In the darkness of our bedroom the red glow of the digital clock changed over to 12:00 AM. The moment when yesterday transitioned into tomorrow, a new day, your birthday. The stilled silence of our sleeping house has gradually lost its raw sting. It still hurts sometimes, but buffered by time, the unnatural silence is no longer directly contrasted against the vivacity and sparkle that your life brought to our home. I whispered, “Happy Birthday,” to you and drifted off to sleep with memories of you and your impending arrival. I recalled the sensation of your sweet little skinny arms and leggies poking out from beneath my skin on the night before you were born, and how I wished you could just stay protected there forever.
It was a beautiful day, just as it was three years ago, the day you were born. I cried over your pictures, amazed by the sheer miracle of your life. The texts, emails and messages that periodically streamed through to me were such a comfort.
I was afraid to plan anything “outrageous” on your birthday. What if I was an emotional trainwreck? It was so hard to know how I’d actually feel until I was there in the day. As it just so happened we had the opportunity to go to a Natalie Grant concert ON the evening of your birthday. One thing I did know for certain is that I would definitely be giving thanks and praise to God for you. What a perfect venue to do that! Before the concert we visited the cemetery for a little dinner picnic and chased some “fuzz” around.
At the concert together as a family, we remembered you, missed you and loved you. The tears were on autoflow when Natalie sang “Held” ~
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To Think That Providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we’d be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We’re asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it’s unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and know
That the promise was when everything fell
We’d be held
This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow
If hope is born of suffering
If this is only the beginning
Can we not wait, for one hour
Watching for our Savior
Greta and I were so thankful for the Kleenexes that were handed to us during that one!!! We were so very blessed and comforted to be in the company of people who knew about you, and who have followed along with us on this journey. We needed all of those hugs and words of encouragement.
The celebration of your sweet life continued on into the next day. Your Nana & Papa, aunts, uncles, cousins and Kellkell had planned to meet us at the cemetery. Your Kellkell got there first and as she was waiting there at your grave, a family was walking by with kids on bikes. What in the world are the odds that one of the children in that family would be named Kelly and the other Nora — and that the mom would yell out, “Kelly! Look at Nora!” Nora… who was popping wheelies on her trike. Is that what YOU’RE doing in heaven too?? Meanwhile back on earth – your Kellkell was beside herself! What a sweet “wink” from heaven!
As our car pulled up to the cemetery, my eyes welled up with tears. A giant bouquet of balloons that your Aunt Sarah had procured was shimmying with the wind. The tears continued when I caught sight of your Aunt Em. She had snuck in town undetected from Cleveland! Nana, Papa, Oma, Uncle Joe, Uncle Dustin, Uncle Dan and your cousins Gracie, Keira and Parker were all there. We all hugged hello and gathered around your little grave where we sang you your favorite song. Your Uncle Dan remembered how you would get upset when the song was over, so of course we had to sing it to you again just like we did while you were here. Even the birds joined in and LOUDLY sang to you!!
We released the beautiful bunch of balloons with messages attached and sprinkled pink sparkles on your grave.
Gathering back at our house where you once reigned supreme seemed only appropriate. A slideshow of pictures from when you were teeny tiny played on the TV throughout the evening. It’s crazy to think you started out so small. It was nice to be together, collectively missing your squeals and your silly little antics. We sang Happy Birthday to you again and blew out your candles for you.
Your cake was your favorite color and had LADY bugs and butterflies and baby bees all over it. It didn’t taste like milkies – so you probably wouldn’t have liked it, but It sure was pretty and we all thought it was delicious!
Nana & Papa and your aunts, uncles and cousins had this gorgeous shadow box made from some of your funeral flowers and your prayer cards. The petals and the flowers preserved beautifully. What a treasured way to memorialize you!
Before the night was over we passed around a gold marker and we all wrote messages to you on a personalized Chinese lantern. We stood there under the quietude of the twilight sky and watched the lantern lift off into the heavens. We strained and squinted our eyes until you “caught” it and we couldn’t see it anymore.
You are the magnificent sweeping interlude that God unexpectedly conducted into the symphony of our lives. An unforgettable part of the melody that will resonate throughout the measures of time. We hope you had a beautiful birthday in heaven, little girl — with lots of baffs and trike wheelies! Happy birthday to you!
I have to give a shout out to Laurelbox — the company who sent a box of very thoughtful handmade gifts to us. They helped us to make Nora’s first birthday in heaven a special one down here on earth. We received a little bag of sparkly glitter (which was inspired by Nora) to sprinkle at her grave site, a delicious cake-scented candle, and the Chinese lantern with a gold marker to write on it. That was such a wonderful surprise, Denise!!! Thank you so so much!