Mabel would have been three weeks old today. I imagine I’d be celebrating things like, she slept for four hours straight! or maybe more realistically, she’s coming off oxygen! She took pumped breast milk by mouth! They say she can go home from the NICU soon! But those are celebrations for my dreams only. Instead, I celebrate other things. Showing a new person her photo. Hearing her name said aloud. Receiving things in the mail.
We have gotten many things in the mail. The cards keep coming, which I eagerly check the mail for every day. I like seeing Mabel’s name in writing. But every now and then we are surprised by something that shows up on our doorstep. And some of these gifts make my heartache in just the right way. One of the first things we received was this:
I thought it was a library bill or announcement when I first saw the envelope, but when I read the letter, I cried. I am a reader and frequent our town library and so to know that there is a book there with her name on it and saying “Mabel who never quit,” still makes me choked up. Some child will check that book out and ask their parent- “Who’s Mabel?” They probably won’t be able to answer, but her name will be spoken.
Another surprise gift was a necklace that showed up in the mail. I put it on immediately and have only taken it off to take this photo. When I’m out of the house and thinking about her I can just reach up, touch my little carrot and bring it up to my lips.
We received two ornaments. I lamented over our Christmas tree this year because we have many of Chris’s childhood ornaments, but none of mine (lost in a move). But now we have some that belong to our family. The first is a birthstone one. We don’t know who sent it (so thank you to whoever you are. Please let me know if it was you!) It’s special for two reasons- Mabel’s birth stone is amethyst and so is mine. Both February babies. And its very similar to an ornament Chris and I bought on our honeymoon- a witches ball handblown from the Sandwich Glass Factory.
We also have a beautiful shell ornament, saying “Every life leaves something beautiful behind.” It reminds me of the shell the chaplain used to baptize Mabel.
And then we received a package from Chris’s hometown. Every time we go back there, he takes me to a local restaurant which he raves about- Portillo’s. It’s known locally for their Italian beef. We were sent a package of their beef and all the fixings. Big smiles from Chris on this one.
My work also dropped off this:
A 50 year old bonsai tree, Mabel’s tree. Gives me something to care for and expend some of my pent up emotional energy towards.
And last (though not least, there are many other gifts we have received and I’m grateful for all of them), the National Down Syndrome Congress sends us a letter when someone donates in Mabel’s name. I cried when I got the first letter. I know many have also donated to our local chapter- the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress- as well. It’s a way for someone else, many someone elses, to read and know her name.