How do you introduce a 5 week old baby to her older twin sisters, who unfortunately, are no longer on this earth?
I don't know either, but we did.
Since the weather was so nice today, we decided to make the trip to the memorial gardens where Allison Elizabeth and Emily Ann are buried (you can read their story here and here). It was a strange sensation, pulling into the gardens with Anna Claire in the backseat, knowing that we were going to be sitting at the graveside of our other two daughters in just minutes. I wasn't sure what I was expecting to feel. Would I be sad? Would there be some happiness in knowing that we had Anna Claire with us there this time? Would there be guilt because I felt that happiness? What would Mike feel? Would there be tears? Of course, there always are.
What struck us both is that it will have been 2 years in September since they were born. It seems like so long ago that they were born. So long ago that we sat at the same spot and said goodbye. So long ago that we weren't sure if we would be able to catch our breath from the devastation that had entered our lives. But oh, the hope I grabbed onto in those days, these days too. Yes, I am sad. Yes, I miss them. Terribly. Some days it hurts, some days it doesn't. My arms still ache for them. Every day though, I think of them.
There will come a day and time when Anna Claire is old enough to know and understand the story of her sisters. Until then, it might only be from their framed footprints and the trips to the memorial gardens that she is aware of who they were. I know there will never be stories that start with, "before you were born, your sisters...."But I want her to know how they changed us and how their lives touched so many others. How their lives made her parents not take anything for granted. And how hopefully, from loving and losing them, we are better parents.
I overheard Mike talking to Anna Claire the other day about her sisters. He was telling her they aren't here but that one day she would get to meet them because they were in heaven. I thought to myself when I heard him, that it seemed so far away when we would be reunited, when we would finally all be together. That day when I would be able to hold all of my babies in my arms at one time.
For today though, for a short time, our family was together. ALL of us. Our WHOLE family. A man, his wife and their three daughters. Some of us were there in body, some in spirit. But we were all there, for the first time. It felt good. It felt right. It felt holy.