Naya's Day

Tomorrow would have been Naya's 12th birthday. It seems like a stupid statement, but only this weekend did I completely understand that the last images I will have of her are from when she was just a child, just 11 years old. I'll never see her turn 12, 18, or 20. No pictures of the future with her. She is just gone from our lives. How can it be? It still seems like a bad dream.

For the last two years, I've tried to look at the positive side in life and appreciate each day and experience. I've tried to be positive, open, kind, forgiving and loving. I'm not in the mood right now for any of it. Why? Because it really sucks to lose Naya.

I look for signs, only to wonder if I'm just seeking what's not there. I pray that she hears me, or sees me. When I drive alone, I imagine she's with me holding my hand in the car and singing a song. I think about her all day, and my heart is tied to her forever. I talk to her daily. I hear her yelling at Zak,and laughing at the dogs.

I've organized Naya's pictures, voicemails and mementos so I never forget anything about her. Even so, I'm realizing I will forget things. And that is scary. How can I possibly remember it all?

I'm realizing that the 5 stages of loss or lessons on the first year of grief are so shallow. There are no stages, and there's no way a quick read brochure can alleviate my grief. There's nothing good or right to say. There never will be. Sometimes, I just want to stop listening. But then, sometimes, I can't stop listening.

I feel an immense sadness from these realizations. A new sadness. It's different from losing her, which is still fresh and so, so painful. It's sadness mixed with fear and anger. It's about the fear of losing precious memories of my dear daughter. It's about losing the future that she was robbed from living. It's about shutting people out or letting disingenuous people in.

Tomorrow, I'm taking the day off. I don't think it'll be a celebration. But it will be in her honor. I'll ride her horse PJ and eat at her favorite restaurant. I'll work on her foundation. I won't work or even look at my phone. That's what she would have wanted.

To honor her tomorrow is to also renew my faith in the goodness of people and life. I want to live my life happy because she would want me to be happy. I want to remain positive because she was positive. I know she loved me deeply, and that gives me so much strength to love others in the same way. I was so fortunate to have Naya. Tomorrow will be a day where not a moment goes by where I don't think of what she represented: joy, love, life, strength and perseverance. It'll simply be a day dedicated to my Naya, just as her birthday should be.

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