Someday, during a future Christmastime, I imagine that my daughter will ask me a question. Her tone will be inquisitive and her eyes curious, but it will not be a question deep with meaning. Instead, her question will be imbued with the simple curiosity of a child who notices when the number of stockings doesn’t match the number of people.
I imagine that my daughter will turn to me and wonder why we hang four stockings in a house where there are only three people.
To be completely honest, I am looking forward to her question. I look forward to the day when I can tell her another part of our family’s story–when I can tell her about the sister she has never met.
I will tell her about the someone who came before her. I will tell her that there was another little girl who knew the sound of Mama’s heartbeat. That there was another little girl who heard Mama’s voice sing Christmas carols and Beatles songs. There was another little girl who Mama whispered to who she also called ‘baby girl.’
Undoubtedly she will wonder where that girl has gone. Why is she not here to peek inside her stocking on Christmas morning?
I will explain about how she left us before she ever really came. I will explain that when she was born, quiet and still, Mama and Daddy had to say both hello and goodbye. I will explain that even though she is gone, she still exists. She is forever in that place between a wish and a memory.
Then I will tell her–that little girl with the curious eyes–about what it’s like to love two little girls so very much. I will tell her that mothers are capable of loving their children when they’re in their arms and when they are out of arm’s reach. I will tell her the one who came before, the one that we call Dorothy, helped Mama’s heart grow so big that it left plenty of room for another little girl to come next.
And because that first little girl did such a good job of making space, we will always make sure to hold space for her.
Sometimes that space will be inside of our hearts and sometimes it’s the kind of space that lets us hang four stockings in a house where three people live.
Originally published on An Unexpected Family Outing