The new year has torn on my heart since the passing of my dad in 2015, and even more so when Charlotte passed in 2016. And now in 2018 I am feeling the same nagging pit in my stomach of sadness. While other people are reviewing the best of their years, and celebrating the coming of a new year, all my mind and heart can contemplate is the loss of Maggie this year, and that at 12:01am we will enter a year to which her physical body never existed. Also at 12:01am, it feels like I am one year further away from Charlotte, and my dad. It takes great effort to keep your child alive in spirit, and as each day, month, and year travels on with us still looking behind, one worries that the details may be slipping from the mind. I spent two days last week obsessed with the fact that I cannot remember if I looked at Maggie's feet and toes - I mean I had to look at them right? But I honestly cannot remember. Did I hold her little hands and kiss her sweet face enough? Did her body fill my arms for as much time as they could? These little details are the ones that fade over time, and the new year is a simple yet large reminder of the passage of time without your loved ones physically there with you.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about all the "could have beens", like I could have a two month old in my arms right now, I could be getting up for nightly feedings, dressing her in adorable outfits, watching the bond between her and Sophie grow....all could have beens that were never meant to be, and that is so hard to accept sometimes. I try my hardest to wrap all the "could haves" up and pass them along to the Lord to carry for me, because the weight of how things could have turned out shatters me.
The holidays have been difficult - even if I didn't show it in public- I put my best foot forward in order to continue on family traditions and make Christmas for Sophie as magical as it should be for a six year old. It isn't easy, but it is what I do when I love Sophie more than anything. We together spent a lot of time together as a family focussing on the Hope that the season of Advent brings, and devoting our sadness and emptiness to giving to others. So many people have bestowed so much Grace upon us, we felt it only right to bestow Grace and Joy unto others. A hard lesson to have learned through loss, the importance of giving Grace and spreading Joy. Despite wanting everything to have turned out differently for Charlotte and Maggie, and to have them hear by my side, part of their purpose has been to forever change me and how I give to the world.
Despite losing what feels like everything including hope in October, we do know how incredibly blessed we are and have been in 2018. As time clicks by and I struggle with the pain of that, I do not forget all the lessons I have learned, what is important in life, and how a community of people you love can carry you when you are at your worst. It is also not lost on me how close I came to losing my own life this year. It has forced me to more poignantly evaluate my own mortality, my life's purpose, and who I want to be. Would I like the person I was if I had died that night? Would I have done all the things I wanted to do? Would I have given enough love to all those I love most? These are all things that we should all be thinking about because in case I didn't fully understand with Charlotte and Maggie, facing my own mortality as made it crystal clear that we have a very small window of time on this Earth to be who we truly want to be and make the impact that we desire most. The hardest part is that we never know when that small window of time will end.
While attending the school mass with Sophie on the Friday before Christmas break, the part of the homily (sermon) that spoke to my heart was a quote from Mother Teresa "...do small things with great love...". It is a quote that I cannot get out of my head or my heart. This is such a simple reminder of how we all have the capabilities to make a difference in the life of someone, a group of people, and the world. While I don't expect 2019 to provide any Earth shattering changes in my life, in fact I anticipate it to filled with a lot of suppressed grief I have been pushing down to make it through the holidays, my family will be living by this quote "...do small things with great love..." and it is in this way we will shower the world with Grace and spread endless Joy. And that is how Charlotte and Maggie will exist in 2019.
I cannot end this post without thanking everyone for the endless love, support, patience, and grace bestowed upon me and my family. The loss of our second child has buried us in grief that we didn't know existed, and reminded us of the grief we have for the loss of Charlotte. We so appreciate the texts, emails, messages, cards etc. even when we don't respond. You are helping carry us in this journey and we are beyond blessed to know you. We hope that everyone's 2019 is filled with so much love, endless Grace, and abundant Joy. And remember "...DO SMALL THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE..." - there is no way to go wrong with living a life by that.
A small (maybe big reminder) I found today from our first Seize Your Joy Fundraiser, reminding us all that the simplest things can give us the greatest JOY!