There are certain times that the loss of Hailey feels a little more intense and realistic than others. Although I don't often verbally express or physically show the constant feeling of emptiness I have without Hailey, it is ALWAYS there on my mind. Today, for example, was one of those days.
I went to a birthday party for one of my good friend's son. Lexi was at a friend's house and Sean stayed home while Ava napped. As I walked across the parking lot by myself it struck me that I probably would have taken Hailey with me today. Where else would she have been while Lexi was gone and Ava was napping? She would have gone to her little friend's birthday party with me. As I pictured us walking together, hand in hand, through the parking lot, my stomach did that little flip flop thing and my heart skipped a beat or two. I sat and wondered to myself where she would have been playing and who she would have been playing with. Watching the other children hit the pinata stung a little too. I remembered her two years ago at that same sweet boy's party climbing on the jungle gym, eating "peesh" and cake, hitting the pinata and scrambling for the candy. I really missed her right then.
After the birthday party we went to Sean's company picnic. There was a bounce house and one of those huge inflatable slides. Hailey LOVED those slides! She was seriously fearless. I remember about a month before she died we were at another birthday party with one of those slides and she insisted on climbing the blown up inflatable stairs, all the way to the top, BY HERSELF. I couldn't dare touch her. She was also one of the youngest and smallest children there. Well sure enough, she did climb that entire thing by herself. All the while, a huge line of about 10 other kids patiently trailed behind her. I watched and waited for her to get to the top, look down, and refuse to slide. I was annoyed because I knew that I would then have to climb that darn thing and slide down with her. (Wow, what I wouldn't give to do that today.) Anyways, I couldn't have been more wrong. She got to the top, plopped onto her little bum with a bounce and took off down that slide! The smile on her face as she sailed down was "amayzing"!!! She loved it.
Anyways, back to the company picnic. Towards the end of the day, Lexi really wanted to take Ava down the huge slide. It's way to high for her to do herself, so I figured I'd pony up and go with them. I carried Ava to the top, while Sean waited at the bottom with the camera. Lexi sat down next to me and I had Ava on my lap. Suddenly, we all took off together. Lexi and I screamed the whole way down (I think Ava was too in shock to even utter a sound!) and then we all fell in a heap at the bottom laughing. Sean was there taking pictures and for another moment I felt it. I felt it so strongly. Hailey was missing. (I'm sure she was there in spirit and all, but that's not what I mean.) Hailey was missing from all those pictures. I want a picture of me with my THREE girls laying at the bottom of the slide out of breath and laughing hysterically. I really missed her in that moment too.
Then as I talked to one of Sean's co-workers who has three children almost the same ages as my three, that little yearning feeling crept in yet again. I watched their three kids together all day - running, jumping, laughing and sitting to eat. I yearned so badly to have my three girls together like that again. And yes, once again, I really missed her.
It's horrible because that void will always be there and as painful as it constantly is, I kind of want it there. I don't ever want anything to take it's place...I just want Hailey back in it. There will always be a big open spot where she's supposed to be. Every time we're together as a family we feel her void, especially when we take photos. I love photography and taking pictures of my girls, but this loss has put a little damper on it because every single time I photograph my girls, apart or together, the physical absence of Hailey slaps me across the face. That's something I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with.
These are the times when I struggle with my loss and grief the most. Those normal, day to day activities when Hailey should just be bouncing around, carefree, and happy-go-lucky with her sisters (and her mom and dad.). I know one day I'm going to have to come to terms with the void she has left behind and I think in a lot of ways I have accepted it already, but I'm not sure that I will ever do so completely.