For 11 years I’ve wondered what it would be like to tell her.
I’ve imagined various scenes where it would take place. Coming out of Church? Sitting on the living room couch? Out on a walk? On a drive to one of her soccer practices?
And then I imagined the various reactions she could have. Would she be sad? Confused? Curious? I even wondered if she would have her own grief about it.
But this week, tucking her into bed surrounded by the haze of darkness and the mum of the music that always plays in the background of our bedtime routine with three kids, my wonder got one of its answers.
I can’t even tell you what was said in the moments leading up, but it was something relevant enough—combined with the maturity I have been seeing in her big brown eyes lately—that made me know the time had come.
A warmth came over me, and I took a deep breath as I imagined my tiny angel sitting beside me.
“I want to share something with you,” I told her.
We’ve been having a lot of “deep” mom-daughter conversations recently as I’ve intentionally tried to make a shift in our relationship as she enters sixth grade and becomes more and more aware of the world. And with every one, you can see in her face how special she feels that I’m telling her new things—even when those things are hard conversations.
But as she looked up at me, recognizing the shift in my demeanor, she said, “Wait, you look emotional, Mom, are you okay?”
“I am, honey,” I told her with a slight tear in my eye. “I’m both emotional AND okay, but there’s something I’ve always wanted you to know and for some reason, I think now is the time to tell you.”
And then I told her.
About the pregnancy that happened before her.
About how Mom and Dad were so excited.
About how hard it was to go to the doctor six weeks into finding out and not see a heartbeat.
About how we cried and our families cried.
About how I felt really scared when it happened.
About how I eventually learned how many families this happened to as well.
And finally . . . about when I found out I was pregnant with her just six short weeks later.
“It was a really difficult time,” I shared with her, “but all these years later I have come to accept that first baby was always meant to be an angel. After all, she brought me you, your brother, and your sister, how couldn’t she be?”
In her empathetic way, she grabbed my hand and I saw the wheels turning behind her eyes as she said, “So, you’re saying I had another sister?”
A long pause filled the air.
Her words hung in it as I tried to process what she said, trying to remember if any part of my story included the fact that I also thought it was a little girl.
But I didn’t . . . yet she imagined it too.
“Mom actually doesn’t know for sure,” I said to her. “But, I actually always imagined it was a little girl. And something tonight tells me I think we’re both right.”
I gave her a long kiss on the forehead as I wiped my tear.
“I love you,” I told her while holding her face in my hands. “You are a super special kid, and I’m just so lucky to be your mom.”
“I’m lucky to be your daughter,” she said.
As I walked out of her room, I peeked back at her as I always do to say an extra goodnight, and I saw her looking up at the ceiling.
Maybe trying to see through it to the stars and the heavens where our shared tiny angel exists . . . with her watchful eye probably cutting through the stars and the ceiling as she watches, watching over the ones who came after her.
For 11 years I’ve wondered how I would share her story.
But for a lifetime . . . I will know how lucky I was to be her mom too.
And I will honor her by loving the three living babies she gave me after her closing chapter.