Last year at about this time my neighbor brought me a flower arrangement that she had made for Anne Marie’s grave. When she gave it to me she said, “It’s her [Anne Marie’s] time of year. I can feel it.” I knew just what she meant. I felt it then and I feel it now.
It was this time of year two years ago when we were in Dallas and getting ready for Anne Marie’s birth. And with this coming season I feel it. The weather begins to change -- cooler days and crisp evenings. It's the time of her birth and death.
I know that grief comes in waves. Sometimes the waves are stronger than others, and this time of year seems to bring the waves crashing in. The ache of missing her seems stronger than ever. The memories of walking around Northpark Mall anticipating when she would come. The trips to our doctor in Dallas for check-ups. Homeschooling the kids in our cozy Dallas apartment. I remember when we first got to Dallas and I was trying to make our apartment “homey.” I bought a glass jar and filled it with Halloween candy, and I set a bright orange pumpkin outside our front door. A few hours later someone had taken the pumpkin. We laughed about it, wondering who would steal a pumpkin.
It seemed like those weeks in Dallas when we were waiting for her to come went so slow. And then finally she was here and we got to see her perfect, beautiful face for the first time. I remember being with her, touching her, kissing her, and loving her so much. Everything about this time of year reminds me of her and pulls me right back to when I was standing by her bed day after day. And I just miss her, so, so much.
I think about her in heaven and wish I knew what she is doing. I’ve read several books about heaven and know that it is far better than anything we can begin to imagine, but I still wonder about her. I don’t know how age works in heaven or how old she will be when I finally get to see her. I want to be able to hold her in my arms and breathe in her smell and feel her soft hair rub against my cheeks. I want to tell her how brave she was and how I’m so, so sorry that she had to have so much pain. I want to tell her that we are thankful for every second we had with her and that even in the midst of my busy days of school, driving to ballet and football, cooking dinner, etc., that she is still always right there in my thoughts. I want to tell her that even though Oliver is here with us that we still miss our baby girl more than ever and the ache to hold her in my arms is still there. Sometimes I pray and ask God to tell her all these things for me, still not knowing how heaven “works” but hoping that somehow she knows just how much we love her.
In Jack Henry’s Bible lessons these past few weeks we have been reading about God’s sovereignty. It has been appropriate because at times like this I find myself struggling so much against God’s plan. I wonder “why” and I think over and over “if only” -- and yet I know God’s plans for me and for Anne Marie are perfect.
I know these waves will come and go. I know some days will be harder than others and that for the rest of my life there will be an emptiness inside that won’t be filled until heaven. What a glorious day it will be when "He will wipe every tear ... and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain."