The holiday weekend has officially come to an end and I'm wishing to remain in denial about it. There was something special about this 4th of July. The simplicity of it all, the gathering of friends. The extreme amount of love that I felt for my kids, our new home, the man that I love, this country, our God. It was all very overwhelming in the best of ways during these three days.
Things have been so good lately, leaving very little to write about, at least in the way of my emotions. This weekend was a testament to that. I have been surrounded by such close, loving friends over the last several months and I feel the richness of life overtaking me. I have eaten such good food, been wrapped in such loving arms that I have almost forgotten the heaviness that once overshadowed everything else.
This weekend we celebrated country.
We did all of the very traditional American things like grilling out, fireworks, sparklers, soccer, softball and ice cream.
I watched as my children ran through our open field, laughing, and I thanked God for allowing it all to be just how it is. My idea of life, love, and family; the things that I prayed for, yearned after, and sought out my entire life have been fulfilled. It isn't all exactly how I pictured it but truly I could have never dreamed that it would be this good.
Over the last couple of weeks we have been lucky enough to spend time with Crissy and Aubrey. They are here visiting from Utah. These girls are so incredibly beautiful and strong. They lost their sweet Connor to an unknown disease just 6 months ago and yet their bravery and grace is palpable. Crissy, my sweetest heart friend, misses her boy incredibly and I know that the trip to Illinois was both wonderful and extremely difficult, being that she couldn't visit Connor's special place while being here. Just being across the yard from her made me feel good. Just seeing her hold Mabel helped me know she felt comfort which brought the same to me.
Being with her and Aubrey was a beautiful gift this weekend and I am thankful that seeing her helped me re-focus. Helped me remember that these days with Mabel; the ability to hold her, celebrate life with her, kiss her, smell her, touch her, love her physical body--those things are essential, for they are fleeting and I will not have that ability forever.
I cannot remember the last time that I had a bad day. I looked around my yard and saw friends laughing, people enjoying life, and I was present.
I am truly here; happy, vibrant, young and free.
Unfortunately, my children haven't reached such an internal space just yet. And I am realizing now, more than ever, that they may never get there. It saddens me to know that they have already endured such deep loss and pain that has changed them but I am also grateful for the ability to take what has happened in their lives and hopefully use it to strengthen them as individuals. I am so in awe of their character and their ability to articulate their feelings. Their response to life is very mature and poised. Nora, especially, has struggled this weekend but she also found a balance in the beauty that is in her current life.
She is learning, at a much younger age than most, that life is often disappointing and not how we had planned but that it can also be sprinkled with a whole lot of wonderful, surprising, goodness.
I look at the faces of my friends and people who I love and I see stories that most couldn't even comprehend, let alone live through. I see the face of a young mother who lost her son and whose arms ache with emptiness hold my baby, my precious gift and I see her feel genuine happiness.
I asked her if she was able to truly feel joy in these days since losing Connor, out of my own fear and insecurity about the future. She answered, quite simply, "Yes, I feel joy."
And I was reminded that our God provides an oil of joy for mourning.
He's a good God.
I looked at the faces of sweet, beautiful little girls.
Both who have had vital loss in the role of parents, one who has lost a sibling and one who is inevitably going to...
and I saw joy.
Unspeakable, innocent, beautiful, tangible joy.
Their little lives have been and will continue to be heavy and yet they exude a lightness; a freedom.
I spent the weekend looking into the eyes of a man who loves me genuinely and in a way that I have never quite experienced. I don't know how I'll ever thank God enough for the timing of my life and the perpetual goodness that He has given me but what I do know is I have never felt less alone. I feel so, incredibly lucky and just so happy.
Every holiday is tender for my heart. It's as if the question that lingers daily comes out to play a little more vividly on days that have a title.
"Will this be my last ... with my daughter?"
But even though the thought crossed my mind vaguely over the weekend, I realized that for the first time it didn't consume me. It came, and it passed.
Because truly, if this was my last 4th of July with Mabel in my arms, it was a beautiful one and I'll forever be thankful for it.
I'll forever be thankful for every day.
They are such a gift; a gift that I get to spend with amazing people who are my family. They wrap me in such strength, encourage my dignity and give me hope. We are in this life together and that is the most amazing feeling. I am so grateful to God for the gift of life.
For the first time, in a very long time, I feel like I have truly been living it to the fullest.
For the next week or so I plan to post photos from the phone each day as a summer catch up.
Here's to a happy July!