Our Precious Baby Girl, Madeline, would have been TWO years old on the Fourth of July. What a difference a year makes. Last year, her birthday fell on a Sunday. We dressed her in her Sunday best and went to Church. I told my husband and friends, “My heart is so full of joy that I want to run up to everyone and say, WE MADE IT! SHE DID IT!!! TODAY SHE IS ONE!!! ISN’T SHE BEAUTIFUL?!!! It was truly a feeling of pure joy. We had a small party at our house and our close friends that had shared in our fear and joy were here. Madeline was not able to eat much by mouth and was dependent on a feeding tube. This did not stop me, however! I wanted her to have the First Birthday Experience, so she had a red velvet cupcake. I thought as a Fourth of July Baby Girl, red velvet should be her signature cake. Look at her enjoying her Cupcake!
Don’t you just want to SQUEEZE and KISS her? Trust me one look at the precious face and you were hooked! When I want to remember when I truly felt PURE JOY, I will go back to this day and moment in time.
On this Fourth of July, which would have been the day she turned TWO, was a much different emotion. Instead of feeling the joy and bounce in my step, I awoke with a feeling in the pit of my stomach making me want to wretch. My heart felt so heavy I didn’t want to get out of bed or listen to any fireworks or celebrate anything. I never have a good feeling about the day when the first thing I do when I awake is cry. But sometimes that’s about all you can do. I literally thought this day was going to tap out any and all coping skill I might still have.
However, we were on a family get away to the Lake and her brothers wanted to know how we were going to celebrate her Birthday? By screaming and crying and feeling sorry for ourselves I wanted to yell. But, as always, there insight amazes me. Because as painful as it was we did want to Celebrate our Beautiful Baby Girl and her incredible little life. I wanted to honor her day and celebrate because I don’t want anyone ever to forget her. And you are afraid people will. She came to us with such gentleness, grace and love and we cherished and adored her and always will. So we did “celebrate”. Aunt Katie bought helium balloons, we all wrote messages and released them. We hope they get to heaven to be with her but mostly we hope the love sent up is what she received.
Although it was soo hard to feel like we were celebrating and seemed like a tragic sight to any bystander, I took a photo anyways. Why? I want her brothers to always remember to celebrate their Baby Sister and all the joy she brought here on earth, although much too brief. I also hope they carry her unconditional love forward in their lives. In looking back at a photo from that day, I was surprised. The rainbow of balloons was a beautiful site!
After we released the balloons Johnny came to check my eyes. He lifted up my sunglasses and said are you crying? Surprisingly, this time, I was not. He said oh, I thought you would be more sad? I know, me to and started to cry. The pain of celebrating without her was almost too much to bear. Earlier in the day we went to her graveside and brought her gifts. We selected two roses. I decided she was a yellow kind of girl, so we laid to beautiful yellow roses and a small balloon at her grave and cried for all the joy we were missing.