I was comfortably stuck.
Emotionally, and almost physically, I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to leave her year behind, for her to fade in the rearview mirror…for those balloons to drift so far they couldn’t be seen.
Much to my dismay, the clock struck midnight and 2015 began.
Early in the year, a friend said to me, “I worry about you. I worry that Audrey will be your story…instead of Audrey being a PART of your story.”
“Of course she is my story. She will always be my story”, I thought to myself. But…that isn’t the whole truth. As hard as it is to swallow, Audrey doesn’t define me. I’m also a believer, a wife, a mama to Cooper, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a friend and a colleague. I realized that I was allowing her story to chip away at those areas of my life instead of making me better, like I promised it would. It wasn’t honoring to her in the least.
And now, as I come around to the other side of the darkness, I understand that I didn’t really want to move forward. I feared that healing would mean she would feel less real and that I would begin to lose her. The pain became comforting because it made me feel closer to her somehow.
I know that’s ugly. It’s dark and where is He in those statements? He never left my side. And I depended on Him. In fact, I felt closer to Him than ever before because perhaps I better understood even a smidge of His own anguish. He understood the inner-workings of my twisted mind and yet, He showed me grace through it all.
There were days and weeks after Audrey’s passing when I withdrew from friends and family. What if they said something that was full of truth and helped me heal? I didn’t want to. I wanted to hold on to her. I wrongly assumed I couldn’t have both. Thus, I clung to her instead of healing.
But then that wise friend said the thing that I just couldn’t let go of. Something that I didn’t really want to let sink in but it did anyway. Audrey is absolutely and will forever be a part of my story.
My dad emailed me after I had a conversation with him and my mama about some of this. He typed a simple truth and brought such comfort over me because I believe it:
“Healing does not mean loving less or forgetting. It is His way. I pray He will free you from any guilt or other negative thoughts that work to pull you down. You have done this well, you have honored Audrey beyond words. You gave her life and loved her well. You did all you could and more than could be expected. That love will never cease. You will never lose sight of the balloons. It is okay to find joy in the journey again. That will honor her memory. We must choose to live while we are alive.
I think if Audrey had words, she would say, “Thank you, Mommy and Daddy. You tried so hard. I love you and look forward to the day when we get to be together again. Until then, I am so happy and whole. You be happy too, Mommy, Daddy and brother Cooper. It’s okay for you to be joyful.”
Gulp. It is really okay?
Yes in fact, I’m learning it is.
The most beautiful part? My daughter feels just as real now as she did when I was stuck and using pain as my security blanket. I get to have her forever.
Audrey’s life makes me feel more whole as a person. I understand a depth of pain and darkness I simply couldn’t know before. I felt and continue to feel a closeness with Him because I allowed Him to be in control. I no longer fear the unknown because we have survived it. I now understand loss.
And that’s just a “whole” for now. God only knows what is to come. I welcome the good, the bad, the sickness and the health with open arms. I will not run, I will not hide.
We have a special event coming up later this month as a fundraiser for Wings for Audrey. We will share details in the coming weeks. As of today, we have all raised an incredible $46,927! Who might your donation save? How many more days, weeks or months might the research give to a baby in need? We will see, warriors, we will see.
Love + Hugs,