how strong he has been. I remember him holding our baby girl and knowing, even more than before, how good of a dad he is. I remember all of the times he has held me as I cried, always patient and tender and loving.
I remember my family and how quick they have been to drop everything to be there for us. I remember my sister booking last minute flight after flight to make sure I wasn't alone. I remember my mom putting all of Mila's things in the nursery so that we wouldn't be overwhelmed when we came home from the hospital. I remember my dad driving me to the cemetery and helping me make the arrangements that I never imagined I would even be thinking about.
I remember Anthony's family. How his parents drove back and forth from Tampa, how they helped with the funeral, and how they visited Mila in the days after to make sure she was taken care of. I remember how sensitive Jackie and Drew were to our feelings while they were counting down to the most important day of their lives.
I remember Little Anthony and how he has forced me to live in the moment. I remember the times he brought me tissues while I was crying and all of the big bear hugs he has given just because he can sense that I am sad.
I remember my friends. I remember every person who drove or flew or took time off to visit me when Anthony had to go back to school. I remember all of the people who sat on our couch and cried with me. I remember all of the days I was not alone because of someone who loves me. All of the walks, the lunches, even the laughs. I remember the firsts. The first time out of the house, the first trip to the mall, the first glass of wine.
I remember every person who came to the service. Every person who flew from other states, every person who traveled for hours on end, and every person who drove across town to say goodbye to Mila. I remember Anthony's extended family and how they all came together, like they always do, to support us. I remember every person who laid a rose on top of her tiny casket.
I remember every person who sent a card or flowers or a meal to show that they were thinking of us. I remember every person who reached out with a text or phone call or Facebook message, and those who continue to send their love and support. I remember the people I have never even met who were affected by our story.
As I think back over the last 45 days, I realize that even though I don't have the one thing I want more than anything in this world, I do have so much to be thankful for. Mila has touched so many people and I am thankful for every one of them. I know that she is, too.
And so now, as Anthony prepares to fry his first turkey, I will remember all of the people I am thankful for. And I will pray that he doesn't blow up the house.