It is 11:12pm on 11/29/2015. There are 48 minutes left until her birthday.
I am sitting in the nursery that I have worked on the last few months preparing for my daughter who is due to be born in a few short months.
But tonight I am thinking about another little girl I gave my heart to one year ago today. I want so badly to type her name here. To tell you the name we gave “our” little girl. To tell you that her middle name was my Grandma’s name. I want to say her name out loud to remind myself and anyone listening that she was once a part of our family.
But she isn’t mine anymore. And it doesn’t feel right to say it out loud.
I should be sleeping. Tomorrow is Monday and the day won’t stop just because it marks a year since our hearts broke in half. I will have to drive Jack to preschool. I will have to do my work and focus on my job.
But tonight, in the stillness….in the room that was once hers, I need to stop. I need to think about her and what she meant to me.
Oh sweet baby…happy birthday. Although you will never call me mama and I will never tuck you in at night, I want you to know how loved you were….are. We prayed for you. We wanted you. I rocked you in this very room. I dreamed big dreams and whispered quiet prayers over your life. Your “daddy’ sang you the most beautiful lullabies and your “big brother” was so excited to have his very own little sister.
I remember this night a year ago. Right now, I was sleeping with my phone ringer turned up LOUD. We were waiting to get the call that you were coming. And in the early morning, my phone rang and we were on our way as fast as we could.
I remember the moment I saw you…your head full of dark hair and the sweetest little face. It was amazing how everything could change so quickly. In one moment, everything was different. We had a baby girl. I just couldn’t believe it.
And I remember your first few weeks of your life. I remember how we adjusted to being a family of four and how we happily traded our nights of sound sleep to feed and care for you.
I remember giving my heart to you….trying desperately to believe that you were ours forever and that this wasn’t another tease before heartbreak.
And I remember when you were gone.
There is another anniversary looming on the calendar.
The day we lost you.
After the dust settled and she was gone, I kept trying to put words to my grief. Ours was such an unfamiliar and lonely type of grief. There were signs of a death all around our house after she was gone. A pink sleeper on the chair without a baby to wear it. A swing that had no more use. The crib where she slept- now empty. And a big brother asking where his baby sister went.
And yet, she didn’t die. She was somewhere else being cared for by the woman who gave her life…her mother. Was I allowed to grieve? I had lost a child, but there wasn’t a ceremony fitting for this occasion, No funeral. No special service.
Just a brokenhearted mama,…crying over the one that she lost.
A good friend wrote us a card that said “We love your family of three, wishing it was four.” I will never forget it because it was true. There had been 4. We named a little girl, brought her home from the hospital, took care of her during sleepless nights- and for 20, days we were a family of four.
And then we weren’t.
So the best way that I came up with to describe my grief was… glitter.
When you have a moment like when she was born- or, really, any happy beginning (a proposal, a wedding, a positive pregnancy test, and a million other moments like these), I imagine that you are holding a fistful of glitter. When the moment happens, you throw that glitter at the rest of your life. The glitter lands in all sorts of places.
Glitter is like that, you know. It gets EVERYWHERE.
For me , the glitter landed at dance recitals, braiding hair, princess parties, shopping trips, pink things, ruffles, having another cousin in the gang, sibling fun with Jack, conversations during the teens years, being best friends as adults, and to be honest- it landed in places I didn’t even know about yet.
So friends, as I grieved and you have grieved your losses….the day might have been going well.
We might have gotten up determined to fight the dark cloud of loss that seems to seep into Every. Single. Thing. We might have actually put on regular clothes or dared to put on some makeup. We might have conquered some personal goal- said no to that unnecessary glass of wine last night or comfort food that makes us just feel more miserable in the end.
We might have started the day with all the best intentions.
But then we found some glitter.
That stupid glitter.
You might have found it in the baby aisle at Target or during a conversation with a friend. Or you might have seen it as you lived out a day on the calendar that you imagined would be so very different when you threw that glitter.
Just like I am doing today (is is past midnight now…)
A due date. A birthday. An anniversary.
It is an awful feeling when you find that glitter. It honestly feels more like a tiny piece of salt to rub in a gaping wound. It happened to me one day shortly after we lost her. This innocent person asked me, “How many kids do you have?”
I replied, “One.”
(knowing there was once a “two.” )
But something so shiny, so bright, and so out of the ordinary must have come from somewhere beautiful. That moment when I met her the first time one year ago today and all the days we loved on our girl WAS beauty. We DID find it. And we have the glitter to prove it.
And isn’t the glitter just proof that we loved and lost?
I have learned so much about the human spirit and the way God created us. Oh how we yearn to love. And when we love, we can’t help but hope for our future. Without hope and love, we perish. These two things are in our very make-up- in our genes and in our souls. It is as if we almost can’t stop the ceremonial glitter throw.
I struggle with wanting to label that girl from a year ago a fool because she lost in the end. But, if I really think about the person I want to be, I don’t want to be the one that clutches that glitter refusing to throw it. I don’t want the price of loving and losing to rob me of one of God’s greatest gifts.
What a loss my world would be without all that color.
When my face is filled with wrinkles and the memories of a lifetime, I very much hope that I haven’t decided that love wasn’t worth the fight. I hope I would tell you that I learned how to find beauty in broken things, or at least how to let go of the beautiful ones when they weren’t mine to keep.
I hope I will tell you that I know a God who did the same for me. He went all in for me, with reckless abandon. He played the fool for everyone to see, to the point of death, because He believed love was worth the fight. I hope I can tell you with a glimmer in my eyes all the times He restored what was lost, and brought redemption in the blackest of nights. And I very much hope I can tell you that I am not a victim or that I am bitter, although that was certainly the easier road.
So we walk on, friends. Keep throwing your glitter in the wind. Let it land in wedding chapels, princess parties, growing old together, at the table surrounded with friends, on Christmas morning with the family, and on the finish line.
Love with abandon and learn to lose gracefully.
Despite how we feel, let’s continue to trust He has a plan with our broken pieces, grains of stingy salt, and…
all that shiny glitter.