In two weeks, my daughter will have been dead for 4 years. 4 very short and painfully long years. Does that make any sense? I can't wrap my head around it. A 4th time to try and figure out a way to make this day mean something. To make this day more bearable than it is. Is it a celebration? For Grace, yes. 4 years since she could breathe, since she didn't have to be poked and in pain and the simple act of being alive on Earth wasn't torture. I can say all day how well she was doing at the end of her life, but then, I come across a video I shared on facebook and am reminded how heavy her breathing was, how much work, simply being alive was for her. She didn't deserve that. 4 years since she ran into the arms of Jesus. Since he held His hand out and said "come with me" and she did. She did. And my heart shattered. And my husband, my sweet husband who was so tightly wrapped around that amazing girls finger, from the second the ultrasound tech said "its a girl" fell to his knees and wept. 4 years since I looked at my 7 year old firstborn and watched his entire life change, in a second, and watched his innocent beautiful heart crumble as I said "Grace has gone to be with Jesus" That day and that night, every single moment of it, is still present in my mind as if it was yesterday. But it wasn't, it was 4 years ago.
It is interesting to me how each year feels different. Make no mistake, I am not saying it is getting easier as each year passes. it is just that each year, it feels different than the previous year. Some years, I have almost forgotten it was approaching. Some years, the lead up has been excruciating but the actual day has been ok. Some years the lead up says Im going to be able to get through this just fine, and then the day breaks me.
This years lead up, falls into the category of excruciating. I can tell however that I am growing in my journey because I can identify that. The sleepless nights have come, the crying after all is quiet. The searching for some way to prove she is here. The longing for someone, anyone to remember her. Remember that she was here. This year is different because this year, I am someone I haven't been before. I am the mother of a healthy, full of life daughter. For 9 months I have had the privilege of waking up each morning to Graces little sister. To the outside world, it would seem we are the parents to 4 boys and 1 little girl. But we aren't. We are the parents to 4 little boys and 2 little girls. Annabelle didn't make me a mom to a girl, Grace did. People say "how do you like having a girl now?' and I want to say, " as much as i liked having a girl 4 years ago" or ask "how do the boys like having a sister?" and I want to say "they have had a sister since March 2011."Or some say that they are so glad that we had a girl. As if, having another girl, makes Grace being dead, easier? Having another girl, makes Grace being dead harder mostly. I was pullling into my neighborhood earlier this summer and I glanced into my rearview mirror which reflects Annabelles mirror, because of the angle, all I could see were her eyes. Her eyes that she got right from her sister. The lump in my throat formed, breathing felt difficult as I remembered how badly I couldnt wait to pull into my neighborhood with Grace but I never got to.
I have made leaps and bounds in my grief and my happiness and joy and life, I can look back over the last 4 years and I can realize that where I am now, is quite different than where I was a year ago, 2 years ago, 3 years ago and definitely 4 years ago. Am I healing? I suppose that would be the correct word that Im supposed to use, but truthfully, at times, the pain is just as bad now as it was then. At times, the painful silence of one extra voice is crippling. When I am out with my kids, at a park or the pool and I glance around to count them, there is still always one missing and sometimes, it just tears me apart at times. There have been a few instances recently where I have been in the presence of girls who are the exact same age she should be, and her absence was I am sure, noted by nobody but me (even if the people knew about her) but it was absolutely crushing to me.
Sometimes I feel as though, people are probably tired of me, mentioning her, posting about her on facebook. People may wonder why I can't hide my feelings like many others, why I can't be more private about my grief. I know a great number of people who've lost children and maybe never mention them again, maybe they only do on their birthday or angelversary. That's what works for them. For me, I can't hide it. I can't hide it because I love her, I loved her from the moment I saw the second line on the pregnancy test and I will love her until I take my last breath. And, as much as I love her, I miss her. I miss every single thing about her, and every single thing that was to come about her. I will never stop missing her and I will never stop trying to live my life in a way that makes her proud and in a way that mimics the love she showed me. I still can't believe I've gone 4 years without her but I will keep reminding myself that I am 4 years closer to seeing her again.