Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Happy Birthday Sunshine

Happy Birthday Sunshine.

I always mark the day with a post, but I almost let it pass this year.  I've been running on empty lately, and there's a part of me that figures people must be tired of listening to me talk about what an amazing daughter you were and how deeply wounded I am by losing you.

Then I shrugged and decided it doesn't matter.  I write these posts because they help me.  In turn, sometimes they even help other people.  So I'll keep writing.

You would be twelve today if you were still here with us.  I wish I could see you!  You would be in that no-man's-land between girl and young woman.  I wonder how tall you would be.  You should see your brother.  He's got inches on me now.  Whenever I can't reach anything, I have him get it for me.  He rolls his eyes and tells me he doesn't know how I can possibly not reach whatever it is I need.  I tell him, "I could.  If I had a ladder.  Instead, I have you."

He started high school this year, too.  I think he likes it so far.  He's growing up on me, and soon he'll be going off to college, and I'll be lost because I wasn't supposed to be done that soon.  I'm not ready to have an empty nest.

I'm going to be speaking next month to a gathering of parents who have lost children.  For every day that I think I'm ready for the task, there are three where I think I've completely lost my mind.  I'm terrified that I won't be able to make it through the speech, but at the same time, there's this push inside of me that says I need to do it, that tells me I have something to say and someone there will need to hear it.  So I'll do it.  If I don't talk about you nearly as much as I should during the speech, it's only because I want to get all the words out.  If I start talking about my Ladybug, I'm not sure I'll be able to keep it together.

I use your ladybug bible now.  My silver one fell apart, and I had this one.  I bought it when we were in North Carolina visiting T and B the month before you ended up in the hospital.  It was supposed to be a Christmas gift that year.  Even though you never got to use it, I wasn't quite able to bring myself to part with it.  So when mine finally fell to pieces, I decided to take the ladybug bible out from premature retirement.  I figure someday somebody will ask me why there's a ladybug on my bible, and then I'll get to tell them about you and our ladybug song.  I still sing it sometimes.  Mostly in my head because nobody can stand to hear my singing voice.  But I sing it, and I see you dancing to the lyrics, and I allow myself to cry with missing you.

The world just isn't as bright without you in it.  We're doing better than a year ago.  We laugh more, tease more, and accomplish more.  But we miss you constantly.  Each day that comes, we take another step forward, but you're always with us.  You're in our hearts, on our minds, and with us in our dreams.

Heaven is a sweeter place for having you in it.

I miss you, baby girl.  With arms that ache to hug you and hold you close in their protective circle, I miss you.  With a heart that, with every beat, cries out for just one more day, I miss you.

You are and will always be grace, beauty, sunshine, laughter, tickles, love, hugs, pink pants, purple flowers, and a part of me.


With more love than I could ever wrap up in pretty words,


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Praying for your family.