Claire's 3rd Birthday: A Quiet Reminder
Sunday would have been Claire’s 3rd Birthday, but how do you celebrate someone’s birthday when they are not here? Birthdays are filled with joy, but honestly that is not the emotion I find myself filled with. We could get together with family, share stories of Claire, and reminisce about her lively spirit; but I am just not ready for that. I miss her so much that it is hard to remember her without a sharp pain in my soul. So what do we do? Should we watch videos of her, sift through old pictures, and cry all day? I don’t want to be grief stricken either. I never want to forget her, I never want to avoid her memory, but I long for the day my husband and I can be filled with the happiness she brought us the day she was born when we take the time to reflect on all that she meant to us. I long for the day my tears will turn to smiles, my angst and turmoil will give way to complete peace and comfort. I long for the day that my heart does not skip a beat when someone asks me if Derek is my only child.
August 30 is just another quiet reminder of what we have lost like the empty pink swing that blows in the breeze while hanging from a tree in our back yard. Her highchair still sits empty at our dinner table, and her pink toothbrush still sits among ours in the cup on the bathroom sink. I also have a Cheerio that I found in the laundry a few months after she passed. When I see the Cheerio it reminds me of her quirky personality and the way she would refused to eat the broken ones. She would squeal in delight when the Cheerio would mysteriously stick to her finger tip. This simple circle also brings to memory the side effects she endured while taking steroids. Claire would wake up ravenous during the night, so I would keep a container of Cheerios near the bed. She would sit up and eat handfuls with eyes closed before returning to sleep satisfied. The memory triggers are endless, and some days I feel like my life is one large post it note that says, “Claire was here”.
Last year as August 30th approached I was filled with anxiety. What will the day feel like? What do others expect of us? How do we honor her memory appropriately? How will we survive the day? The answer to all those questions is the same this year as it was last year, I just don’t know. This year we approach the day with less pressure on ourselves and less anxiety. We are not concerned with expectations, and plan to keep the day simple. One breath after another, one moment to the next, sunrise to sunset. I pray that not every birthday is this difficult. One day I do want to celebrate Claire’s birth, making it a joyful family tradition for my children to remember their older sister. When my kids (Lord willing) are older, they will be able to fill the day with their joy and innocence allowing us to celebrate our first born again.
King David and his wife Bathsheba lost a baby son to severe sickness. Even though it was the result of their previous sins, it did not make suffering the loss of a child any easier. Actually knowing their child fell ill because of their wrong decisions may have made the death of their son even worse. David prayed, wept, and fasted for a week begging for God to heal and spare his son. However, when his son went home to be with the Lord, “David got up from the floor, washed himself, put lotions on, and changed his clothes. Then he went into the Lord’s house to worship. After that, he went home and asked for something to eat. His servants gave him some food, and he ate.” 2 Sam 12:20 When asked why he responded to his son’s death this way he said, “now that the baby is dead, why should I fast? I can’t bring him back to life. Someday I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.” 2 Sam 12:23 It is natural for us to cry, grieve, and mourn the loss of our child, but it should not be the end for us. We must continue not only to live life, but to worship our Creator. David encourages me to find a balance so that this pain and void in her absence do not cripple me, as they are now a part of me. Claire cannot make her way back to me, but I am constantly making my way back towards her. Living my life in the past, in what I have lost, in the pain I have experienced will not help reunite us. We all have scars of some kind, but the Lord desires that we use them to strengthen our walk, our testimony, our ministry in this world rather than hinder it. To honor the memory of my daughter, I am going to continue living life, loving the child I have been blessed with, and giving my life to Christ and the work he has laid out before me. Grief hurts, but I will not let it cripple my faith, paralyze God’s purpose for me, or cast a negative light on my life.
Happy Birthday Claire, our gift to you is trying to make the best of the life God has blessed us with until we are reunited with you and our Savior.