Sometimes it seems as if I must have dreamed you. Sometimes it seems as if you couldn’t ever have really been here. Because how, then, could you now be gone?

The season has changed without you. Effortlessly, it seems, spring is here. In this time of blue skies, blossoms and warmer winds, to hang on to memories of Christmas and you seems ridiculous. It is as if a door has closed behind winter and locked you in with it, too. You are gone from me. Were you ever here?

Your face stares out at me from the banner of this useless webpage. Your face means you were here. It was your face I tried to memorize that winter night we said goodbye. I know you were here because I saw your face. I kissed it. I know you were here.

But you weren’t here. You were there. In that hospital room and nowhere else. You weren’t here, in this house, which filled instead with condolence cards and flowers, or here, on these spring streets, snuggled in against my body while your sister runs and twirls ahead of us, or here, at my breast, with a hand curled on my chest and your eyes looking into mine.

Why does it feel suddenly like you are really gone? Is it because everyone around us has moved on so easily with their lives? I never expected other people’s lives to stop because of our tragedy, but then I’m not sure I expected ours to stop so completely, either. To be stuck hurting here in the long moment of our daughter’s death, watching friends and family smile and laugh and plan parties, Easter egg hunts and long weekends. Watching other little girls grow, celebrate birthdays, take first steps. We are stuck, stuck, stuck. Part of ourselves forever in January; another part knowing we’ll never find January again.

You were real. You were here. You are gone.

You are missed. So very, very missed.