I had trouble sleeping last night. It was something that Braden said a few days ago in passing that was suddenly ringing in my ears. He was excitedly talking about starting school (a huge, positive change from this time last year) and he said that next year Shawn would join him at the elementary school. In the moment, I happily agreed and told him how cool that would be, to be together.
Last night, though, as I lay in bed, I couldn't help but remember that Shawn and Mabel were born in the same year. My baby would be joining him in elementary school next year too, had she have been a healthy child. They were only two school years apart, in fact. It is seldom that I stop to think about it or that those reminders catch me off guard because I reckoned those losses in my heart long ago. But the beginning of the school year always makes me emotional and leaves me feeling strange in the hardest ways.
Summer is wrapping up and I'm incredibly sad to see it go. This summer has been sprinkled with the most beautiful memories. We have had quiet days and really late nights. We have swam and ate Popsicles and watched Millie learn so many new things. The kids have grown by several inches and the days have been really full, as has my heart.
This summer, for the first time in a long time, seemed to go by far too quickly and I'm sad to see it go.
Last summer is still such a blur.
It was fight or flight and pure survival. Every day was an emotional challenge for the kids and I. We filled the days with all sorts of activities but I am thankful for photos because without them I can't vividly remember what we did or how we got through it.
This year is so much different. I finally do feel like I've come out of the initial grief fog. Maybe even just enough to know how to help myself grieve better. To be fully present for the kids instead of just physically going through the motions; which don't get me wrong-was necessary. But now, I feel like we are all on a clearer page and are capable of helping one another at the root of our pain or the height of our joys. It's a really good feeling.
We kicked off summer with Mabel's heavenly anniversary celebration which was perfect and memorable. Throughout the summer we continued to celebrate many things including mother's day, Millie's 2nd birthday, father's day, the 4th of July, Mabel's birthday, Nora's birthday, Chris' most recent birthday, our engagement along with many other things that I'm sure I'm forgetting.
Last year, when the kids started school I felt really helpless. I had no schedule and nothing to fill the hours that would have otherwise been full of time alone with Mabel. I applied for a part time job, began working and did that until just a few weeks ago. I loved it and looking back, am really proud of myself for doing it. It was essential during a season when I so desperately needed a schedule to keep me functioning. It helped me get dressed, put on my make-up, interact in public, and ultimately, I believe, survive.
This morning, our summer break came to an end when my kitchen door opened and Millie walked through. For now, God has me back at home taking care of our village's littlest love during the week days. Nothing has brought me more joy in the past couple of months than being able to see her every day and watch her grow. She is learning something new all the time and it is an honor that I would be in a position to be able to not only help her mommy and daddy but to be able to spend my days with her.
I looked at Millie this morning and, as usual, felt overwhelmed by my love for her. Our heart is capable of stretching when we think it can't possibly stretch anymore. It grows, reshapes, takes new form. It is an incredible machine, our heart.
It's beautiful to me.
It's beautiful to me.
And this girl? So is she.
This morning I realized that in a couple of months she will be the same age that Mabel was when Chris began seeing her every day. I caught myself on the laundry room floor in tears, in awe of our God and this life. How thankful I am for every step that has led me right here, right now.
This summer, like every other, included some losses. Some really tough teaching moments for my kids. Some really heartbreaking choices by others that inevitably impacted them (and all of us.) But this summer also included really sweet moments of re connection and the realization that sometimes time changes nothing.
That can leave both a wonderful and bitter taste in our mouth, depending on the circumstances. But today, I bid farewell to summer with only really sweet feelings of consuming love.
My heart and life are so full.
My heart and life are so full.
Every day is always a chance to start something new, but this week really is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.
We look ahead with Thanksgiving. We are grateful to together and alive. Though the passing days are hard because they are a reminder of all the time spent without our babe, we are also filled with immense hope knowing that we are always one day closer to an eternity with her in Heaven.
So long, summer 2016.
You have been a beauty. One that I will always, always remember, no doubt.