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Hidden Triggers

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Charlotte. She is everywhere. I see her in so many things. Most of the time, the thoughts are happy memories but they are often tinged with a bittersweet sadness and longing. 

Around mid-June each year, it starts. For some reason, I'm extra sensitive to different memories or triggers. Some of these make sense. At the end of the school year, as kids are celebrating accomplishments and moving forward in time, I think of Charlotte. She never even made it to Kindergarten. I try to imagine what she would be interested in now, what her summers would look like, who her friends would be. Even with another child who has much to celebrate and keep me occupied, my thoughts fall back to her. 

Bear. Just sayin' hello. 
Other triggers are more mundane. I was at our chiropractor's office the other day for a regular visit and there was Bear, sitting there staring at me from the kid's play area. I hadn't thought about Bear in a while. Roger had found Bear at a yard sale while I was pregnant. It was one of the first toys that he bought just for our "new baby" (whose gender was still unknown) and Bear lived in the crib long before Charlotte ever slept there. We passed Bear along to Dr. Bender's office after Charlotte passed away and I hadn't thought about it in a long time...even though I visit the office about once a month. So there was Bear, looking at me. I didn't cry or get upset, but I just felt this twinge of grief that is difficult to explain. 

Another important reminder for me is her voice. I am so grateful that Roger made audio recordings of Charlotte throughout her short life. It all started when she was an infant and he would have her with him during his radio show at WHAN. This is how the got the nickname CJ the DJ. Later, especially as her tumor grew and the disease progressed, Roger made many recordings of Charlotte telling stories, talking about her favorite things, and even saying things like, "I love you, Mommy." You can hear the differences in her voice across the years, both as she matured from a baby into a toddler, and then as the brain tumor took over her ability to speak clearly. I always have these recordings on my iPod and I frequently have my tunes set to shuffle. Inevitably, I'll get an audio visit from my girl. Most of the time, it's a beautiful reminder that I love to hear. But sometimes it's incredibly painful. I could take them off my iPod but I need to hear them. It is so important to remember her and to keep that memory alive. Our greatest fear is forgetting. 

Charlotte Jennie, July 9, 2005-January 7, 2010
So as July begins and we prepare to honor what would be Charlotte Jennie's 12th birthday, I'm extra sensitive and extra thoughtful of my first born daughter. The triggers that normally wouldn't bother me quite so much could make me much more emotional than usual. I tend to let the waves wash over me for a bit, even if it means I swallow some seawater. Soon enough, the tide will ebb, the seas will calm, and I'll be back to floating. I've still got a life preserver in reach at all times. 

Miss you, Baby Girl. 

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