Dear Hadley

By: Leslie Steele

Dear Hadley,

It’s been 19 months. 19 months ago we got to meet you and be amazed by you. We always knew you were special, incredible really, but meeting you just confirmed it.

Daddy and I switch off between imagining you as you would be here at this age and what life is really like for you now.

We have imagined you as a precious angel above but somehow, though, we think even an angelic you is still so “you.” Daddy and I joke that you wear a leather jacket and drive all around the clouds on your Harley. I love that image of you, my tough girl, and it always makes me smile. In the same way, we imagine life for us as if you were here. We look at our lives now, with your one month old brother, Hank, and we think about where we’ve been on our grief walk and where we’re going.

Hadley, we want you to know you are a part of our daily life. Never does a day end and we have not spoken about you.

You are our daughter and naturally, we speak of you often. I worry sometimes that as the days pass, you will slip further and further from me. That I’ll forget your scent, the way your soft skin felt, your precious tiny fingernails, and your flexed itty bitty feet. When I feel sad about it, Daddy reminds me that there’s no possible way I will forget a thing. We are made of the same stuff, dear girl, and as I am, so are you. I am so thankful we have so many of your pretty pictures. I still look at them often, but as the days and weeks have been crossed off the calendar, I have found that I see you less in your pictures and noticed how your spirit has jumped off the page and screen and I experience you more in other ways. I see you in beautiful experiences in nature (pink sunsets are a favorite), in Daddy’s warm touch and adorable laugh, and in your brother’s soft smile and knowing look. In the grace, care, and kindness of others. It is all just so very “you,” sweet Hadley.

We have felt your presence in so many ways over the past few months.

Once, about three weeks after you passed, I was home alone, looking at your pictures and the tears began to fall. I was devastated that your life was cut short and we would never get to watch you grow. I was in despair, and sinking into that awful question that still haunts me from time to time: “Why us?” Suddenly I felt you there, right there with me, and  instantly the tears dried, a smile came to my face, and I just knew you were safe. Not just safe, but happy and loved. You’ve also shown up to us in other ways.

Daddy and I decided a crown was your symbol after your favorite book, “Princess Baby.”

Now, sweet girl, we see crowns everywhere and always view them as a little wink from you. It seems that they always pop up whenever we’re talking about you or thinking of you. Also whenever Daddy or I are having a rough day, we give each other your special wink, “The Hadley Eye,” we’ve called it, and that reminds us to try and be as tough and strong as you are.

These months have been filled with all sorts of things: fun times, adventures, lessons learned, laughter, reflection, and hope. But through it all, you are missing from us. And that is so painful.

We will never “get over you,” Instead, we will learn to live and love and laugh with that missing piece. Around that hole in hearts, we are striving to honor your life and make something beautiful.

Hadley, I wish more than anything, that you were with us. Even in moments of joy, we feel the sting of your absence. We loved you before we knew you, we loved you in our short week together, we love you now and we always will.


Mommy and Daddy

Leslie SteeleAbout Leslie Steele

Leslie Steele is a mom, wife, and elementary teacher living in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband, AJ, and her baby son, Hank. Follow along with Leslie’s daily musings, as well as reflections on life as an Angel Mom with a Rainbow baby at Leslie’s blog, A Sunday Kinda Love, at

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