“When I was a little girl, my mother used to sit me on her lap and embrace me. She would look up at me and ask, ‘Who lights up my world?’ before pummeling me with tender kisses. ‘I do! I do!’ I’d shout through giggles. When the love fest was over, she’d look me square in the eye and calmly add, ‘That’s right, baby.’ It’s something I’ll never forget.
I always knew it was a small tradition I wanted to pass on to a daughter of my own someday. And when my mother died of breast cancer, it meant that much more to me to keep her undying love alive. So, when I gave birth to a beautiful 8lbs 4 oz. baby girl only 3 years after her passing, I knew it was time.
When little Lucy was born, I looked into her beautiful black eyes and asked, ‘Who lights up my world?’ Of course, she couldn’t answer. Nonetheless, I showered her in gentle kisses, myself adding, ‘You do.’
When little Lucy was an infant, I’d ask, ‘Who lights up my world?’ Still, she couldn’t answer. Nonetheless, I kissed her cheeks, myself adding, ‘You do.’
When little Lucy was a toddler, I’d ask, ‘Who lights up my world?’ The kisses paraded. Eventually, one day, I heard her shout back, ‘Me!’ through giggles. It was true. She did, in fact, light up my world. She not only helped to fill a void that had formed after my best friend, my sweet mother, was gone, but she taught me to love even harder when I didn’t think it was possible. My heart just melted hearing her say it back for the first time.
Fast forward to age 5.5. Lucy’s hair was lush and black and fell beneath her shoulders. She was absolutely, stunningly beautiful. My goal in life was always to raise her to be the amazing woman my mother was – and she already was. She was sweet and gentle. Always offered her kindness and help when mommy was juggling a zillion things. I can still see her tear-glazed little eyes when mommy dropped her off at school for the first time. I can hear her deep-belly laughs whenever clumsy Dada tripped over something or made a silly faces.
Never in a million years could I have imagined she would leave this Earth as well.
It was a rainy night last April. Saturday. I was picking up some groceries in the evening and planning for my husband’s homemade birthday lunch the following day. You never expect it to be you.
At the intersection, the light flashed green. Still, I looked both ways before going. I saw a black Jeep heading towards me on my right, but assumed it would slow down. After all, why wouldn’t it? Their light was red. It did not. Instead, it slammed right into the back-right door, the one shielding my Lucy.
She didn’t scream. She didn’t even have time. The last ‘word’ I ever heard from her was a big, deep gasp. Her last breath. She was dead on impact. The car spun around and tipped over on its side. I was locked inside my seatbelt, I couldn’t get out. I screamed and screamed. Lucy was silent. ‘MY BABY. BABY, PLEASE. JUST OPEN YOUR EYES.’ I blacked out after that.
The next thing I saw was red and blue – police lights. My seat belt was cut, I was placed on a stretcher. Everything was hazy. They placed a white sheet over my baby. Next, white. I was in the hospital. Hearing the words, ‘I’m sorry, she did not make it,’ shattered my universe. Deep, guttural screams. Vomit. Swollen eyes. Pain. Inside and out. I lost my baby to drunk drivers. It was only 5:18 p.m.
It has been a year and a half since then. Two days ago, I went into my bathroom to cry once more. Every day, I still pray she will come back – realistic or not, I don’t care. The pain never gets easier. I cried into the mirror, and then I saw it. That little duck nightlight we’ve had since Lucy was born. It stopped working long ago, so it has not been lit for probably 3 years now.
I remember saying, ‘Baby, please give me a sign. I love you. I miss you. I need you.’ Silence. Then, from the corner of my eye, I see a flicker of light. It’s the duck. It’s illuminated with light for the first time in years. I’m in shock. Not grief shock, though. Not pain shock. Just peace. It flowed through me.
Through tears, I said, ‘You light up my word – you do, you do.’ Even in death, she is still my light. I know she is here with me, watching down from wherever she is. I cannot wait until the day I will see her and my mother again. I know I will.
And, finally, I am at peace.”
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