To know me is to know I have three daughters. I decided after we lost our youngest and while I was arranging her funeral that, if you are going to get to know me, you will know my heart is fuller than my hands. That I will continue to speak her name, even when it is so hard. When strangers look at me with that caught off guard look, I will still talk about her. She is a part of this family. She is a part of me. So, if you are going to come to me with a notion of wanting to get to know me, asking me those introductory small talk questions everyone asks everyone, I’m going to tell you I have three daughters. Three beautiful daughters. All wild and carefree. Maybe a little on the crazy side. Most definitely kind-hearted and ornery. And that they are my world. And, depending on how our conversation goes, I may just leave it at that. Leave you smiling at the thought of my crazy little perfect world. Laughing about how they must keep me busy. Let you hold the perfectness of what my life was, for seven weeks, in your smile, as you walk away. I might let you hold that for me.
Or, if our small talk continues, I might tell you more. If two of my three are with me, and you look for our youngest. Maybe you’ll look at me strangely when you ask how old they are, and I have to pause for a moment and think. Because part of my life is still frozen in time; when they were 5, 3 and seven weeks and one morning old. When our lives were altered forever. When the person I was at that moment died and was buried with our youngest. As the ages 8 and 6 finally fall out of my mouth, I will take a deep breath and tell you. I will tell you that our youngest is waiting for us in Heaven. That she would be nearly 3. That I’m sorry this information has caught you off guard. That you don’t have to worry about finding the right words in response because there are none. I will thank you for being sorry for my loss. It will be awkward and we may both fumble around with our words because I haven’t figured out the best way to say it all yet. And maybe you will suddenly be less interested in knowing me, leaving our conversation as quickly as you can. But as you walk away, you will walk away with knowing the biggest part of me. About what has made me who I am.
People have told me that they admire my transparency. But, really, I know no other way to be. I’ve always been one to wear my heart on my sleeve. For my face to tell it all. For being a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of a girl. It has been both my downfall and my saving grace. And, at this point in my life, I have learned to simply embrace this quality.
So, perhaps you’ll decide to stay, and perhaps you want to know more about me. After learning the very worst, you may want to know how on earth I’m still standing. I will tell you that, too. I will tell you about the grace of a Savior that has rescued me from the depths of despair. A Savior that rescues me on a daily basis, and sometimes, moment to moment. About my God of comfort. About all three of my children and how it is an honor to be their mother. And what it’s like to mother our youngest from this earth, while she is on the other side of the stars. What it’s like to be on a journey I never thought would be mine. And how I have fought to get to where I am, and where I am going. If you want, I will share with you all of the ups and downs. How the grief and the mom guilt can be so hard. How my husband and I have learned to celebrate the small stuff. How sometimes it takes everything I have to get out of bed. How we have learned to slow down and appreciate the moments. Even the hard ones.
And maybe, you will feel led to tell me your story, too. How you are still standing strong. How you were inspired to get here. What still inspires you. Maybe we can encourage each other and lift each other up; shout out the good we still see in this world and in each other. Carry our buckets of water together to help put out the fires, and scatter wildflower seeds across the ashes as we go. We can talk about how beauty can rise up from the dust of shattered yesterdays. Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t do this alone. That hope rallies in the trenches, and everyone has a story to tell. The important part is sharing it.