It’s been a tough week for me.

This morning, when the alarm clock beeped at 6:20am, I began my usual argument with myself. I weighed my need for exercise, my need for stress relief, my need for forgetful sleep, the reality of the unrestful dreaming (last night I had nightmares about a plane crash and something else tragic that I’ve since forgotten…), our dog’s need for exercise… and finally decided to get out of bed.

As I ran with the dog this morning, we watched the sun peak into town and find all the newly red, orange, and yellow leaves of today. And then all sorts of memories from previous falls started playing through my mind’s eye like a slide show.

  • Our wedding, 11 years ago. It was a gorgeous fall day and I couldn’t have been happier to begin a new family of two with Scott.
  • Elli’s second surgery, which occurred in late August.
  • Big Boy’s birth, after which I vowed never to have another baby and if I did, to never do it without an epidural again.
  • Our first vacation to Myrtle Beach in which we waited out Tropical Storm Gaston in a trailer just 300 yards from the water. I was just a few weeks pregnant with Little Girl (yes, I had more babies, and yes, I had epidurals both times). Elli had just had a massive seizure (in fact, it was touch and go whether we’d get to travel or not for awhile) and had started a seizure medication that utterly decimated her ability to sleep at night. Unless you’ve experienced extended sleep deprivation while trying to grow a baby and raise two young children, you have no idea what kind of torture I experienced that fall.
  • Our move into a new home which finally had the space we needed for all of Elli’s gear.
  • Little Girl and I both getting horribly ill from a microbe she picked up in a local river, and me missing Big Boy’s birthday party that year because I couldn’t get off the couch. In fact, I was still quite sick on our weekend anniversary getaway that year.
  • Little Boy’s first open-heart surgery. We dressed him up like a jaguar in the CICU for Halloween — his oxygen cannula made great whiskers.

  • Elli’s death last year.

When I thought about losing Elli last October, suddenly all the faces of our friends who flooded into town for Elli’s viewing and memorial service started flashing by. I hadn’t thought about those services in a long time.

I remember being so overwhelmed, in a good way, by the outpouring from friends and family. People drove hours from all over to visit us, and one couple who are dear friends from our New York City days flew in unannounced.

People who we’d never even met but who had prayed for Elli through her many illnesses and surgeries came. Every Single Teacher and almost every classroom aide who ever worked with Elli came.

And many who were unable to come in person sent cards and letters. Our mailbox was packed for weeks after. We have saved every single card and note and sometimes I reread them, with a tissue box next to me.

Even today, remembering brings tears to my eyes. You all will never know how much those expressions of love and support meant to us, and still means to us today. I am sure that attending the viewing and/or memorial service for a child who dies is one of the most difficult things imaginable. And finding any word to say at all is nearly impossible. We appreciate your efforts so much. It brings us much comfort even today, 11 months later.