This is a letter I wrote to my daughter, our lone surviving triplet. Born more than 17 weeks premature, she is now almost four years old and thriving. I often wonder what life would be like if her siblings survived. This letter was written two years ago, when Peyton was 19 months old. While the grief has changed over the years, this letter perfectly encompasses what often goes through my mind.
As I sit here rocking you to sleep, tears stream down my face. You are absolutely gorgeous, a perfect miracle resting in my arms. Your little hands are tightly wrapped around my fingers, as if you’re telling me it’s OK to be sad. Your eyes are fluttering as you fall deep into sleep. I can only wish that you dream of your brother and sister.
Life wasn’t supposed to be this way. The tears should be laughter, the heartache should instead be pure joy. But life didn’t turn out perfectly. Your brother and sister left this earth far too soon, and ever since, we’ve been learning how to balance grief with the happiness you bring our family. When I found out at 6 weeks I was expecting triplets, I began to picture life with three perfect children. I imagined you and your identical sister playing house, while your brother plays catch with your dad. I pictured me chasing after three toddlers, a never ending game of hide-and-go-seek. I dreamed of an instant bond, a lifelong friendship between the three of you. But instead, you’re our miracle survivor, living here on earth without your two best friends.
For the most part, I try to hide my tears from you. It’s been 19 months since my first child passed away and I don’t want people to feel sorry for me or to feel uncomfortable around me. But to be honest, a little piece of me died those two days when I lost your sister Abigail, then your brother Parker two months later. I’m a changed person after dealing with the death of my children. No matter how happy I am, there will always be a part of me who misses P & A. Sure, it gets less difficult over time. But, there is no magic number for the days, months or years one will spend grieving. I will never get to hold my children again. Instead, I have to cling onto to the few memories I have. The soft stroke of Abby’s face as they called her time of death; the gentle rocking of Parker as he took his final breath. And I fear that those memories will become harder to recollect as time goes on. So when I feel sad, I find myself looking through their few belongings, even smelling their hats and blankets in hopes of remembering their scent and their warm touch.
It’s during the night as I rock you to sleep, that I allow myself to wallow. Why is it that I hide my tears from you during the day? You didn’t plan your life, you had no control of your beginning. You were a fighter since the start, your strong personality proving to nurses why you won’t ever give up. The sadness I feel for your brother and sister gives way to a full heart and endless love that I feel for you. Sure, I miss your siblings, but I don’t want you to ever feel like you are not the most important person in our lives. Your infectious giggle makes me laugh, and each morning, I wake up excited to see what new thing you will discover. Seeing life through your eyes, gives me life. And during those moments I need it most, your beautiful smile erases the sadness. So thank you my precious daughter. Thank you for defying the odds to be here today. Thank you for teaching me a new purpose in life. And thank you for being you…Perfectly Peyton in every way.
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A version of this originally appeared on Her View From Home