I've crossed into a new place, it seems. The place where I have funny, smart, five year old twins, AND a beautiful baby girl waiting for us in heaven. I want to live each day humbly and graciously, while never passing up an opportunity to tell people about Mila and the new life she gave me. I feel more optimism and purpose, like I'm ready for God to use me and my story for a greater purpose.
It's surprising to me that, in these nineteen days, I haven't had a really tough day. Usually, there's at least one day every couple of weeks when I miss Mila so much I can't move. I weep for her, and I long to hold her in my arms. Maybe I'm comforted by her presence more these last few weeks, or maybe I'm waiting to be done with my experiment in 'living' so I can really let it out. I'm not sure what this is about. My fear is that, now that the first year has passed, the sting of losing a child will fade. Our experience seems to have vanished for some of our close friends and family. I was surprised by those who never mentioned Mila's birthday or the fact that I am alive and well one year later. On such a sad, yet triumphant, occasion, those people who once prayed and wept for our family appear to be over it. This, if anything, is what has been the most painful. Maybe these people didn't know what to say one year later. I understand. A friend who knows what it's like told me to teach those who hurt me so they will know what to do in the future.
So, some advice for those who don't know how to console or support a bereaved parent:
Make a phone call, post a supportive message on Facebook or Twitter, send a text, send a card, light a candle.
Tell them that you didn't forget, that you know what day it is and you're thinking of them and their loved one. Give a hug, say a prayer, and be grateful it wasn't you.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart."
I've continued to document some of our special events over the last week. Here are a few photos.
(And, please, leave my photos here. They are mine to share, not yours to have.)