Elizabeth Anne. My youngest, my baby girl turns 29. Your 4th birthday in heaven. First, let me say 4 birthdays and just stop for a moment with that. 1,460 days that I have thought about you. 1,460 days that I got up out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and survived! And I would say in some ways your momma has thrived! Not in everything…..but I am making progress. Something I wasn’t quite sure I would be able to do. But these last 4 birthdays has taught me that love does that. Love transcends grief, and pain and separation. It can transform us if we let it.
I wore your favorite perfume today (Ms. Cherie Dior), your scarf, and my James Avery butterfly ring, just like you in this picture. Your family gathered today, at a place you grew up on fried chicken and grilled cheese as a toddler and would always love a great cheeseburger and those amazing onion rings at Top Notch. We would frequent there often those last two years of high school. You even begged me to buy you a Top Notch T shirt. You wore that to school and thought it was so awesome. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. You were a Matthew McConaughey fan and his first movie, Dazed and Confused was filmed there. This was the last place we would eat together this side of heaven. Just you and I. No children, no siblings, no husbands. How I cherish that memory. And so, I love spending your birthday here. It makes me feel close to you. Even your nephew, Eli wanted to linger (which isn’t like him).
After lunch, I then spent the rest of the day doing things I don’t normally do. Visiting Antique shops and really going wherever the day led me. It was a good day.
I finished the day at the Salado cemetery. The sun was setting and I laid your birthday wreath.
As is my custom, I placed a memorial in the Salado Village Voice and the Lexington Leader to remember and honor you on this day.
I also wanted to share that these last 4 birthdays have taught me some important things:
- You experience grief and joy together. I think people think (as I first did) that you have one or the other. That is not true. They co-exist. I do experience joy. Not the giddy happy time (not always anyway), but the deep abiding joy that comes from the peace of knowing that you are in the presence of my Savior and we will be together for eternity, and yet I also grieve.
- I will grieve for you until I die. And I’m ok with that. I will grieve the events we will not share this side of heaven. Grieving for you does not mean I am not “healed”. Although I have also decided that healing is really the journey and not the destination. My understanding of this is that our true healing and the completion of that is done when I meet Jesus face to face and he wipes all the tears away. As Queen Elizabeth said: With great love comes great grief. I would never want to disavow that great love by not grieving your absence in my life.
- To have deep JOY, you must have GRATITUDE. It is a two sided coin. If you find a joyous person they understand the concept of gratitude. God has taught me a lot about gratitude. I can say with all the joy of my heart…….I am so very grateful He let me be your mom. Even if it was only for 25 years this side of heaven. So, so, very blessed.