As I slumbered last night with my darling Kelsey snuggled up sleepily next to me in bed, I experience a dream I’d rather not have.
I was driving a circuitous route, not because I’d chosen to but because I wasn’t quite sure where I was going and had missed the turn.
As a result, I arrived late to my destination.
I walked in to an overly rowdy church and tried to make my way to the prayer room. As I stumbled over and past those in prayer and those who were loudly visiting, my friends and family who were already gathered there spoke out to me, “you going anywhere else first?”. As if to mock my late arrival.
Finally, I found a place to kneel and pray, as the pain washed over me anew, I was reminded that I can’t let the anniversary of loss ever walk quietly beside me. I must proclaim it out loud, for talking is how my grief is made bearable.
So, here I am… putting my thoughts, pain, and grief down in writing once again. Darling Xandria Jo, I haven’t forgotten you. I feel your loss every day, even when I try to not make a big deal of the anniversaries of your birth and death, my very essence is affected by them. The pain shows in my mood, in my lack of patience, and propensity to tears over silly things which I would normally allow to pass.
I know that today you are wrapped in the arms of Grandma in Heaven and I can feel her joy. I know that you live on, I see your eyes twinkle in Kelsey’s mischievous looks and I think you must have imparted your impish nature in her before she came to me on earth.
Two years marked your days on this earth and now seven years have you been with Jesus. The pain hasn’t lessened nor has the missing of you, but it has become more bearable. Life has gone on, forever changed by the presence of an angel girl and her passing.
I know there was a reason you visited my dream last night. I know that it wasn’t because I had forgotten you, for you know I haven’t. I could have let this anniversary pass along with the sands of time without writing here and verbally proclaiming my angst and the missing of you wouldn’t change.
I do know that whatever the reason you came to me while I slept, the burning tears upon my face were very real. I miss you darling girl. I miss the portraits that should be on the wall and the memories that should have been made. I miss the laughter and the touch of your hands.
My last memories of you are of a bubbly, giggly toddler running around playing outside with Kaylee and McKenzie, taking turns on the little slide… your curls would bounce and the sun would reflect the sparkle in your eyes. I should have known then you were only on loan from Heaven. I remember the delight at your second birthday as you sat on Grandpa’s lap. I remember you laying in the hospital, with machines breathing for you. I remember the anger and the pain. I remember wanting to scream at the Doctor that he was wrong, that you had a twitch and surely that meant there was some brain activity left. I remember you in a little casket, one of a size that should never be made. With your holiday clothes on and your favorite things gathered around you. I remember Kaylee’s little three year old voice proclaiming, “it looks like she’s sleeping”. I remember going shopping for a headstone along with your biological mother, knowing that I was only one of the three mothers in your short life, but knowing that I had been charged with your care and safe keeping and I had failed to protect you. I wasn’t responsible for your death, but the guilt I took upon me for allowing you to be in that place was insurmountable for years. If only… was the resounding phrase that permeated every aspect of my life for years after you were gone.
Now I know, that “if only” can’t be changed. I’ve learned to let go of the guilt, the super woman complex that if I’d been stronger, made better decisions, stood up to others… then you’d still be here today and our world wouldn’t have been forever altered. I wouldn’t just have protected your life, but I would have protected others whom I love. I’ve accepted that I couldn’t control the situation or circumstances and I’ve let go. It’s taken me seven years to write those words.
I haven’t forgotten, but I have let go of the blame. Missing you, my darling niece and daughter of my heart.