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The Bucket List

Since Julia’s birthday, we have entered into another stage of the “new” normal that I like to call the “what would” stage. During the day, the questions come to mind; what would Julia be doing now? What would she be learning at school? What would she have said? The list goes on and on. And with each question comes a greater sense of loss.

The weeks have been increasingly harder with the beginning of winter. I look outside and see the bare tree branches in the back yard, the dormant grass, the play set that goes unused. It feels lonely and so cold. Perhaps it is because there is so much joy and excitement in the air with the on-set of the holidays and I feel like an outsider, like some disconnected voyeur, just watching but knowing I can’t truly take part. Not this year.

Early Christmas morning I sat in a quiet house. There was no sweet voice ringing out “Merry Christmas! Can I wake up everyone up? Can we go down and see if Santa came to visit?” There were no giggles. No screeches of delight with seeing the surprises left under the tress. Only silence.

How can we celebrate the joy of the birth of a child when our baby isn’t here with us?

My heart is broken. My thoughts drift to another family who lost their sweet child only a few hours earlier, another little girl whose cancer also brought a death sentence, another child with a bucket list. I cried for her family and for their loss, a loss I know all too well.

And then my thoughts traveled to the other families. The families few will know about because there loss was not covered by the media, telling their child’s story. But the pain, the loss, is still just as hard, still just as difficult, still just as raw. I began to count. It has been 111 days since Julia left us and she has been joined by almost 400 other children, all who have died from cancer, children with bucket lists. And I cried, I cried for all of them and of course, I cried for Julia. I have cried every day since Julia died, since I lost my little girl, since I lost my light. But this was different. I have held back for so long, trying to be strong for everyone. These tears came from a depth of my soul.

Oh Julia, what would today have been like if you were here? What would tomorrow be like, if only you were with us? What would, what would … But from somewhere came a sense of calm, that little voice saying “Don’t worry about what would have been, mommy. Think about what could be… we can make a difference”.

Then I remembered…that was Julia’s bucket list. And the tears slowed.

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