This topic has been weighing heavily on me. Gratitude is hard sometimes. Life has twists and turns and sometimes we are left in places where there is no perfect outcome, no happiness in either road.
I started off my grief journey expressing gratitude. That fateful day I was thankful that our doctor came in a said, “I am sorry. There is nothing else we can do.” followed by nothing else. Weird, right!?! We weren’t left with the choice to remove life support. That decision was already made for us. That guilt card was removed from our hand. I have never had to hear, “you didn’t pray hard enough” or that “you didn’t wait long enough for your miracle”. I never have to wonder what if. For that, I am grateful.
Gratitude often comes with an expectation of happiness. In the first weeks and months of grief, gratitude doesn’t equate happiness. It is merely finding something to hang your hat of hope on. I found it to be little things like a hug, a smile, remembering a good memory. I spent the first days and weeks taking time each day to find something to be thankful for. It was my way of coping and fighting the sadness.
As I have grown, I have found gratitude in many other things. Today gratitude is usually rolled with happiness but not always. We continue to do “thankful for” with the kids each night. We don’t try to see the good in each bad thing but rather a good thing in our day. Some situations have no silver lining. You can’t make one. What I can do is find a silver lining in my day. Sometimes I make it that hug the nurse gave me or the smile a stranger had. Other times I see it the connection I made with someone new or the soft bed I head home to. Gratitude isn’t alway easy and it isn’t always about happiness. Some days it helps me focus on something good when all I can see is the terrible, awful situation in front of me.
Today’s image is one of my youngest daughter Haleigh. She is wearing a very special dress. It is special because it was a gift from a friend who had no idea what she was giving me. This dress is the exact dress Clara wore when we laid her to rest. The only difference is the size. Haleigh has found this dress to be one of her favs. It is too small for her and yet she likes to play dress up with it. This is a picture from the day Haleigh surprised me by wearing it. Judging by the smile, you can tell she has not a clue how hard it was for me. She was PROUD to wear it! There is no silver lining here. It was sad and a punch in the gut to see her wearing it. The gratitude I found… that I found the courage to hug this lovely lady while she was wearing it.
Haleigh – Summer 2016
Clara – Easter 2009
Wednesday was the day!!
Haleigh is officially older than her sister was on earth. It is the last time we will reach this first milestone. We are so thankful to all those who prayed for our comfort during the past week. Look at the smile we captured on our special day!!!
We spent the day at family bible camp in Okoboji (http://www.okoboji.org/). We both agreed that while it was hard to leave Haleigh in the care of others it was equally hard hearing how much Haleigh looked like a doll with her beautiful skin and pretty smile. That was a comment often said as people passed Clara’s body at the wake and funeral and rightfully so, she did look just like a doll in the casket. So we both decided that was probably the hardest thing we experienced this time around. The other thing that ranked up there in the “hard to deal with” category was the music. Of course this year’s theme was “Remedy” and honestly perfect for us, but some of the music played was heart wrenching to hear since it was also played at Clara’s funeral which made it a bit more difficult for us. That said, we had a wonderful time. We met some amazing friends and the kids were never short of attention!! The community really loves all and we were blessed to have a week away from home during our stressful time. This week really helped us to focus on what really matters and less on our fears.
We are excited to have been given the opportunity to raise Miss Haleigh and are looking forward to our next “age” milestone of 4 months. That day will be here very shortly.
As Haleigh gets older I am in awe at the things she is doing. She has shared with us her first smile, first giggles, first poop-spoltion daipers, first night of sleeping 9hours, you get my drift. One first we are approaching is the day when she is older, on earth, than her sister. In a few short days that day will be here. As we count down the days and continue to add to the list of Haleigh’s 1st’s I am saddened by some of the things that were so abrubtly taken away 4 years ago. I still wonder how we made it through our loss, how we didn’t allow us to consume us and our brand new marriage. Some how we made it back to land from the sea of grief. I am always amazed that it can be done. We did it!!
As I look at the week ahead I am nervous. We are traveling and will be in the company of teenage camp counselors who will be tending to Haleigh while we attend bibles studies. While I am excited for time to focus on God, I am nervous because these young people will be caring for and napping our little girl during a very stressful time for me. I have never been to the training they have gotten, whether it be through the camp or baby sitting classes, so I have no idea what kind of baby care classes they have been to. It just makes me anxious because Clara passed while at daycare…a wonderful mother with 5 children of her own!!
Today I have decided that this week will be a great time to influence some young people on safe sleep habits for babies. Why not?!?! Just like each person’s testimony about their walks with God can bring one to God, maybe someone with a testimony to why safe sleep is important may stay with them for a lifetime. I hope it will bring me comfort knowing that they will take excellent care of Haleigh. I have never taken our babies to daycare around this milestone so this is a good step in my grief, trust, and faith. I am ready to face that challenge 🙂
As with Lincoln and Preston, I am always excited to share pictures of our big goal and “mini celebration”. Be watching for pictures! It will be a great sigh of relief and then we will be on to our 6m old goal.
Gender neutral clothes are on their 4th (and some on their 6th) baby..
Handing down clothes after the loss of a child has been pretty easy. I think partly because there is 4 years and 2 children in between Clara and Haleigh. I find that the clothes I find myself reusing are the ones that I also used for Lincoln and Preston (and some from Damon and Mason). No she isn’t dressed like a boy but onsies that say “I Love Mom/Dad” or “My Dad/Mom is a superhero” just work for both genders. Finish off the outfit with a cute pair of girl pants and no one knows that it is actually a boys onsie. Even less boyish is the pretty headband and bow to top off the girly look.
Okay…so she looks a little boyish in the picture but if you saw the ruffles on the back side of the pants you would think girl 😉
I kept much of Clara’s clothes after she passed…at least the stuff she wore anyway.
Seasonally most of the stuff is correct but I can’t believe how much of it now is sort of out of style. I also find myself looking at the outfit and saying, “this isn’t Haleigh” and taking it off and putting it away to sell. Who would have thought!?! It isn’t that the outfit reminds me of Clara or makes me uncomfortable, it just isn’t Haleigh’s style. I find myself attracted to blues and yellows for Miss Haleigh rather than the greens and whites for Clara. Maybe it is my way of making sure Haleigh isn’t compared to Clara or maybe it is simply an excuse to shop the hundreds of girls racks once again. I love seeing her in the old sleepers, probably because those haven’t changed, I mean even the colors and cute little shoe feet of them are the same this year as they were 4 years ago.
While it has been easy for the most part there was one item that has too many memories to reuse…
The one thing I unpacked that was immediately repacked was the duplicate to the outfit Clara passed away in. We got 2 “you are my sunshine” outfits, one in 0-3 and the other 3-6. Clara was wearing the 3-6 the day she passed. That outfit was given to us to take home from the ER after her death. To our surprise that outfit was cut up the pant leg and shirt front when they took her clothes off trying to save her. That, my friends, was one of the worst surprises ever. No one mentioned that they would be like that. I still vividly remember discovering it and quickly hiding it from Chris. When I told him about it, he didn’t want to see it. I discarded that very bad memory in the trash. When I unpacked the smaller sized one, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it but I don’t think I could ever put it on Haleigh either. I think it will be one that goes in Clara’s special box.
New things for the new girl
We have a few favorite outfits that are getting much use but for the most part it has been fun to pick out new things for the new girl in our lives. I was so excited to have a girl, the first thing we did after we left the hospital was go pick out her Easter dress! While it is nice to be able to reuse, it is also nice to have a few new things. I think it is a matter of balancing out the old things and memories with the new things and creating new memories of both. We do this while still remembering the good memories from before 🙂