It’s been awhile but, here I am. Buckle up because this will get long.
When I was in Kindergarten I vividly remember the ‘March’ unit where we learned “March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.” I don’t really know what that had to do with Kindergarten but, it was fun to say! We made paper plate lions and cut the edges like a mane and glued cotton balls to another plate to make a sheep/lamb. Don’t ask me why I remember that so well. BUT this year- it makes sense- March came in like a lion for me…..
March has been hard. Harder than I expected it to be. I obviously knew Sophie’s birthday would be a difficult day but, I really wasn’t expecting the whole month to take my breath away. I guess it’s because we experienced a lot of ‘firsts’ this month and any grief book you’ll ever read says that ‘firsts’ are the worst. We spent time at both of our parents’ houses this month and that was hard, especially for me. I see her everywhere at Jonathan’s parents’ house because we lived there for a short time while I was pregnant and then we lived on their land when she was a newborn so she was at their house every single day just about for the first year of her life. At my parents’ house there are so many memories and so much missing. The rain boots and coat we kept in their laundry room for red dirt adventures, the golf cart where she went “weeeeeee” with Pappy, the toy basket and tiny chair in the living room, the pack-n-play where she slept in Mammy’s room so mom and dad could get some sleep, snacks in the pantry, and sippy cups in the cabinets. All of these things are gone. They are gone at our house too but, seeing other homes that she visited so frequently without these things was just….hard.
We were also around my sweet nephew who is 3 months older than Sophie. He is my favorite but, everything he’s doing right now…she should be doing. I organized in her ‘room’ (She never was at our new apartment but, her stuff is here so it’s her room) a little more and put more things away in the closet, making room for a desk. We’re slowly turning her room into an office for my writing and Jonathan’s business plans. All of these ‘firsts’ were happening as we were approaching her birthday. As far as timing goes, it was probably best to just get all of that over with in one month but, geez, it’s been tough. We even had to deal with getting her headstone placed and seeing it for the first time 4 days before her birthday. Not the 3rd birthday present I had planned for her.
So, I tried by best to stay busy this month. Staying busy helped me immensely in February. I’ve been doing freelance writing for a marketing company here in Tyler, running the blog of one of their health clients. That has been fun. I’ve also had 2 articles get published on a popular mom blog. (I can’t share them here yet for copyright purposes but, I will.) And I’ve completely thrown myself into the BEST Bible Study, The Amazing Life of Jesus Christ. It’s been hard, it’s hit home way too many times, and it makes my brain hurt but, it’s been soooooo good for me! Plus, meeting with a bunch of my favorite women for 2 hours every Tuesday is never a bad thing. BUT even all of those things just haven’t completely filled the hole this month, and that’s ok.
I’m learning that staying busy all of the time isn’t the answer but, doing nothing also isn’t the answer because….there is no answer. There’s no right or wrong way to handle grief and all of the emotions that come with it. There are busy days where life almost feels ‘normal’ and then there’s guilt for that feeling. There are nights of no sleep where I’ve just given up laying in bed and instead sat in the glider I used to rock her in and held her blankets and pillows wondering how this is my life. I experience rage a lot- that might not be a flattering thing to admit but- it’s my life. Rage over little things has been my go-to emotion lately. Things like people complaining about dumb stuff or it raining too much for me to go to the cemetery or getting messages from people ‘hoping Sophie gets better’ all just bring out my rage. Walking past birthday candles sparked a rage filled crying session that I was completely unprepared for. Honestly, the fact that we have to face any of this, especially all of the ‘firsts’ is just infuriating. I feel like rage is probably too strong of a word- I’m not going like HULK SMASH everyday, I just mean things that usually would just be mildly annoying have become big issues to me.
Anyways, back to life updates. SO March 19th came and instead of a birthday party-probably Trolls themes if I had to guess- we planned Sophie The Brave Day . My original idea behind it was to encourage people to #DoMoreForSoph by simply doing anything they could think of to show kindness. I want her story to be about more than cancer- I want it to be about seeing a need- and filling it just because it’s a nice thing to do. so that’s how it started but, it became something so much more! People all over were sending me the great things they were doing -big and small- just because Sophie’s story inspired them to do more and be brave.
I asked the Women’s Bible Study groups at my church campus, my friends, and family to donate items or money that could be used to make Parent Bags for the hospital and toy donations to the Child Life team at Children’s. I didn’t open it up to my entire church or even my personal Facebook because I knew it would be HUGE! Now, that’s not a bad thing at all- and I hope to do a HUGE donation one day but, this time……This time on her birthday, I just wanted enough donations to keep me busy organizing in the days leading up to her birthday but, not so much that I got overwhelmed and had a mental-rage-filled breakdown. It ended up being absolutely perfect. My people showed up in a HUGE way and we were able to make 34 bags for new families coming into the hospital and we filled 22 bags with toys, socks, books, movies, coloring books. puzzles, and so much more for the kiddos! It far exceeded my expectations!
We loaded up the car on Sophie’s birthday and headed to Dallas. My parents, Jonathan’s parents, Uncle D, Aunt Jacy, Jonathan, and I loaded the child life bin, got our ID stickers, and rode the Butterfly elevator to the 6th floor.
(Can I just note to Children’s Medical- YOU DID NOT NEED TO MAKE THE BUTTERFLY ELEVATOR TALK !!!! WE ALL HATE THE TRAIN ELEVATOR THAT TALKS SO WE ALWAYS TAKE THE BUTTERFLY ONE!!! AND YOU RUINED OUR SOLACE BY MAKING THE BUTTERFLY ONE TALK TOO!!! hahaha)
When we got to the 6th floor we were surrounded by some of our very favorites. A lot were missing but, it’s not like they have lives at home or anything. 🙂 We loaded the new parent bags into the nurses lounge and showed them all of our child life goodies. There were lots of hugs, tears, and laughs (Brittany haha) . They even all signed a sweet sign for my girl that of course got me crying- I just love them all so much. It felt like home to be there. We even had a little something for them, thanks Moon River Naturals for always keeping us smelling so good! We used to rub their Solid Vibes lotion on Sophie and all of the nurses would comment that our room smelled so good so…Stephanie at MRN was awesome enough to donate 75 of their liquid Good Vibes to the nurses!!
Honestly her actual birthday wasn’t that hard compared to the days leading up to it. I think the anticipation of yet another ‘first’ was just too much for my brain. Now that that day is over, I am trying to get back into being productive. Step one was a quick vacation to see my friend/mentor/life coach/ and all around favorite person, Erin in Florida. You should check her Girl Catch Fire blog out because….she’s basically the coolest person I know. It was a great ‘reset’ trip for me. The Lord used it to show me the “March leaves like a lamb” side of that saying.
Easter falls on April 1st this year. March is truly leaving like a lamb in 2018. The Lamb. Jesus. The One who was slain for us. we will grieve His earthly suffering on Friday and then on Sunday….We will celebrate His return. His glorious victory. Because of THE LAMB, my girl is whole and healed and lives forever. And because He is MY Savior as well, I’ll get to spend that forever right there with her.
Easter means something entirely new this year. Maybe it should’ve always felt this real and personal to me but, now that it does, I’m so excited to celebrate my Savior. I miss my Punkin more than words but, I am so thankful to be her mama and if her struggle and death can be used to bring me into closer relationship with my Jesus, then I’m going to try and find joy alongside the sad.