The school year is drawing to a close and all the hard and familiar feelings are in the air.
I can't possibly describe how proud I am of these kids, only that I say it day after day after day. They have endured the worst and have somehow managed to rise up and above to achieve incredible things, not only in school but in every way.
Two years ago as other kids were mindlessly enjoying their end-of-school field trips, inflatable days, movies and snacks, Nora and Braden were coming home to a sister who was literally starving to death. The day that she died fell on the last day of school that year. Nora stayed home for a day prior because she was just enough aware of what was happening that we felt like it was crucial for her to spend that time at home with her sister. Braden was just in 1st grade and he was so excited to go on his last field trip. Of course we let him and looking back, that was the right decision too. I am really grateful that even in the moments when I was battling for the care and comfort of my dying child, I was still able to do the same with my older kids. I met them right where they each needed me, made decisions for them both individually, and I still feel really proud that I can do that today.
This last week of May is so overwhelming in general. This year feels really different in a whole new way. I feel this incredible sense of gratitude for the school year and all that I've seen it do for Nora and Braden. Nora has changed and evolved into such a young lady (with a lot of mouth and sass,) and she has maintained straight A's all year [well every year, but especially in 5th grade, I find this impressive as the work load was on a whole new level!]
On Thursday she will receive the presidential award in a ceremony that I'm so looking forward to.
But shhh....it's a surprise!
She is still seeing a therapist (who she adores) and we've seen that be a really positive contribution to her routine.
Braden has also changed and grown this year in ways that I never could have imagined. The structure that the classroom brings to his mind and spirit has been key, along with a really great doctor who manages his medicine, moods and behavior. He also won an award for his grades this year but beyond academics, I am just so proud of Braden's heart. When you listen to him speak; with conviction and empathy far beyond his years, there is no doubt of the call that God has on his life.
Though I haven't spoke much of the specific dates or the memories that I have from this time 2 years ago, I haven't had to. Braden cried hard in the shower last night missing his sister and 'wishing she never had to go.' Nora will casually talk about how she missed the last day of school, how Mabel looked that day and even the way her breathing had changed. Last year the weather felt very similar to the year she died but this year it is unseasonably cool and in a way, I'm grateful. The days don't feel the same to me as they did then and that is helpful.
Though, I can feel the tumultuous tide inside of me.
My hair color has changed twice in a week, my nails are short again from biting and I'm doing the 'anxious yawn,' which we now know could be from ATP1a2 but we aren't certain. That seems to be the story of my ever changing life-
nothing is really certain.
Except for just one thing...
A Father God who loves me so unconditionally and never stops showing up in all the right ways at all the right times. He has led me from doctor to doctor to doctor, friend to friend to friend, teacher to teacher to teacher. He never ever stops guiding my steps and leading me exactly where I need to be. And, I suppose that like everything, God is always just how you choose to see Him. But I choose to know that He is good and faithful and totally unchanging.
This year I am helping out with Nora's softball team (more that anything, just so we can connect and stay connected through this hard pre-teen season for she and I). I have been to two field trips in the last couple of weeks. We are gearing up for our summer vacation to Michigan and the arrival of a new nephew/cousin. The days are familiar but also very different. The span of time from when I last held my baby until now is so very long and deep and vast that it's almost terrifying to think about. But also, the wind and the rain smell exactly like they did that May, just 2 years ago and in my spirit time stands still. I am right there with her and no time has passed at all. It's a strange and hard juxtaposition, indeed.
As the day draws near and I find myself reflecting on life with Mabel and our life without her, I feel an ache that I can't describe. Being able to articulate it would help, I believe, but I'm caught in the grasp of this monster that won't let the words match the feelings. In the belly of the beast of grief I find myself flailing, arms and legs uncontrolled-much like hers were all of her life. I am scattered and disoriented and frustrated and sad.
But also, still relieved for her.
Still totally and fully thankful that God rescued her from her own being.
Still at peace knowing that she was mine, I was hers and we will be reunited once again.
In the coming days, please think of our family. Please pray for Nora and Braden as they approach the last school days with hesitation and remembering. I know that as each year passes, people will become less aware or even less interested to the emotions and the memories that they associate to this time of their childhood, but for now, please don't let that happen. Please be mindful of all that may be crossing their minds throughout the day and how their little hearts may be affected. If we can surround them and uplift them, I know that they will be better for it.
Thank you for doing the same for all of us who loved Mabel so deeply.
I'm learning to really ride the waves of monumental days as they come and embrace them for what they are. A time to up-heave all that I've pushed down and release it so that I can further heal. So that I can continue to let love and forgiveness in. So that I can walk with an open spirit and mind.
As always, in honor of Mabel, please wear yellow on Monday, May 29th and spread love into the world by doing something kind for someone. And...just speak her name.
Share the story of her life and how it impacted your heart. Use the hashtag #mabelsable to share your photos of that day with us. Photos of any and all things yellow will make us feel the light that she continues to shine into this world!
As another year without her draws to an end, there are still so many new beginnings to feel grateful for. Hoping this summer will rejuvenate us once again and give us the strength to move forward with grace, compassion, kindness and courage JUST as our babe taught us to do...