Dear Orla, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I first wrote those two words, almost exactly twenty four hours after you were born. I woke at home and my eyes immediately fixed on the empty crib beside our bed. Empty. Empty crib, empty arms, empty belly. It’s a feeling that you can only truly know if you had been though loss. For a while, I wondered if this was just how it was when you had given birth; to go from feeling stretched and fit to burst, to utterly empty to the core. Empty within your bones. But I can confirm that it is not. Loss carves out something from within you that is more than the physical. It scoops away a part of your soul that you didn’t even know existed, let alone would miss so deeply.
Dear Orla. Two words that were written every single day from there on until your first birthday. The letters that followed were varied; some long and heartfelt, others brief but no less meaningful. They were words that I found grounding at a time when I felt as though my place within the real world had been compromised. Severed. Words that connected your dad and I to each other and to you, and created a story of your existence in the space that belonged to you, and you alone, even in your absence.