|A Butterfly at Janessa's Memorial Service|
Seven years ago today, I was forced to fit an entire lifetime of memories and love into a mere twelve hours with my daughter.
So many regrets. So many should’ves and wishes of, “If I only knew.” Hindsight is a painful experience.
Losing your baby is not just a singular event. You lose them over and over again throughout the years. You lose all their firsts, their milestones. You lose all of the should've-been shared sweet moments. You lose their lifetime. The beautiful life you had envisioned for them. Janessa lived an entire lifetime in my mind before I ever laid eyes on her precious face. And in seconds, in a mere unlikely twist of fate, her life ended. And all of our dreams were shattered.
We were forced to say hello and goodbye at the same time.
There would be no firsts, only lasts.
The last cuddle. The last kiss. The last glance upon her perfect face. The last goodbye.
But what I’ve learned is that it’s never really goodbye. You don’t ever leave your children behind.
Her life may have ended in tragedy but what survived is her love story.
Not even death can negate their existence. Instead, it sends out ripples so far and wide that they continually affect you throughout your entire lifetime.
She may be physically gone but she is with me every day. I carry her. With every step. With every breath. She is behind every laugh and every tear. I feel her ripples. And because of that, there’s a hint of her with every one of my decisions. She is there for all of my experiences. And she continues to affect all of my encounters and interactions with others, because I now recognize the need for empathy and compassion in a way I never understood before I walked through the darkness of her death.
I am better because she lived. My soul is richer because of her. And I am thankful to her for it.
And because the ripple-effect from her death continually transforms me, she continues to impact this world. Even in death.
My life is now a sacred dance of grief and joy. So much joy, made sweeter by her.
But it’s not always graceful.
And today, on her should’ve been 7th birthday, I just don’t feel like dancing.
And what the past seven years has taught me is that feeling this way is okay.