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Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Remembering, Part One

Remembering, Part One

This past weekend was the annual Day of Remembering at the children's hospital.  It's one day set aside each year to commemorate the lives of children cared for at that facility who lost their particular battle.  This was our second year there.  Last year the loss was still very fresh, only a couple months old, and frankly, I was still a bit in shock.  Last year, I found the ceremony to be healing, positive, and life-affirming.

This year…I cried more.  A lot more.  This year was harder.  Maybe it was a difference in speakers.  This year's speakers talked to us parents about the lives we could live, the choices we could make.  They might not have said it in so many words, but this is what I heard:  Make your child's life matter.  Live your life in a way that celebrates your child and honors who they were.  Let this loss and pain motivate you to make a difference for good in the world around you.

Every morning when I get up, I put on my magical socks, and I think that exact same thing.  I might not say it out loud, but it's there in the room with me as I dress.  Today I will find good in the world around me.  I will find something to celebrate about this life, and if I can't find it, I will make it.  I will do something good with my life today.  Because I must.  Because that is how I can honor my daughter.

It's a day-by-day choice, and not always an easy one.  As we all know, some days are harder than others.  I've said that a lot over the past eighteen months.  It sounds overused to my own ears, but it's true.  Some days really are harder than others, but it's not exclusive to me, or even to grief.  Whether it's job, family, faith, grief, or something else entirely – some days are harder than others.  That's just life.  It's not unique to the grieving parent, and it's not unique to me.  It's life.  Real.  Life.

There are many parts of the Remembering Day celebration that I want to share.  I don't know if everyone has an opportunity to attend something like this, but if you do, I urge you to go.  For those who don't have the chance, I'll tell you what I learned, the lessons I picked up.  There's a lot to ponder, though, so I'm going to break it up over a couple weeks.

Today I'll start with the end.  How the ceremony closed.

We each stood outside in the brisk October air, holding a yellow balloon.  Some people wrote messages on their balloons, some wrote on a piece of paper and taped it to the balloon.  Others kept theirs unadorned.  We gathered together as a group on the steps.  Someone read a poem.  I looked it up afterward and found it mentioned in relation to Jewish mourning.  Authorship of the poem is attributed to Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer.  The poem is called "We Remember Them," and it has an echo built into it.  So as the reader recited the first line, the rest of us echoed back with "we remember them."  As the poem closed, we released our balloons.

You might not think  a flood of yellow balloons rising into the sky, getting smaller with each passing second, is anything special.  Let me tell you otherwise.  It's beautiful.  Breathtaking.  Magnificent.  Haunting.

It may have been symbolic.  All of us parents and siblings have to work toward reaching the point where we can let go of the pain, bitterness, anger, or guilt – whatever our individual struggle is.  I'll think about that on another day, though.  Today I am just going to rest in how majestic those balloons looked as they rose together higher and higher into the sky.

And so I will close with this:

WE REMEMBER THEM

At the rising of the sun and at its going down

We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter

We remember them.

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring

We remember them.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer

We remember them.

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn

We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends

We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as

We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength

We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart

We remember them.

When we have joy we crave to share

We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make

We remember them.

When we have achievements that are based on theirs

We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as

We remember them.

 

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Your blog is always reaffirming my faith that though things are difficult they will get better. Our friends lost their little boy last February and they now do a balloon release on that day in rememberance of him and they will continue to do this. Thank you for your words as they help others who don't know what to do learn to cope with the loss of a small loved one.



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