It's been quite a while.
Time marches on, doesn't it? Nothing makes it any clearer to me than looking at my growing children. Lily turned five years old a few months ago. She's tall, smart, sensitive, and sweet. She goes to pre-k and adores every minute of it. Anna will be three before November is over. She is independent, smart, silly, and has an adorable little face buried under a head full of blonde curls. They are our joy, our girls, the ones we got to keep. They constantly teach me new things about myself -- some good and some not so good. Parenting challenges me in different ways every single day, stretching me so far beyond my comfort zone. But each day I'm ever mindful of the privilege it is to do this job. I'm grateful.
Last month my little family did something we've wanted to do for several years. It was a beautiful, cloudless, blue-sky day that was almost fall-like in Southeast Texas. My husband picked up six balloons on his way home from the office, three pink and three blue. We loaded the kids up and drove a few miles to our favorite park, explaining to the girls what we were going to do and why. It was October 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.
We spent a few precious minutes taking pictures -- Lily wasn't feeling well -- knowing that we weren't trying to get the perfect shot. We just wanted some sweet photos to commemorate the moment. My dear husband, however, is good at lots of things, including photography. In just about five minutes, he was able to capture some images that made our eyes tear up when we looked at them later that night. The pictures represent to us all of our children: the six in heaven plus the two on Earth.
We let the girls release the balloons (coincidentally, Lily's favorite color is blue and Anna's is pink), watching them go up until we couldn't see them anymore. We talked about heaven. We hugged each other, and we returned home feeling peaceful about having done something tangible to honor our babies. It was a beautiful day, in more ways than one.
Of course, we still think about them. Forgetting is not what we're about. This family wouldn't be what it is if we didn't remember all it took to get here. The first baby we lost was due in January of 2003. She (Emily Grace) would be approaching her teenage years. The youngest of the six (Aaron Joseph), miscarried in January of 2007, would now be eight years old.
And we always remember.