The first and the last

Neala,

Your birthday is next week. You’re going to be two.  How did this happen?
My mother was right when she said, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

You are really into Minnie “Moush” right now, so your party will obviously be all things Minnie.  Which is ironic because I’ve never been super girly. Don’t much care for frills or pink or big bows.  And I’m fairly certain Minnie’s wardrobe is mostly comprised of pink dresses and bows.

But it’s not about me, it’s about you. Since you love Minnie, I will tap into my girly side and try to be Pinkalicious for a while.

When you turned one, we pulled out all the bells and whistles.  Tons of friends and family came out to watch you smash cake all over your face.  I mean, that’s the real reason people come to these parties isn’t it?

This year I didn’t want to do a big party. I wanted immediate family to come over and eat cake in our kitchen.  Minimal decorations. Little to no fuss. But your daddy insisted we extend the invitation list.  He said we had to invite your friends and cousins to the party too.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a big, loud party with tons of people.  Last year nearly 50 people gathered in the gym of my parent’s church to celebrate your life.  There was cake, hot chocolate, games and lots of laughter.

But this year, I’m a little sad.  Because your PawPaw won’t be at your party.

Your first birthday party was his last birthday party.

Your PawPaw died 18 days after your birthday.

The same group of people, plus many more, gathered once again in the church.  But this time, instead of celebrating life, we were mourning death.

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This is a picture I took at your party.  I was trying to get a large group shot of everyone who came.  If you look closely, in the back of the room, PawPaw is holding up his hand.  He saw me taking the pic and waved.
This picture makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

It felt surreal to sit down in the gym just a few weeks later. Friends and church family served us a huge lunch after the funeral.  Because that’s what people do when someone dies. They want to help, but aren’t sure how.  So they feed you.  Lots and lots of food.
I remember thinking, “My dad just sat at this table two weeks ago. How is it possible we are here without him?”

The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time. But there’s a bit of sadness mixed in this Christmas. This will be the first Christmas without him.

This year has been filled with “Last year Daddy was…”
Daddy was here for your birthday.
For all the birthdays.
He was here for Thanksgiving.
For Christmas.
And everything in between.

I’m sad for this year to end, because this year will turn into another.  Another year with him. I won’t be able to say, “Last year daddy was…”
There will be no pictures of him from 2015 to look at. No memories to share.
“The days are slow, but the years are fast”, mom says.
This is true about raising children.  Is it also true about grief?

Now don’t start thinking your mama is all down and out and stuck in the mully grubs.  I am missing my father more than ever right now.  But, I’m still choosing joy.

You and Linky Link make it easy most days.
When you run around the kitchen island eleventy seventy times, laughing louder and harder with each lap.
When Lincoln smiles and his chubby cheeks nearly push his eyes closed.
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When you repeat everything we say in the sweetest little voice I’ve ever heard.  (Today you heard JoJo say, “Shoot” and you repeated it. Hysterical!
When you talk jibber jabber to Lincoln and he laughs so hard his whole body shakes.
When daddy gets you in the morning and brings you into our bed to cuddle with me.  (my fave)
When your dad lets you eat half a cupcake (even though it’s not organic. gasp!) at your cousin’s birthday party and you can’t stop smiling.


When I grieve the loss of my father, my joy seems to slowly leak out.
When I think of the memories you will never make with him, my heart feels small.

But you, sweet girl.  You and all your sassiness and curiosity.  You fill my heart up. You make it feel big and full again.

I’m so glad God chose me to be your mother. He knew I would need you.
Thanks for filling mama up.

Happy Birthday Neesy Reesy.


 

 

 

 

 

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