Bleary eyed I rolled over to the sound of the alarm on my phone. (I had been awake for a while but refused to stir before the designated 6 am start time.) I’m up.
“Okay God, let’s do this. “ I said as I sat up to start my day. Yes, I often talk to God first thing in the morning. Most of the time my conversations are in my head but on mornings like this, when my husband is out of town, I talk out loud. I wrapped my robe around me and grabbed my phone. The morning ritual is as follows: go downstairs, let the dogs out, use the bathroom, get coffee (hopefully I remembered to set the timer the night before) then I sit outside and check my messages (text, email, social media) while I wait for the dogs to return to the porch and come back inside. This morning as I checked my phone a reminder popped up. Today – Kelley’s B-Day. I did not need to be reminded. I remember.
Most mothers don’t need to be reminded of their children’s birthdays. When those children are gone, the dates hold even more significance. I have had so many reminders of my baby girl these last few days. She is always on the forefront of my mind.
As I celebrated my third son Joey’s high school graduation, Kelley was there. My emotions were a chaotic swirl of heights and depths. I was so proud of him for making it through. Going back to the school he shared with his sister the day after she died could not have been easy. Getting through the high school years can be grueling. Traveling those halls and classrooms while your sister is the subject of the current gossip only adds to the strain. But he did it. It was a joyful day. It was a day of relief. I would never again have to ask, “Did you do your homework?” Never again would I be stressed out about one of my children passing their classes. No more shuttling kids back and forth for football games, band, choir, drama and all the other school related activities. A weight was lifted. But it felt wrong. I’m not supposed to be done yet. I’m supposed to be going through it all for one more year. I’m supposed to be seeing my youngest through her senior year. I’m supposed to have one more graduation party to throw. I am in the present and the past at the same time. I look forward. I look back. I remember.
I went to another graduation days later, this one in our previous town. We were blessed to be able to share in the graduation of Joey’s best friend. Over the years Kanyen has become part of our family. So we were thrilled to be invited to attend his graduation. So many names that night brought back memories made in the small town of Stanwood. Many of the names were of girls Kelley danced with. I watched them walk across the stage while I dammed up the tears behind my eyes. I used to celebrate their milestones together with their own “dance moms”. I remember.
I look on the Facebook and Instagram posts of my daughter’s friends. The sweet sixteen birthday that Kelley never had, the graduation stage that Kelley will never walk across. The engagement photos that I will never help plan. I am surrounded by reminders of what will never be.
Reminders of Kelley are everywhere. And they are good. Yes, that’s right, good. Even though I grieve the milestones I’ve been robbed of, even though I mourn the days that never were, these reminders bring me hope. Kelley is near in my heart. She is active in my memories and she is well in the arms of her savior.
For today, I see her in the smile of her best friend. I feel her dance in the flight of the butterflies. I look back at old photos and I tell stories of shared life in years past. I remember.
One day I will see her again in eternity. Her smile. Her laugh. Together before the throne of grace, we will once again swirl in dance, hand in hand as we did in years past.
For today, I remember.
Happy birthday beautiful girl!