Thursday, October 22, 2015

Five Years Gone

"Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh,..
Oh I'm a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,..
Some folks just have one,
yeah, others, they got none, huh-uh
Stay with me,..
Let's just breathe.
Practiced all my sins,
never gonna let me win, aw-huh,..
Under everything, just another human being, aw-huh,..
Yeah, I don't wanna hurt, there's so much in this world
to make me bleed.
Stay with me,..
You're all I see.
Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
As I come clean.
I wonder everyday
as I look upon your face, aw-huh,..
Everything you gave
And nothing you would save, aw huh,..
Nothing you would take
Everything you gave...
Did I say that I need you?
Oh, did I say that I want you?
Oh, if I didn't I'm a fool you see,..
No one knows this more than me.
And I come clean, ah-ah...
Nothing you would take,..
Everything you gave.
Hold me till I die,..
Meet you on the other side."
It's been almost five years since this song played as we walked down the aisle of the church. Away from Ellie and into the after. It's been almost five years since I've been able to listen to this song. Five years.
In five years our lives have changed greatly. We have moved into a new house in a wonderful neighborhood. Ellie has another brother and a sister. We've watched Max become more comfortable in his own skin and learn to join us in our world more often than not. We've welcomed three adorable nephews. Our lives are different. We've gone forward.
But we have not moved on. Upstairs there is still a giraffe that sits on a shelf. Pictures remain on the mantel and side table. Jingle Bells hang from rearview mirrors. Our kids speak of Ellie daily. They know their sister and love her. We still celebrate her birthday.

When Ellie first died I often wondered how life would ever go on. How could days continue to pass without her in this world. I was often angry at those I saw on the street- innocently going on with their lives. Didn't they know? 

As time passed, it did become easier to put my feet on the floor in the morning and get up. Eventually smiles and laughter returned. We did start healing. Holidays and anniversaries passed with greater ease and fewer tears. Dave and I are lucky to have to many family members and friends that help us honor and remember Ellie on a daily basis. We have always been free to talk about her and celebrate her nine months and ten days. The early days of shock, anger and uncontrollable sobs eased and for the most part disappeared. 

But for some reason, five years came rushing down on me and has knocked me to my feet. I'm angry, out of sorts and a teary mess. Addy and Levi go to preschool at the church where we held Ellie's funeral. And up until this week, going there hasn't been a problem for me. But when we pulled in the parking lot this morning, I lost it. With shaking hands, I walked to kids inside and bit my tongue as hard as I could to keep the tears in until I made it to the car. Yes, the return of the car cry. You BLMs know what I mean. It has been so long that I've cried this much. It's shocking. 

Yes I miss Ellie terribly every day. I see the empty spot at dinner table and in the car. The fourth coat hook. They stare at me every single day. But I try to not make eye contact and just keep moving. I see the Time Hop pictures for those who have five year old girls and try not to think about what we are missing. When the neighbor is over to play after kindergarten I try not to think that "this is what our walks should look like." It is always there. For the rest of our lives, we will carry a hole. A hole of what should be a sassy kindergartener, a mouthy and disrespectful teenager, a college student, an excited bride, and tired new mother... These things are never going away.

I guess I just forgot that sometimes the reminder of what we are missing can come back in a not so gentle way. It's not always a sad smile, diverted eyes or the quiet welling up of tears in your eyes. Sometimes it's screaming, torrents of hot tears and anger. Sometimes it's memories of the unspeakable things our eyes have seen and ears have heard. It's brutal and relentless.

I worry that people assume after five years, we've moved on. That grief has subsided and lies quietly in the closet. All tucked away. I guess in some ways, even I had been convinced of this. But the last couple days have been nothing but proof that grief never goes away. We learn to ride the waves, but occassionally, against all our best efforts, a tsunami of tears and pain slams us back into the ground where we started. People say it's the price you pay for loving someone so deeply. And that's fine- I agree. But it doesn't take the hurt away. And it doesn't make it easier. 

After five long years, I still just want my baby back.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

On the Eve of Five: Frozen

Anna and Elsa.

It's pretty much the only thing five year old girls talk about. The only acceptable birthday party theme for a five year old girl this year is Frozen.

Tonight I should be plastering Olaf, Anna and Elsa all over our house in preparation for a certain little five year old to see when she wakes up in the morning. And for a moment, I considered it. A very brief moment. But in reality, every single of one of Ellie's birthdays is a Frozen birthday. Ellie is forever frozen in time. She will forever remain 9 months and ten days. So while I did buy a simple pink "5" candle, the truth is that it is all for show. There is no five year old in this house. Ellie will never be five years old.

Constant sickness among the other kids and the general busyness of life easily allowed this day to sneak up on me. And for that I'm grateful.


It's a big deal. Five isn't a preschool. Five is school age. Five means school. Five year olds are little people. Most five year olds could talk your ear off about their favorite toys, movies and friends.

Five years after I gave birth to a beautiful screaming baby girl, I can tell you nothing about her five year old self. I know nothing about what shows she likes to watch, who her best friend is or what she wants to be when she grows up. I don't know if she prefers Anna or Elsa. I know nothing about that five year old.

I'm mad. I feel cheated. I'm sad. I'm trying not to go there. I'm worried that if I start tumbling down that dark path, I will fall into a hole so big that I won't be able to climb out of it.

Fortunately (or not, depending how I look at it I guess), there is a certain big brother that is looking forward to celebrating someone's 5th birthday. Max has his Ellie's Light shirt picked out to wear tomorrow, plans on shouting "Happy Birthday Ellie!" upon waking in the morning, thinks we should go out to dinner and have "muffins with frosting." Addy was heard singing "Happy Birthday Ellie" earlier today. And because I make a big deal of the kids' birthdays, there are decoration expectations...

So tonight I pulled out things pink and purple. Sparkly and girly. And lots of pictures of the most perfect little girl with chubby fingers and thighs, fuzzy head and mischievous smile...


...Tomorrow we are having a Frozen birthday. But there is will be no Anna, Elsa or Olaf. There won't even be a birthday girl. Just some pictures of a little girl, frozen in time.