Remembering Our One-Year-Old
It’s taken me a long time to get this post together about Felicity’s birthday last month. It was a really hard day and no amount of words I could type could communicate the depths of that.
But it wasn’t all heaviness, either. Grief is so paradoxical.
Orison really wanted to make cupcakes for Felicity’s birthday day. Incidentally, he still calls them “pupcakes,” and his speech pathologist mother doesn’t correct him because I think it’s too cute. I know he can say cupcakes, so I just leave it at that. He was very particular that they be chocolate cupcakes with pink frosting, “Because Felicity’s a girl.”
We had a nice lunch with Abraham’s parents and the ever-thoughtful Grandmama included presents for Orison and Morrow. And since Morrow’s too little to open one, Orison gladly stepped up and fulfilled his big brother role.
Then it was off the the cemetery with flowers, balloons, and the cupcakes. The weather was perfect, so Orison brought his bike, as he loves to do. We were able to nail him down for a few photos. Morrow was more easily convinced. This was my favorite one.
We tried to light a candle on Felicity’s cupcake, but the wind was too strong. Orison was consoled by us telling him that we would light the candle again at home and we could blow it out then. Orison and I had planned that our whole family would blow the candle out together.
There were so many deeply sad moments, where the grief was very intense. When Abraham set her little cupcake on the stone, I just kept picturing the scene that should have been. He would be setting her first serving of sweets in front of her on her high chair tray, her face either bewildered or beaming, and all the people who love her would have been singing “Happy Birthday” to her.
Instead we set a cupcake on a granite slab and tried in vain to light a candle for someone who had never inhaled or exhaled.
When we eventually did light her candle back at home, Abraham and I both could barely sing as Orison’s little voice sang “Happy birthday, dear Felicity…”. We hear her name so seldom, let alone being sung, and by the sweetest brotherly voice that God ever made—it was very emotional for us.
Orison shed his share of tears that day as well. It’s so interesting—he’s still trying to get a handle on this loss thing. I know he can’t always express it, but sometimes he does, and when he does, we get a window into all the confusion, disappointment, and dashed hopes that adults feel when someone dies, through a three-year-old’s eyes.
For dinner, our good friends offered to watch the kids so we could go out on a date and even gave us a gift card for the restaurant. It was wonderful of them. We spent a lot of the time reflecting on this past year, trying to remember.
When grief has clouded your brain for so long, memories are hazy. Most of the conversation went like this: One of us would say, “Remember this (fill in the memory/event)?” The other would say, “No, I don’t remember that.” Or, “I kind of remember that.” We came to the realization that we’ve lived most of this year in a thick fog.
Since her birthday I’ve been dealing with a lot of very deep, raw emotions that are surfacing. It’s been really hard.
I realized then that we had passed all our “firsts” without her. There would never be another first Christmas, first summer, etc. Though this has always been true since she died, and seems ridiculously obvious, I’ve felt it more heavily since her birthday: From now on, the time we’ve spent without her will just keep getting longer and longer. One year will turn into two, two into ten. And she’ll still be gone. And I’ll still miss her. I’ll still wonder what she would have been like. I’ll still feel cheated for not getting to cuddle her close at night during devotions and kiss her little face when I laid her down. I’ll picture her at whatever age and phase and long for her.
Felicity’s life, though short, made me anticipate life with a little girl so much. To have that taken away has been very painful. And as I look to the future I have a hard time trusting and hoping that God will ever give that to me.
It’s probably the deepest residual pain that I struggle with. So any prayers you can renew on my behalf for this would be appreciated.
I don’t say this enough to those of you who faithfully read and comment here—thank you. Thanks for coming around me and Abraham and Orison and making us a part of your lives. And thanks for welcoming Morrow. And thanks for missing Felicity with me. Thanks for your stories and letting me into your lives as well.
In the arms of a good Father
You can go to the deep water
Where the questions, we have left unspoken
Come out in the open
We will find shelter here
So I lay down, what I cannot hold in my hands
Every sorrow and hope spinning out of control
And here I find sweet resolution comes in letting go
And we will find shelter here
Sandra McCracken, Shelter