” In my dreams you’re mine, In my life you’re my dream ” – Unknown
Last night I found myself running down a long hallway chasing after a dark curly-haired little girl. As I scooped her up and turned her around, I realized it was you. As I held on to you for dear life….squeezing you tight, and smothering you with kisses just as I used to do, my heart filled up with so much joy. For a brief second in time I could feel you….smell you again. For a moment all the pain was gone. You had been lost. You were found. Your death had just been a dream. I was relieved.
Then…my eyes opened.
Half disoriented from awakening so fast, confusion set in as I looked over and there was a baby lying there but it wasn’t you. A knot formed in my tummy as I realized that it had all been a dream. That I had indeed lost you and your death was still so very much my reality.
Realizing there was no one year old little girl here to chase, I picked up your baby brother lying beside me and held him close. I thought about this past week that had just went by. April the sixteenth had been your first birthday.
That morning I had woken up feeling the exact same way as I did this morning. Wishing that you were there to chase, to kiss, and to get covered in pink birthday cake icing. As I began to calm down…a sense of peace washed over me in the quiet and darkness of my bedroom. The very same peace that I had felt on the day you were placed in my arms. On the day that my arms were replaced for Jesus’s, and on the day of your first birthday.
The day of your birthday started off in anger. This was after all a date on my calendar that had been taunting me since your death…. and here we were. How was it fair that a day that was supposed to be a celebration, was now a day of missing something….someone that was never going to be here to celebrate with. Regardless of my anger I was determined to fight it….fight through it…..regardless of whether it felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest once again.
Then something happened. Your sister…totally innocent and with no hate for the day, but only love for you, asked me if we could still make you birthday pancakes. ( A tradition that we have done ever since her first birthday.) My anger and fear began to fade instantly as her question made me realize that this day wasn’t about the loss of your life…but the birth of it. It was the day that I had finally got to meet you. The day I had got to smell and kiss you. It was the beginning of our short but beautiful life together.
With each flip of pancake I smiled and remembered you. Your sisters, brother, and I gathered around the kitchen table…and in mismatched pajamas, covered in pancake syrup and sprinkles…we celebrated. Loving on you the only way we knew how. In an instant I knew I was going to make it through the day..not by ignoring the situation, or fighting through the pain…but by finding these beautiful moments being formed through it.
There were many hard moments about that day. Making your first birthday cake was a whole new experience than the others, knowing that your breath would never touch the candle flames and picking out first birthday balloons with a broken heart, while the cashier who had no idea happily took my order while mentioning about how exciting first birthdays were..only made the unfairness of it all seem that much more.
Regardless of the sadness, there continued to be so many beautiful moments in the heartache. A friend dropped by with a bouquet of purple and pink flowers with a big purple bow. As I noticed the color purple I immediately sensed you then and everyday since as they’ve set on my counter as a constant reminder of your life…and God’s love.
Later that evening, as family gathered in our home, and my phone filled up with messages it was overwhelming to see how many lives you had touched in two and a half months and even in your death. We all drove to the ocean to release balloons for you, and I felt God’s presence as your Daddy and I let go of the strings from our hands. Tears were shed and you were remembered. In the stillness and quiet….with nothing but the sound of the wind and water splashing below. In the desperateness for you, I became thankful and so proud.
See, I may have never got to experience the pride a mother feels as she watches her toddler take her very first steps across the floor, or as she watches her daughter prance across the stage at her first dance recital, but I do get to be proud of the lives you have changed….of my life that you have changed. I get to be proud that your life has brought people to believe, to find strength, and to find hope. You sweetie….even in your death have impacted so many lives in the course of a year.
You are not lost. We are. I was. I do not need to chase you because I know where you are. My selfishness of wanting you with me may sometimes get in the way of God’s plan, but I know that you are found safely in his arms and that he too is saying good work my child.
You Audrey were amazing. Your life was amazing and continues to be. I feel so thankful and blessed….even unworthy in some ways to be your mommy.
Happy Birthday sweet girl. Know that as the years continue to pass by, you will continue to be remembered, desperately missed, and so very loved. But…also know that with your life, and our God..you my dear have left a legacy of love and hope. A legacy that I continue to celebrate not just once a year, but everyday of my entire life until I have the chance to kiss, smell, and hold you once again.
Until then, I will continue to see you in my dreams.