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
Each year when the topic of family comes up I share our family photo from the Run for Their Lives 5k run. I love that image as it captures the growth of our family and the honor of seeing Clara with us. I will always cherish those pictures. Today I want to share something that weighs on my heart as I watch our family interact with each other.
You can see in the picture I chose today, Lincoln is holding hands with the angel. In many ways our family is split. We have big boys – little kids, boys – girls, and we have pairs. Well, we should have pairs. I often see how well my kids interact while in pairs. Damon and Mason are best friends and Haleigh and Preston are too. Along the way Lincoln is missing his partner. He journeys through so much and yet he can’t physically hold his parter in crime’s hand.
He talks of Clara often though. He can pick her smiling face out of a group of pictures. He asks about her life and passing. He says, “I can’t have that. I am allergic to peanuts and I am not ready to visit my sister in Heaven yet. My mom and dad would be sad.”.
He was the first one of the kids to want to hold the angels hand at the park. He said that it reminded him of his sister. It reminds me that while we aren’t holding her hand in real life, she is there, in our hearts, forever. Our family will never feel complete on earth. People will forget she was here. Our favorite family images will always be the ones that happen to show Clara’s life whether capturing it was planned or unplanned.
Visit my previous blog post about feeling someone in Heaven.
Lincoln holding his partner’s hands.
Cousins showing our missing little lady.
Family photo 2015
Family Photo 2014
Family photo 2013
Family Photo 2012
Family photo 2011
Day #18: Family Portrait
I have been looking forward to sharing today’s image the whole month!
Every year since we lost Clara we have brought the kids to the SIDS run in Sioux Falls, SD to walk in her memory. Two years ago I realized we really didn’t have any pictures from the event and wanted to find a special way for us and especially the boys to remember it by. So began our “yearly family photo” sessions. It keeps the boys entertained by building excitement until we find her picture along the 5K route. These pictures also leave us with a firm belief that we are not leaving her behind by growing our family, we continue to try to include her and remember her throughout the year. This picture is proudly displayed in the living room each year.
Family Portrait 2012
I always have to giggle when I see our 2012 picture because the boys look so happy. This year her picture was quite a ways into the walk and because of the wind we had to search for it. I also love that Preston is not paying any attention to the camera because he is too busy looking at his sister.
Family Portrait 2011
Here is our 2011 Family Portrait. The weather was perfect for walking and picture taking. There were quite a few runners coming by so we had a tough time getting the kids to look at the camera. Thank yous to Innovative Systems for sponsoring Clara’s picture along the walk each year!