Anniversaries are memory markers – usually joyful and festive occasions that make us feel proud and content with our lives. However, when it’s the anniversary of your child’s death, there are no words that could possibly explain how heart wrenching it is.

Today is the day that Taylor left this world, 9 years ago. Where there was a child brimming with life and possibility is now a hole in my heart. I wonder why I am alive and she is not and how I can find joy in the wake of her loss.

I have learned to live life without Taylor because I have no choice. And while the shock and intense anxiety has diminished as every year passes, the depth of my grief has increased. Every anniversary marks another year she missed of a beautiful life. What would she look like at 25 years old? What would she be doing? What would our family be like? The permanence of her absence is unbearable.

During the weeks leading up to the day she passed, I work to remind myself that losing Taylor is not happening all over again, but it’s a battle. And one made more difficult wondering how February 22nd could possibly be here again.

The loss of Taylor is a heartbreak that will not mend, but the past nine years have also taught me that grief and joy can coexist. I feel joy looking at the beautiful women Ryan and Corey have become. The meaningfulness of their lives gives meaning to mine. I feel joy with the love Bob and I share. Many couples do not survive the kind of loss we had with their marriages intact, but ours is ever stronger. I feel joy when I think about the work I do. And while my grieving for Taylor will never end, neither will our bond. Her positive, life-loving, spirited personality lives on in my heart and gives me love every day. Death cannot rob me of that.

In Taylor’s honor and with a mother’s passion, I will never stop working to bring healing to sick children, bring hope to frightened parents, to make a difference in a world where every little difference matters. I want to help families manage their battles and see them come out thriving. On this sad day, I renew that pledge.

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