As every child does Ailish has left huge footprints imbedded in my heart. Those teeny tiny feet that never independently held her up or took steps have pushed a hole clear through and out the back and I am the luckier for it.
Being her mother for eleven years was totally worth the agony of losing her. Knowing what I know now and experiencing the depths of despair daily I would say given the same circumstances I would do it all over again.
It was my choice to be Ailish's mother. I didn't have to be. In all honesty I did not believe for a second that the dire predictions of six months to a year of survival were accurate. I jumped in with both feet and open arms. The fear of losing her however became more prevalent as the days went on as I realized in joining an online community of families with children such as Ailish that for some the prognosis was very accurate. Every cough, hint of a runny nose and I went to the dark place thinking "this is it". I learned quickly though that if Ailish was going to live her fullest life I had to let go of the fear. The thought of Ailish dying was never far but it ceased being in the forefront of my mind.
Ailish was allowed eleven health filled years. I think that she would likely still be with us had she not had the spinal surgery. The problem was her spine was so twisted and she was becoming more and more uncomfortable. The surgery itself was a success. It was an unpredictable event that stopped the free flow of her cerebral spinal fluid leading to herniation that ended her life. Peacefully. Other than her living many years more with a straight spine and good health what more could I have asked for.
This will be our fourth Christmas without Ailish. She has been gone three years, nine months. The numbers are perverse. It was yesterday I was holding her and torturing her with my rendition of Oh Come Ole Ye Faithful her favourite song. If I sit for a minute I can feel the weight of her head on my arm and her hair causing my arm to itch. I feel lucky I still have those physical memories amongst others. The further away I get from holding her in my arms the more I grab onto these to prove to myself that she was real and I didn't just dream her.
It was yesterday. It was a lifetime ago.
Most days now I can get through without wanting to vomit when I am reminded she is gone. This is a good thing and a bad thing which needs no explaining to those who have lost a child.
Ailish remains apart of us, our thoughts, conversations and prayers. I hope this is the way it always is.