I remember our very first moments together. The first calm after all the commotion and chaos of her coming into this world on her terms and holding her in my arms. It was just her and me in the hospital room, counting all her fingers and toes and taking in all her sweet, tiny features. The look she gave me as I stared into those baby blue eyes. Whispering to her how she will be our middle child because I knew then, even at that moment, that I wanted more than two and that we weren’t finished. Her story was going to be a part of something more. I just had no idea what that was going to look like as I kissed her sweet nose and pulled her in close.
And it’s an interesting dynamic, her story now. She is a middle child with her baby sister living “somewhere over the rainbow,” as she puts it. How she took to caring for Sayge in the weeks she was here with us, like it was always what she was meant to do—holding her—finding her paci. Begging to help change her diaper. Help wash her. Help with everything she could. She was so proud. And so in love. And too young to fully understand after she was gone.
Thinking we were going to pick her back up if we ever drove by the hospital. Or that the firemen were bringing her back to us whenever she heard the sirens. She stares at the rainbows, trying so hard to catch a glimpse of her.
And now she’s eight—my middle child, who is now our youngest here on Earth. And my heart doesn’t know how to handle it. I’m so thankful that she gets the privilege of turning a year older while simultaneously aching over the fact that she is another year older. Growing up and snuggling me less, saying my name less, needing me less. The one who obsessively clung to me after we lost Sayge. Scared she would turn around, and I would be gone, too. The one who just needed me to stop and sit and be with her. Who had to lay or sit on me because just being beside me was never enough. The one who kissed me a thousand times a day and told me she loved me even more.
I can see how it’s becoming less.
As her face thins out and her legs get longer, and the baby-fine hair starts laying more like her older sister’s, walking beside me more than asking to be held. My arms more often empty. No one is pulling on my hair or breathing near my face as I walk. Simply put, she’s growing up before my very eyes.
All I can think about is how I feel like time has been stolen from me. And the little girl of ours who would be five. And how I would be clinging to all of her milestones yet to be crossed as her sisters grow into young adults before her. Comforting myself with the thoughts that there is still so much to come. All the moments we should still be having that now, I can only picture in my dreams – what it must be like, completing those moments in Heaven, in the presence of her Heavenly Father, but without me. And I remind myself how that’s the better way to have it.
That just one moment in Heaven outweighs any happiness we could ever comprehend here on this earth. But, I’m not going to lie; it still hurts how my youngest should be five and not eight, how we planned this life of ours to look completely different than it is now. How I wish our Christmas cards had three sisters in them and not just two, plus a doll. How I would never have imagined this would be our story. Be her sisters’ stories. Our something more. But, in good old, such-is-life form, here we are.
So all I can think of to do now is cherish. I’ll cherish it with hope. Knowing someday, I’ll have eternity to make up for the time that has been lost. And, until that day, I’ll hold onto all these moments in front of me with all my heart. I’ll be thankful for everyone that comes with getting older and celebrate it with all we’ve got. I’ll eagerly look forward to all that, God willing, is still to come. And say goodbye gingerly to all that passes us by. I’ll make peace and let go of what will no longer be, so I can hold onto what is right now, to these days of being eight. To watch the excitement in her eyes as she runs wild and free with eight-year-old fierceness.
To her requesting, we all call her “Princess Sparkles” for the “ENTIRE” day. To watching her layout and change her outfit a thousand different times. All the great things that add up to her feeling like the special middle child she.
I’m going to be all in.
Relishing in all that she is and everything that she is becoming.
Discovering alongside her who it is God has created her to be. Learning how to be the best mom I can be for her. Soaking up every sweet kiss and, “I love you, Momma,” that I can. And celebrating that we got to put eight sparkly candles on her cake this year.
And I will be with our youngest in my dreams. Where she always finds me and shares about her days. I imagine all the adventures she is having and what it must be like to listen to the angels’ lullabies and dance among the clouds. I’ll see her in the wildflowers and butterflies and rainbows. In the dragonflies and ladybugs that land on my shoulder. In the pink skies and silver linings and everything that glitters. Right along beside us as we go about this life. Feeling her presence. Knowing she is there. Right by a little girl who claims her name to be Princess Sparkles as she dances around, making us all laugh and smile, the way every middle child does.
And with kindness and hope paving the way into each of our new days.