Happy 2010. A new year, a new decade, a chance to start fresh, a chance to renew your resolutions, a chance to follow your dreams...a chance for hope, and a chance for healing.
I've now celebrated the 3rd birthday of my miracle babies...the ones as I say that "weighed about as much as a pack of hamburger meat" (and not the family size package) when they were born. Each year I look back at the images of them each weighing about a pound and a half, so fragile in every sense we couldn't touch or even speak to them. To see my survivors now is to KNOW there is a God and to KNOW there is always hope no matter how dark or how bleak the circumstances.
Of course this also means I've celebrated another birthday without their sister, without the third little girl that is supposed to be blowing out candles, without my third daughter who should be squealing with delight after tearing open a beautifully wrapped package containing a new hand sewn baby doll, or her very own baking tools, or a trunk full of princess dress up clothes. I bought all three girls a card for Richard and I to write notes that maybe one day they'll open up again and read...the fact that Zoe's card is only read and only kept by us makes me sad. I know on some level she always knows what's in my heart and in my thoughts and I don't even really need to write it down for her, but writing it down helps. It helps me keep her included in her birthday, it helps me keep her alive in our family.
We've also spent another Christmas without her. I tried to think and think of something I could do to keep her an active part of our holiday and so I decided that each year she would give her sisters a personalized ornament. They can choose down the road to keep it for themselves or I can keep it as they grow older. This year's ornament was three cute snowmen sitting on a sleigh. I'm hopeful that this will be our new tradition and that it will be something they'll look forward too each Christmas morning..."what ornament will Zoe send from Heaven this year?"
I hope that little traditions like this will grow over time and become a way for us to keep Zoe ever present in our holidays and family celebrations. It is these small acts and gestures that bring me comfort in some small way each day. I still have my locket that I wear just about every day. I still light her oil candle every day. And I of course, I still miss her every single day. But I do believe I am learning to live with the loss. This loss that is at times incredulous to believe, I really do stop and look at her urn sometimes in disbelief that she is “in there.” It’s hard, even two years later, to wrap my mind around that. To know that she was here, and now she’s not. Avery and Lily’s portraits keep changing, but Zoe’s is forever frozen in time.
Each of my girls have gifts inside of them, special little nuances that they share with us, and insight into our world that is beyond my comprehension sometimes. They honestly leave me dumbfounded at the things they can understand and sequences they can put together, and they’re only three years old…and did I mention they only weighed a pound when they were born?
Zoe’s light continues to shine for people, especially through what has now become her signature ladybug icon. Friends and family tell me all the time about a random ladybug that will pop up in their home or in their car and they always tell me that seeing a ladybug makes them think of Zoe and makes them smile. So even from Heaven, two years after her death, Zoe is still making people smile and bringing a bit of joy to everyday life.
This morning I was playing “From the Inside Out” by Hillsong United, it was a song we sang at our old church that Richard and I both love. In fact my friend Alice had sent me a voice message from church on Sunday when they were singing it. She said as soon as they started singing she felt this instant connection to us and had to try and record it and send it to us.
Lily was in the living room fully engrossed in pushing her doll in it’s stroller and taking it to the grocery store. All of sudden, she dropped the stroller and walked into the kitchen, with her head tilted to one side and asked “What’s that I hear Mommy?”
“Oh, that’s just music I’m playing.”
She then says “from where?” “On my computer” I reply.
Then she says “Is Ayice there? And Miss Yisa?”
My jaw dropped…Alice our friend I mentioned above, went to church with us almost every Sunday and played the keyboards about once a month with the church band. Miss Yisa (Lisa) is the pastor’s wife. Did my 3 year old actually just connect the song she has not heard in at least 3 1/2 months to the two most important people at church besides Richard and I? Amazing, right?
Then there’s Avery who tells me “No Mommy, I do not yike ham and cheese. Actually I like chicken nuggets today.” Or she says, as we’re sitting outside during a recent sunny afternoon “Being outside is fun. It would be a wonderful day if Abby was outside too.” (Abby is our dog) Then she said to me “After our nap we could take Abby for a walk. That would be a great plan.” Did I mention Avery just turned three?
I had to laugh today when our new pediatrician asked if they were talking in paragraphs yet. I thought “Paragraphs? More like dissertations!”
They’ll start preschool in the fall, which I can hardly believe, so these are my last few months of having them at home with me every day. Yet another reminder to cherish each day, even when it seems these delightful little girls have been overtaken by some wild animal instinct!
I recently read a blog post by MckMama that has now become my daily mantra. She wrote about how when our kids grow up and leave our house and live their own lives, we’re going to miss precious moments like wrapping their wet little bodies in a towel after a bath and singing to them. She said, very simply, “I’m gonna miss this.”
So every time I start to feel myself getting antsy to get the girls in bed so I can go relax downstairs with Richard I now say “I’m gonna miss this” and it makes me slow down and enjoy the moment we’re in…because all to often it is fleeting. When Lily wants to run around crazy for “three more minutes” as she often tells me, I think “ok, sure, why not?” Or when Avery says to me “Let’s rock in the rocking chair” when I’m so tired and we’ve rocked three times already, now I say “I’m gonna miss this”. And it is so true. Soon enough Avery won’t ask me to rock in the rocking chair anymore. Or when they’re “helping” me cook and flour and sugar and milk are going everywhere…there is no point in getting upset about the mess…they’re learning, we’re having fun, it’s no big deal to clean up a little or even a big mess…because like MckMama said “I’m gonna miss this.”
And most importantly for me right now… when I miss Zoe, when I wish she was here, when I wish I could squeeze her tightly and tell her I love her…I can’t miss this life with Avery and Lily. I can weave Zoe into it in ways that feel right for us, but I can’t remain mired in my sadness at the expense of these rare and precious moments with Avery and Lily. I can’t afford to lose my life with these girls in addition to Zoe’s life that we have already lost.
Zoe wouldn’t want that, she wouldn’t want that at all.