Three months ago, Lauren died and was born. Three months since I brought her into the world to say goodbye to her. Three months since I learned that the worst can always happen.

On September 28, I could not imagine what the future held for me. I could not think past that day, what it meant to live my life without my daughter. I could only think of the ‘now,’ the moment of birthing and losing her. The short-term. The wracking pain I felt on that day. Grief was new to me then, an unknown thing I didn’t fully understand. I couldn’t predict what it would do.

In certain ways, that is still true. I wake up in the morning never knowing how grief will take me. One morning, I may wake feeling in control, capable of functioning, perhaps even finding the day an enjoyable one. The next, I  may not even want to get out of bed, and when I do, I spend the whole day in a funk, on the verge of tears.

Even when I don’t want to get out of bed, I do. I won’t let myself wallow in grief. I will allow myself to feel it, and I will allow myself the tears when they come. But I won’t give in to it. What I realize in this ‘now’ is that the grief will always be here with me.  We hears so often that time heals. It does – and it doesn’t. The body never truly forgets its wounds: a break in the bone will still be visible in the skeleton, a scar will remain for years to come, phantom limbs exist where true ones have been lost. Time cannot heal completely.

I miss Lauren now more than I did three months ago. In some ways, the pain is greater. A tiny bit duller, maybe, but more present. Perhaps that is an effect of the holidays, the time of year when I expected to introduce Lauren to her family and show her off. In this time of joy, all I have are reminders of what I have lost.

Three months ago, she was still with me. She had died, but I hadn’t lost her completely. Now, I have nothing of her but my memory. I don’t even have my bulging stomach to hold. My body has moved on from pregnancy. My bleeds have come back to me, my hips are slimming (slowly), and my energy is returning. But even so, the memory of Lauren remains. It’s all I have.

Now, three months later, I realize what I did not realize then: she will never come back. I will be waiting for her forever. I will have to live my life without her. One can’t understand that at the moment of a stillborn’s birth. It takes time, during which you try to go back to a normal life – and fail. You can’t go back to the life you had, to the person you were. You’re missing something. I’m missing something. My daughter should be here with me. She’s not.

It took me three months to accept that: she should be here but she’s not. All through November and December, I expected to feel better, to somehow feel less. The opposite happened. With each passing day, I become more aware of what I have lost. It’s not until the time has passed – not until the milestone has been reached – that I realize what I’m truly missing.

Lauren would be three months old today. She would no longer be a newborn but an honest-to-goodness infant. Her personality would be exerting itself, and I cannot help but wonder: would she be a stubborn child like myself, or more easygoing like her father? Her eyes would be maturing so she could see faces clearer – would she be able to recognize our faces? She would become more vocal, and I would probably begin signing with her, even though it might be at least a month before she really responds. She would be on her way to becoming more mobile. And she would be smiling. I imagine her as a happy baby.

Three months ago, these daydreams were impossible. I couldn’t imagine Lauren without bursting into tears. Today, they hurt me still, and the tears do come. But I also find comfort in these daydreams. I am safe in the memory of my daughter. During the worst times, I close my eyes and go inside myself, to the place in my heart where Lauren resides. It hurts to know that I can hold her and sing to her there when she is gone from my reality, but it is also comforting. As long as she is there, I will remember her. She won’t be forgotten or left behind. When I need her, I will always be able to find her.

And these daydreams bring me hope. Someday, there will be a baby that will make it to these milestones – and beyond. Someday, there will a baby smiling up at me, laughing at my voice, trying to play with me. And I’ll love each moment of it, each precious moment my child gives to me.

My dear, sweet Lauren. Three months ago, you died, and I birthed you. Today, your absence hurts as much as it did then. I miss you every day. My arms ache to hold you. I want all the troubles you might bring to me, the teething and the diapering and the sleepless nights. I want them because they would be proof of your life. But I can’t have you, and so, I must console myself with your memory. You are in my thoughts today, my daughter. I love you.