Happy Birthday Sweetie.
This has been a long year. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t thought of you. I’ll see something pink or purple, a bunny, a baby. I’ll be talking to a patient who is going through their own grief or is pregnant. You are always close to the top of my mind.
Because you’ve been so important to me, I’ve changed. I didn’t expect this.
You see, the work I do has made my heart cold and closed. I’ve stopped believing in good in the world because I keep seeing the worst of people. I truly stopped believing in love. To me, it was a lot of hype for something that just doesn’t exist.
But Bridget, I’ve loved you since I knew you existed. You melted my heart by making your mother and father glow. I knew that you were going to do great things in your life. I just didn’t know that you were going to do so much so quickly or that your life was going to be so short. My heart has felt broken since I found out that you and I were never going to meet, and it breaks again day after day. I wasn’t able to cry for years because my heart had hidden in a cave to protect itself, but since I saw the photo of your beautiful face I am crying rivers. The pain has made me so very angry, but has also helped my heart to open up to other people. The love that you’ve showed me actually exists is being shared. You’ve made me a better person and a better doctor.
I am still so angry, and I know that this is because I have been completely helpless in making it possible for you to be here to celebrate this birthday, I’m helpless in easing your parents’ pain. I feel like medicine has failed me. I feel like I have failed you and your mother. One of the biggest reasons I decided to become a doctor was so that I could keep my family safe and well. I feel so ashamed that I couldn’t protect you. That shame has kept me hiding, because that’s what shame does.
I love you Bridget.
Your imperfect auntie who is working on being a better person.
(this was written on Bridget's first birthday in 2018)