Who Would She Be…

How am I old enough to have an 11 year old? I’m way too young to have a pre-teen in the house, right? It’s hard to believe that she would be going into middle school next year. That can’t be right.

At a Super Bowl party, we found ourselves at a house that was celebrating an 11th birthday. Their daughter was a friend of Isabella’s and she was as tall as me. I found myself looking at her and thinking, would Isabella have been that tall? Every time I’m around Isabella’s friends I catch myself asking so many questions to the parents.

“What kind of things is she into?”

“What kind of music does she like?”

“Is she into boys yet?”

“Are her hormones kicking in?”


I must sound so interested in their child, but the truth is… I’m just interested in mine. Even this morning I found myself Googling, “What are 11 year old girls into?”. I’m sure this put me on a flagged list with the Government, but really I just want to know.

Grant looks like Stuart. Sophia is a weird mix of us both. But, Isabella would have been me. I crave a vision of what she would look like next to me. Our brown hair would match (if I was currently a brunette), our noses and ears would match – all the way down to our tiny skinny fingers. A mini me if you will, but 24 years younger. Would we fight like cats and dogs, but still enjoy kitchen dance parties when no one was looking? Would we get our nails done together and talk about the drama of her girlfriends or what boy she likes? Would I tell her that she is not going to school looking that way? I’m sure we would have the clothing fights. Would she be smart? Would she be pretty? Would she be wearing braces right now? I will never know.

All I want is answers. I go to bed praying that my 11 year-old daughter will come to me and give me the answers I crave. But instead, I still have nightmares. Just a couple of weeks ago I woke up sobbing. I finally was granted a dream about her, but in my dream she and I were laying in a hospital bed. We were being pushed up and down toy aisles. She laid there on my chest and looked at all the toys that she couldn’t play with. We went up and down each aisle until we came to a room that had a beautiful bed in it. My aunts were making the bed for us. It was the bed we were going to move to where she would die. I was sobbing so loudly that I woke Stuart next to me that night. These are the only times she gets to be in my life – and they are nightmares.

I should be fighting with her in my kitchen, or taking her shopping to buy her the latest cool pair of shoes. I should be driving her and her friends to the movies and listening to them sing at the top of their lungs. I’m sure she would be on her phone constantly and I would lose sleep at night hoping she is not on SnapChat with some boy. But none of this is happening in my life.

My days are filled with chasing Sophia around or watching Grant and his buddies throw the football around the yard. I’m engulfed in the Foundation because it’s my only connection to her that isn’t in the form of nightmares. It’s become my life’s mission to carry her on through the Foundation and hope that what we do has an impact that may even remotely come close to the impact she would have made in my life if she was still alive. My hope is that the work we are doing with the Foundation allows some other mother to fight with her daughter over what she is wearing or take her to get a mani/pedi on her 11th birthday.

Someone should be able to do it, even if it isn’t me

-Isabella’s Mommy

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IMG_1110Isabella Joanne Santos

March 9, 2005 – June 28, 2012

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