It’s been five years since I’ve seen you. Since I’ve held you. Heard you say Mama, Mommy, Brannon, Daddy, Shishard or Memo. Since I heard you ask for a Thomas the train toy or seen you dance in the back seat to “Love on Top”. Five long years since you ran to the door to greet Barney. Or wake TeeTee Erika up while she was trying to sleep. Or punked me when it was time to go to your God-Mommy Lynn’s house by crying until you got five inches down the street then laughing like you were going to Disneyland. It’s been 1,825 days since you kicked me while we were sleeping or cried when Granny tried to comb your hair. I haven’t had one of your wet kisses in 43,800 hours. But I’ve missed everything about you in the 15,678,000 seconds that you’ve been gone. I’ve felt your absence and I haven’t been the same since. I’ve come to realize that I will never be. Not having you here has changed everything for me. (here come the tears I was trying to keep at bay…)
When I was pregnant with you, I knew you were special. I knew you were a mess when I had to walk around with an IV because you wouldn’t let me eat or drink anything. I was off from work my entire pregnancy. Now I realize that we were developing a deep bond. When I found out you were a girl, the name Chance immediately came to me. People tried so hard to talk me out of naming you that. But the name stuck with me. I relented and put Sydney as the first name. When I saw you, I knew I made the right decision. I wouldn’t realize until later what “Chance” really meant.
You came into this world with so much personality. I knew that you would give Brandon and I a run for our money. While, he wasn’t that excited to know that you weren’t going back to the hospital when you came home, his words were, “When is that baby going back?” In time you two developed a bond that was so unique and strong. He talks about you everyday now. And he finds a piece of you in everything. When you left, some of him did too. It’s so obvious. He doesn’t laugh as hard. Or smile as much as he did when you were here. We try to spoil him with all the love and attention that we can but he misses you. You are his sister and your energy and spunk gave him spunk and energy. He will be fine though. We will all make sure of it. So don’t worry about your big brother. He’s going to grow up and invent something that will make you very proud.
Mommy still can’t watch a video of you. It’s weird to me because most of the videos we made have you saying her name in them. It’s been hard on her. She tries so hard to be strong for all of us Chance. We sometimes forget that she has emotions and feelings too. She loves you like she birthed you. And I know you knew that. She made it apparent in the way she cared for you. Like, when we went into TJ Maxx and you wanted these sippy cups and the princess costume. I said no but Mommy made sure you had it. And when we got home, you had to put it on. Whatever you wanted, she made sure you had it. I can’t wait for the day that she will actually be able to sit and watch a video of you with me. I know it will make her sad at first but I know that sadness will dissipate when she can see your love for her.
And Daddy misses you too. I’m so glad I was able to record you two washing the truck. Or you saying his name. The Christmas videos we have are you are in his possession and I know that he watches them on his own. I think he’s still mad about that yogurt you half ate of his. Lol! He allows me to call and cry when I’m having a bad day because I’m missing you. I’m sure he would have had you bowling or fishing by now.
Shisard(Darrick) and Memo, I can’t even describe the way they feel. Darrick honors you in everything he does. He’s really coming into his own. He took pictures a couple of months ago and he saw this butterfly mural and he took the most beautiful picture in front of it. The first thing he said is, “I have to take this for Chance”. I cried of course. The ABC’s will never be the same for me. Darrick sang it to you so beautifully. And Memo, he had a tree planted in your honor in Osceola. His school had an entire ceremony, just for you. His wife Tassha even carried your picture around her wedding bouquet. Memo, has pictures of you everywhere. And I watch the video of you all often when you were in the hot tub and the Embassy Suites. You all were having so much fun like you always did. I’m almost sure that we will have a baby named after you at some point. They love you that much.
TeeTee Erika misses you. That woman will call me out of the blue and just tell me about things you two did that I never knew about. She has a video of you eating a cupcake when she let you skip daycare one day. And I have so many videos of you and her arguing back and forth that keep me laughing. She loves you so much that her son Scatman knows you. He never even met you. That’s unconditional love right there.
Your God-Mommy Lynn would have had you all over the country by now. She loves you so much that you’re an honorary Girl Scout. People from all over the country bought cookies in your name. She still has you as her cover picture on Facebook. She misses you too. And again, she has shared many pictures of you that I never saw. You punked her and her family too. They miss their “Candy”.
Your spirit is always around Granny/Aunt Linda It’s nothing for her to call me and tell me about a butterfly that came up to her in the dead of winter. Or when she’s in her yard doing lawn work how you will send her a breeze to cool her off. She has a wall for you in her house. And every Christmas, your tree is put out before any other tree at her house. Paw Paw has a hard time talking about you but he wore a wristband for almost three years from your walk everyday until it broke. He actually never took it off. They miss you.
Poor Barney. You left this earth on his birthday. I have pictures of you sitting in his lap watching cartoons. And I remember how you would run to the door and say his name whenever he would come into the house. He was the best father figure for you. I think you had his heart before I did. The bond you two formed will never be broken. He misses you more than anyone will ever realize.
You have a host of family and friends who have lots of great memories with you. People all over the world know you. You’ve saved so many children, Chance. So many. That’s why, no matter how hard it is, I tell your story. I don’t turn down any interviews or articles that people ask me to do. I have to keep going. And I won’t pretend like I don’t have bad days. I’ve had plenty of them since you’ve been gone. But I always get a push from you to keep going. And I try everyday.
I ask myself often, “Why did God take my baby?” I’ve asked other people to ask Him for me, because I didn’t think he heard me. I felt like you didn’t do anything wrong that it must have been something that I did to make you have to leave. I wonder what I did. For five years I’ve asked myself what I’m supposed to do now. You are my baby. I carried you for nine months. You were so beautiful. I wonder if you knew that I loved you? I did. I love you so much. I held you when you were born and I held you when you took your last breath. I hope you knew that I was the best mother to you that I knew how to be. I had so many plans for you. But God had other plans. His plans are always best even when we don’t understand them.
Five years since I’ve lost my baby. What’s going to happen to me? I don’t know but I know that losing you is something I’ll never get over. I’ll just continue to learn how to deal with it.
Just remember the last song I sang to you. “Chance it’s you. You’re the one I love. You’re the one I need. You’re the only one I see. Baby, its you. You’re the one that gives your all. You’re the one I always call. When I need you baby everything stops. Finally, you put my love on top”
I love you Sydney Chance Bowles. Save us all a seat in heaven with you. I can’t wait until we’re all together again.