So for 4 days now, I've known I would have to let this out. I've known that eventually, I would let this slip. But I figured that I would wait until the details were foggy and it could be a few short sentences. Like I always do. Then I read this http://www.joyshope.com/2008/10/whats-in-name.html and I was/am ready. Kind of.
It's funny, the things you stumble on. I was on Pinterest and I clicked on a link to a tutorial of a crinkle toy. You know, the little tag toys/rags for babies that crinkle and make babies smile. And it was a cute blog, and I just happened to look at the title bar and see "Joy's Story."And I knew what her story was. I've read enough blogs to know. So I read it. I read every word of her story, because she is someone's daughter, and somewhere, maybe, she's Charlotte's friend.
But really, my story this week is short and simple and probably silly.
We were at a local photography studio this week, getting Sophia and her cousin's pictures taken with her Gramma and Papa. While we were waiting for our photographer, a family was leaving the studio. Mom, Dad, big sister, little sister. Big sister hung back a little, looking at the Christmas decorations, or talking to the girls.. I was distracted. Her dad said, "Come on, Charlotte." Jolt number one.
A few minutes later, we were called back to the studio. The girls were positioned on the couch, and silliness ensued. Trying to get 3 girls (age almost 4, 2, and 4 months) to both look at the camera and smile at the same time? These people are good. In the studio next to us, a little girl, maybe 4 or 5, was having her holiday pictures taken. The studios are really just one big, open room. So really, in the same room as us, the other photographer was saying, "Smile, Charlotte! Where's Charlotte? Good job, Charlotte!" Over and over, for 10 minutes. I was trying to concentrate on my own girl and her cousins. (For the record, this was the first time since the womb that Sophia has willingly posed for pictures! She was amazing!) But come on. Two little girls in less than 10 minutes named Charlotte? Are you kidding me?
So there it is. My horror story of the week. Thrown in alongside the holiday stress, the money woes we're all feeling, the craptastic weather, my upset tummy. And the fact that her 5th birthday is in 2 months. This is our 5th Christmas Without Her. The fifth time we've not been able to watch her open presents. The fifth Christmas that all I can do is hang a couple of special ornaments for her. That's all I have. I don't get to buy Christmas jammies for my two girls. I don't get to fill her little pink stocking. But everywhere around me, people are shouting her name.
I feel like I could spend most of my time being angry. That is something I've refused to do from day one. Even with our trail of disasters. My anger wont help. It wont bring our daughter back. It wouldn't fix our leaking house. It wouldn't have reversed my husband's cancer. And it wont help now. With all of the unknowns we are staring straight at. With any of the things that fate, or the universe, or God, or whatever, has taken out of our hands.
(As I am typing this, Sophia is watching Nick Jr. The little in-between shows section where a mom or dad reads to their kid. This mom was reading a book to her daughter, you guessed it, Charlotte. Seriously!?!)
Some people will tell me that maybe she's trying to say hello. Maybe this is all some sort of sign. But I can't feel her. I can't hear her voice. I can't see her face. I can only close my eyes and remember how soft her skin was. The way she smelled. The shape of her perfect red lips. And the silent house we went home to. The empty pink room. The pink frilly dress in the closet. Somewhere in all of this chaos, I will learn to survive this. Every day, I have to survive this. I have taken 3 words with me on this journey. "Believe" "Hope" and "Joy." For some reason, I was able to feel meaning in all of these. Reading that blog tonight really slapped me in the face. I need to remember my words. I think these are the things that might help me bury my anger and uncertainty. I will close my eyes tonight and I will pray, and I will hope that heaven isn't as far away as it seems. For all we know, heaven could be right next to us, waiting for us to notice it. I need to stop listening to the shouting and start listening for her voice again.
We cling to the HOPE of Heaven.