For eight years we have had a yearly tradition of participating in a yearly walk/run in memory of babies lost too soon to SIDS. Our “Pink Lemonade” team has been there since the run’s first year. Our tradition each year was to take our family picture with Clara’s sign. It was a way for us to see how our family changed each year and a significant way to include Clara in that growth. I always feared we would someday miss this event. This year we experienced that loss.
Infant loss is filled with so many “firsts” but this one is hard to put words to. It is the first time we put Clara’s memory behind us in favor of other events. It is surreal to know that the very last thing we held onto from South Dakota (and Clara’s past) is behind us (at least for this year). Instead of spending the weekend with family and friends, we spent it at a pool with family and friends. We missed out on our family picture and our yearly t-shirt swag. We missed out of the balloon release and the kind words of remembrance. We missed out on connecting with other SIDS families and we missed out on spending a day to just remember Clara.
And yet, we spent Saturday celebrating Clara’s rainbow. This weekend we celebrated her brother’s first swim meet. We saw the smile of a little guy who has overcome so much! The tiniest swimmer there who never hesitated to get on the starting blocks that stand as tall as his shoulders. He sat with the big swimmers and listened to their advice. We left with a different t-shirt. One with Link’s name on it. We got to cheer on this kid, yet it was different.
It is hard to look back and know you have to choose between your living child and your child in Heaven. Walking around the pool today, I couldn’t help but notice the little girls trying to their hair under their caps and their goggles set. It was one of Link’s teammates first meets too. This little 8-year-old girl grabbed me by the hand and asked me if I could tell her when it was time to go line up. It gave me a glimpse into what a swim experience might have been like if Clara was here today. I so wanted to take a little selfie with that girl!! That simple, brief moment meant a lot to me.
As I look back on the weekend, I have to say thank you to everyone who made it special. Thank you to Kevin and Tracee for walking in Clara’s memory for us!! Your pictures left me in tears on the pool deck. Thank you to Brianne Edwards for keeping Clara’s sign and memory at the run even when we can’t make it. Thank you to the Iowa City Eels for being such a wonderful family too. Finally, thank you to everyone who thought of Clara this weekend. <3