What I have learned so far

That bad things sometimes happen for no reason. I’ve always thought that bad things happen to bad people, or that they happen to good people who are strong enough to cope. Other people. And the surest way to avoid tragedy was to live a safe, productive life. Exercise. Work hard. Give to charity. Wear your seatbelt. But somehow all of my efforts failed me 15 days ago, and now I’m one of those “other people.” I am neither bad nor particularly strong. I’m so much like you.

That mornings are the worst for me. When I awake each day, I pause for a moment to see whether I’m still stuck in this new life. My wonderful husband rests beside me, for which I am so grateful. But I am not pregnant. And my younger daughter’s ashes sit in an urn on the chest of drawers a few feet from the bed.

That one of the greatest gifts a person can give me is to say or write Genevieve’s name. I fretted for months over her name, and I drove Greg to the edge of his sanity with my questioning. Would anyone know how to spell Genevieve? Would she ever learn to spell it? Couldn’t we agree on a shorter name? But that was the one name that we both loved, the one that sounded so adorable tumbling from Eleanor’s mouth, the one that we kept a secret for so long. Now that name is an acknowledgment that, even though you did not know her, Genevieve existed.

That long after most people will think that I have recovered, I will mourn. Yes, I will slowly feel better. But Eleanor will not be opening Genevieve’s presents for her at Christmas. Or fighting over toys with her. Or holding her hand as she starts kindergarten. I am mourning a lifetime.