My travels last weekend brought me through another five hours alone with four kids in the car. By the time we got back home, let’s just say I was exhausted, drained, and tempted to sell my little monsters to the troll under the next bridge. How can such beautiful blessings pick on your last nerve sometimes? Well with the screaming, whining, pinching, teasing, and Cheerios flying through the air… it happens!
We had a good few days on our travels, making it to the beach for the first day. Of course I told the kids not to get soaking wet in the ocean before dinner, only get wet to their knees. Well, I should have known. That worked for about a minute and before I could stop them they were rolling in the sand and water, completely drenched and laughing loudly. The smiles were priceless. How could I ruin the fun?
The next day we traveled on to our nieces wedding. On our way there we had the privilege of stopping by the annual picnic held by The Compassionate Friends, the same group we started with so many years ago. Seeing these familiar faces was heartwarming. It was fun going down memory lane and seeing how our lives have changed so much since we first met them. These people understood. They did not judge us that day we walked into our first meeting engulfed in sorrow and deep grief, barely able to speak our daughter’s name. They have seen us at our darkest and worst times and also at our best. We were so thankful to reunite with them and talk about our children with those who are also along this journey.
A favorite part of these gatherings are the balloon releases, especially for the kids. It touched me deeply to see my boys writing on balloons sweet messages for their sister. And after the balloons were let go…my oldest succumbed to the emotions, hugging me and burying his head in my shirt, tears flowing freely as he said, “I really miss Lydia.”
Needless to say, it broke my heart again, tearing open those wounds that time had patched together. Seeing your child feel the pain of grief is so incredibly difficult. Brings tears to my eyes just talking about it. I so wish I could take his pain away. Yet it was a beautiful moment and expression of love.
After the picnic we headed to the wedding, our spirits full of memories and eager to witness such a magnificent union. The grassy field made a perfect setting for such an event. Simple and colorful, not too hot, calm and peaceful. In the barn as we walked to find some water to quench our thirst, my husband and I came across a table.
Catching me off guard, I was not expecting to see a picture of Lydia on that table that brought instant waterworks to my eyes and a lump in my throat. It meant the world to me that our sweet niece remembered her and wanted to honor her life in such a way. I felt grateful to be her mother, yet also experienced that profound ache that lives deep inside me rise quickly to the surface.
How had time gone by so quickly?
Today it has been seven years.
Seven LONG years since I have held you in my arms, smelled your sweet scent and looked into your big blue sparkling eyes.
How can that be?
Strange that it can seem like only yesterday we were shopping and enjoying our regular trips to Starbucks for hot chocolate and bagels.
And then it was all taken away in an instant. No more playing Barbie’s, no more arguing over the TV remote, no more painting our nails together, no more dress up, no more late night snuggles and sleepovers.
It’s not been easy. Even after all these years, when I slow down and look at your pictures, that deep love comes pouring out. That scar gets torn open bringing back the reminders of the brokenness and what I have missed.
I see a strawberry blonde little girl and stop to take a second glance thinking it might be you. I see a little girl wearing the same dress and it still brings me to tears.
Seven years of silent loneliness and deep penetrating heartache, envying those around me who have all their children…Yet, I was so thankful to be your mom and still am. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
You’d be twelve now……What I would give to hear your voice just one more time.
We went from a family of four down to three in a mere second….and then with the blessings from above, back to four, rapidly to five and then surprisingly six. But in reality, we are a family of seven. I am blessed beyond measure. Being the mom of five unique and boisterous children is completely awesome.
You have transformed my life in so many ways and opened my eyes to a world I could never imagine. I am older and wiser. It may sound strange, but being given this gift of grief and the excruciating pain has made me a better person. It made me real. Now, I am able to see with eyes of compassion deep into the soul, experiencing the real emotions in life knowing what is most important. I was living, but not really until I experienced the tragedy of my child dying. It revealed who I was deep inside, giving me a great appreciation for my faith, family, friends and the simple blessings of every day life.
Life is a gift. Every single day.
Forever in my heart.