“Thank you for all of the blessings you have brought into our lives.”
These are always my last words to my daughter when we visit her grave.
I say this. And I mean it.
I am thankful.
I am thankful to her for the little messages and signs; the way she pushes the boundaries of separate universes, planes, and times to bring me comfort in the knowledge that there is something bigger than me outside of this life.
I am thankful that because of her, I love more, and know how important it is to let those that I appreciate know just how much.
I am thankful for the community of strong, powerful women (and men) that she has introduced me to–people whose grace, resilience, and compassion inspire me every day.
I am thankful for those who are earlier on in their journey, who reach out to me and afford me the opportunity to be a listening ear, to be able to say (and know and believe) “Things will get better. There is joy ahead for you.” Because I have been where they are, and I have survived it.
I am thankful, even, for the hardships, and the lessons I have learned. That there is no point in living if you are not loving fully. There is no point in being human, without reaching out through bonds to your fellow man.
I am thankful for the depth that she has instilled in my life. The way she has taught me that the little “things” matter, and just how much people do.
I am thankful that in her short little life, she loved me despite my weaknesses. She let me show my emotion and my pain, and still cuddled up to my chest to reaffirm what I meant to her.
I am thankful that she inspired me to start writing, and taught me that the time to write is now, not someday.
I am thankful for the role she plays in keeping her father and I together, when statistically child loss and infertility can easily rip apart even the strongest couples. And I am thankful for the hand that I know she played in bringing her siblings into this world, healthy and whole. Without Peyton, our twins wouldn’t be here. Some people struggle with that, but I accept it now for what it is—a gift.
I am thankful for the way that a falling leaf now represents so much; the way that rays of sunlight through dark clouds feels like a hug, and a flickering of the lights become a special “hello.”
I am thankful knowing that I owe the best and closest relationships of my life to her. My daughter showed me who to let in, who to let slip away, and most importantly to truly appreciate those who love her as much as I do.
I am thankful for the lesson that life is too short to spend being miserable or surrounded by the wrong people, even if it took me a million tears to get to this realization, and the freedom that comes (when I let it) in realizing that most things are out of my control. Peyton’s too-brief life, and the change she affected over the course of it, taught me that most hurdles in life can be overcome with the love of good friends, a smile, and a (sometimes twisted) sense of humor.
Mostly I am thankful that I have always felt her with me. From the dark depths of despair to the sunshine on my face, and every moment in between. Love never dies and some bonds can never be broken.
I am thankful for all the blessings that this precious child brought into my life…
How could I not be?
**A version of this post first appeared on the blog OnceAMother