I sailed into May with a light heart. We were busy with life and vacation plans and visiting friends and the kind of busy that is good. I felt like I was in a great place emotionally and spiritually. Life without Ella had come to a good place- we talk about her, look at her pictures, and smile.
And then May came.
It started with a trip down south. While I love that part of our lives and I love how happy my husband and kids feel when they are there, there is a sadness that's hard to explain. I was pregnant with Ella there. We had no idea that we wouldn't bring her home. We planned on returning there with her and having three littles running around that little cabin in the woods.
It took a few days for me to get those emotions and feelings out. While all that was happening, I also realized that last May we were getting ready for vacation but we still had her and were blissfully unaware of her diagnosis. And then I realized that May would be the one year anniversary of her diagnosis. It all hit me hard. And it hurt. A lot.
We went on vacation and had a great time but it was bittersweet. We did the same things last year so I often mentally recalled being there with a big baby belly and planning our next trip down with three kids. Then we came back from vacation and it was mother's day.
Mother's day is a sweet holiday. It's a time to honor your mama(s) and be honored if you are one. I didn't do a good job of recognizing our mothers this year (Sorry Moms! We DO love you so very much and we wouldn't be who we are or where we are without you!) I woke up in a fog of sadness that didn't seem to go away. To be honest it was a bit of a shock. I didn't realize how sad I would be that I didn't have my baby with me on that day.
I received a message from a friend that went out to many others and said something along the lines of 'think of how you've been blessed this past year and know this next year will be the same!" I know that God has been with me this past year. I know that. Without Him I cannot imagine how we would have fared, but I do not want to ever repeat this past year. The last 12 months have been the hardest of my life and at times I really did not think I would survive it. This time last year I was in shock, and felt like I was literally going to fall apart. And we hadn't even lost her yet.
So, it's been a few weeks/days since our trip south, since our vacation, and a whole year since we first heard the words "Trisomy 13". While I so naively thought that the "heavy grief" had passed, I now realize that I still have more to come. And it's never really going to leave. It's always going to be a part of me. I will probably always ache for Ella on Mother's day. I will always remember certain days with sadness. Maybe not as heavily-probably not as heavily, but she will always be with me and in my thoughts.
But praise the Lord that his mercies are NEW every morning. While I have felt such pain in this past year I have also felt Christ's love in ways I would have never imagined. I have experienced the power of His word that has given me endless comfort. I have seen brothers and sisters in Christ step forward and do whatever we needed. I have had dear friends and family jump in and take care of Grace and Graham, or make meals for us, or gift us with sweet reminders of Ella. I have shared tears with loved ones when words cannot speak for us. I have been reminded that she isn't forgotten by a little card in the mail, or a text, or a hug or just a mention of her name. Grace and Graham have a connection with their sister (that they never even met!) that brings me joy and cements her place in our family forever.
What I have noticed lately is that I have a new understanding of things I never necessarily wanted but it's given me a way to connect with others and hopefully be more loving, understanding, and caring in return. I want to be the person that brings a meal, or sends a card, or offers a hug. I want to be the person that shares a name of a loved one in heaven and brings a sweet moment of happiness to someone who is hurting. I want to remember dates that are important to others and be the hands and feet of Christ. I have a long long way to go to get there, but if Ella's life has changed me, Lord let this be one way for the better.