I went to a great party this weekend.
The 20th annual Neonatal ICU Reunion Party was Saturday at Trinity United Methodist Church. This party is hosted each year by Huntsville Hospital Foundation's Angels for Children and the NICU staff.
The event is for two-year-old NICU "graduates." It's a chance for the babies and parents to reconnect with the doctors and nurses who took care of them. Last year was Ann Catherine's year to attend the party and it was amazing. It was such a milestone for us.
This year, I was there, but I was working. And while it was absolutely wonderful, there was a part of it that was really hard.
There were so many twins there, and it really affected me. I would see twins together and I would feel a pang of guilt thinking, 'that was supposed to be us.'
I think I realized Saturday that seeing twins will never be easy for me. It's just something I'll always have to deal with.
I came home and told Chris about it and began to cry. I cried for Melissa, I cried for the fact that Ann Catherine will never get to experience life on Earth with her twin, and I cried because I'm just tired of crying.
At that moment, Chris was holding Lily and he said, "Lily, go hug your mommy. She needs a hug right now."
And here came that little gift from God - the one who looks at me and just makes me smile - with her wobbly little walk and plopped right down in my lap. It was exactly what I needed at that moment.
God is truly teaching me something about grief right now. I've gone for months without really grieving and he has taken me through a series of things lately that have really forced me to grieve.
Grieving isn't easy. It's not fun crying and it's not fun being sad.
But I'm learning that grief is a journey. It's not something that just goes away. It's ever-changing. And we have to change with it.
I write about this, because lately I have talked to so many people who are reading my blog, and some of them have also lost children. I want to be honest about my journey, in the hopes that it will encourage someone else. I believe God allowed me and Chris to go through our experience so we could help others who are going through, or have been through, something similar.
I am so blessed that God put a friend in my life last year, who has been through something like this. My friend, Lesli, gave birth to triplets almost nine years ago. Her daughter survived, but she lost both of her sons. Her sweet daughter has become so special to me. I draw so much strength from Lesli and how she and her husband have taught their little girl about her brothers. We have laughed together and cried together. She is a wonderful example of how to cope with loss, and keep on living.
I hope this blog serves that same purpose for some of you who are grieving and hurting. You can't change what happened, but you can control how you deal with it. And bottom line: your loved one would want you to keep living. Not just breathing, but truly living.
I believe it's the best way I can honor Melissa's life.