One month ago Ava left this world. It somewhat sucks that only two days ago we were talking about it only being one month since her birth. Kind of crappy these two days are so close together. Every year it will be like that.
I have this shirt. It’s a Western Michigan University shirt. Leah bought it for me a few years back. It is one of my favorite shirts because it fits me just right. It’s gray with gold lettering. It’s not too tight and not too baggy. It’s also the shirt I was wearing in every photo we have of Ava. I will keep this shirt for the rest of my life, if it lasts that long. I can’t not wear it so I will just have to be careful.
I remember when I came home from the hospital. My clothes were jumbled up in a bag. Keeping our house in order after we got home was not something that was easy to do. We had several bags from the hospital among other things that just sat around the house for a while. Eventually, I had to do laundry and came across my WMU shirt. It still had the sticker on it from the last time we went to the NICU. It had the date and either Ava’s room number or Leah’s room number on it. Maybe both, I don’t remember. I slowly peeled the sticker away and held it in my hand. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I wanted to hold on to the memory but I wasn’t sure if it was silly to hold on to a sticker. I thought about it but threw it out. The shirt will always remind me.
Every little memory of Ava I have I treasure. They can bring me enormous amounts of pain. Without those memories I would be lost. Everything that I remember about the time that we have with her I cling to because it’s all I have. I have about three days of memories with Ava, counting the time we had with her after she passed. While these times came with so many tears and so much hurt I know that I couldn’t trade that time for anything. I only had three days to make every memory I could. It just wasn’t enough time.
As we may have mentioned, we have a few photos of Ava when she was alive. I don’t know how many but it’s not a lot. There are a couple of photos where she is holding my finger. One in particular is my favorite but it is so hard for me to look at. I have only looked at it a handful of times since we lost Ava. While she is holding on to my finger, Ava is actually reaching across her body holding on to my finger. Every single time I have looked at it I have thought about how much she is reaching for me like she needs me. It is the hardest thing to think about. She was so innocent, so fragile, so in need of her dad. I know she needed me to save her. I just wish that I could have.
I feel like I have been robbed. Ava was robbed too. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way. Today is not a day that I am happy about. The 10th of any month will be my least favorite. The 10th of July will be my most hated day of the year, every year for the rest of my life.
After everything that is happened, I look back on all the moments I had with Aveline. All the times I cried, all the times I prayed, all the times I promised, all the times I felt grateful. It is the most bittersweet love I have ever felt in my life and I doubt anything will ever compare to it.
Ava, I am sorry this had to end up like this. As your father, I couldn’t save you. I wish that I could have. It is my biggest regret… my biggest failure. One moth ago, you left this world hopefully to be in a place far greater that this. I will love you always. I will never forget you and I will make sure my family never forgets you. My life is forever changed because of you. I miss you. Love, Daddy.