Five Thanksgivings, that’s how many Gabby was with us. That’s five turkeys, five games Dallas played, five visits to Christmas Village. Holidays are rough for us all in this house, and this one was not any different. Carolynn and I took turns breaking down, in private, trying to always smile in front of the girls on what is normally supposed to be a joyous occasion in an ordinary household. We had Thanksgiving dinner, the girls set a place for Gabby and like the last two years the plates remained empty as they always will. The stuffed penguin Gabby wanted while in the hospital sat on the chair and a stuffed animal wolf in a ballerina outfit sat in front of her plate. A stuffed animal Carolynn purchased on the 2nd anniversary since we lost Gabby because it reminded her of Gabby.
We left to see a light display a few minutes away, nothing like the one we used to go to on Thanksgiving but still cute in a much smaller way. The girls got their picture with Santa as well as Xander. It was at this point it hit me again how different our daughters are now. The joy, the magic of the season almost seems gone. As soon as the picture was taken the girls got up and walked away. Santa asked Katie what she wanted and she replied “stuff”. My daughters aren’t rude, but this was. The more I thought about it Carolynn and I are to blame. We don’t walk into the holidays the way we used to. We lost that magic in our hearts two years ago. It’s so hard to get it back when it’s gone. Again cancer took our daughter and keeps on taking. I’m terrified my children will grow up and be like us. Hurt, lost, and always wondering what would have been?
The truth is we didn’t just lose Gabby; we lost Gabby’s future as well. Which is something we will deal with until we leave this place. We lost her proms, her first adult tooth, her wedding. I had already picked the song I was gong to dance with her at her wedding. I used to sing it to her nightly before she went to bed; The way you look tonight…The Sinatra version. We lost that, there will be no Father/Bride dance between Gabby and I now.
We wake up and tell each other; today will be different, today won’t hurt, today we will smile and know happiness, but it seems today just becomes another day of trying to survive, over two years later and we are still just trying to survive. Carolynn asked me this morning “do I think it will ever get any better?” For the first time rather than say yes I think I just replied; I don’t know.
Maddie and Katie woke me up early and wanted to go shopping this morning, I’m anti shopping on holidays and have only ever gone out twice to buy two specific things in the last 20 plus years at this time. However the girls really wanted to go to one store so as Carolynn slept I jumped in the car and took them. With a smile on my face. A song came on the radio and the girls explained to me that they had heard on the radio during an interview that the beat of the song was compiled using the sounds of children’s heartbeats. That’s when my mind sunk back to that spot, it happens daily. I’ve gotten extremely good at not sinking to that spot while I’m out, but today I couldn’t help in. My mind traveled back to September 11 2011. The night Gabby took her last breath, the night her heart beat one last time. All I could think of is: I wish I would have known, I wish I would have realized her heart would be taking that one last beat. I mean how unbelievable is that?: My five year olds heart beat for the last time. I could actually picture her heart, beating and then nothing, quiet, stillness. That tiny little heart that wasn’t given a fair chance, a heart who had so many more years of work it could do was finished. If I would have known maybe I would have picked her up, maybe I could have done something to keep it going, maybe if I held her upright it wouldn’t have stopped. These are the things that go through my head, I wish I could stop them, I wish they weren’t there, but I can’t get them out, I can’t stop them from coming back. I’m just so tired of reliving these things, but yet I feel guilty because my heart is still going, I am still breathing. Who am I to say; I’ve had enough? Gabby was robbed of life and her sisters were robbed of their childhood. I work with second graders between the ages of 7-8. I could never imagine these kids understanding what death meant. Then it hit me; Katie was the same age when we lost Gabby, She held her hand as her heart stopped beating. And here she is now, colder, harder and hurting. She will hurt for the rest of her life. It’s my Job just to make sure she doesn’t end up like me, doesn’t end up always crying on holidays, it’s my job to help give them their childhood back.
My Letter to Gabby
Hi Gabba Goo, I miss you so much, Mom made Thanksgiving dinner last night, Maddie and Katie helped with the dishes. We used the good china because we now realize every occasion is a special occasion. We laid around in PJ’s and watched the parade and the dog show. I miss how it felt when you use to put you head on my belly like a pillow. My belly is so much bigger now, It would be a very soft pillow for your head.
Your brother ate his first turkey; He also ate mashed potatoes and green beans. Even though our rule is all babies wait till they are one to have sweet stuff we let him try pumpkin pie. I remember going and getting pumpkin pie for you when you were sick. He loved it.
We went and saw Christmas lights and got our picture taken with Santa, we came home and I fell asleep while your sisters watched some cheesy girlie movie that you would have loved. During our dinner we all said a toast to you and said we were thankful we had you as our Guardian Angel.
I miss you Gabster each and every day I miss you more. We are doing okay here, Your foundation is helping other little kids, Your brother is getting so big, He has three of the best sisters a little brother can have. I’ll see you later Gab.
As I said each Holiday is rough, this one has always been my favorite that is no longer the case. I can think of all the things I won’t have with Gabby, I can sit here and scream; she was robbed!!! And she was. But today I’m thankful for the five turkeys I shared on five thanksgivings with Gabby, I’m thankful for the five Dallas games I watched with her on Thanksgiving. I’m thankful I was in the room when she came into the world and I was right next to her kissing her head when she left five years later. And most importantly I’m thankful I was able to share life with her as her amazing heart beat those five short, wonderful years. Thank you for that Gabby.
Believe in Gabby
Believe in a heartbeat
Believe we can make a difference
John (Gabbys Daddy)