Easter took on a whole new meaning for me when my daughter died.
I was raised in church and became a Christian at an early age. I knew the Easter story: Jesus died and rose on the third day. Because of that, we could have eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.
But I didn't really understand the enormity of that until Melissa died.
Today's message at church was a beautiful one. In a nutshell, it was about the hope we have because of Easter. Those of us who have endured unimaginable grief can have hope because of what Jesus did.
It was a tough service for me and Chris, but in a good way. We were both so touched by the sacrifice of what Jesus did and what it means for our family. Because of the cross, I will see Melissa again one day.
I was emotional throughout the service and as we began to leave, I began to cry. With each step I took, I began to cry harder. I was just completely overcome with emotion. As we reached the back of our church, I saw my dear friend, Tracy, who realized I was struggling. She pulled me aside, hugged me and just let me talk.
Because sometimes, that's all a grieving mommy wants to do.
She just needs to talk about her daughter, she just needs to say her name, she just needs to talk about how almost five years later it's still so hard.
Some people aren't comfortable with that. But true friends are. They let you talk about your little girl and they just listen.
I am so grateful for those true friends whom God has placed in my life.
When Chris and I got to the girls' classroom, they screamed, "Mommy!" and came running towards me. I dropped to my knees and just hugged them both.
God uses moments like that to remind me of how blessed I truly am.
Speaking of my kids, I am constantly amazed at how God uses them to speak to me where Melissa is concerned.
Today I had to be at church early, so even though the girls were coming later with Chris, I got them dressed so we could take some pictures. We went out in the front yard and took some pictures of them all dressed up.
After we finished, I noticed Lily Baker kneeling down in front of our Melissa angel. She said, "Hi, Melissa!" and just started talking to her. Chris and I were speechless. Then AC knelt down and joined her. Out of the blue, they just talked to her. It was as if my girls knew that this was a special day and Melissa needed to be included. I cannot tell you what that meant to me.
When we got home from church, we went out in the front yard again and LB knelt down in front of our angel, and said, "Hi, Melissa! What did you do today?" Then she paused and said, "Oh, really. Wow!"
I thought, what if we could talk to Melissa about her day? I mean, she spent Easter in Heaven! Can you imagine the celebration they had?!
Of course, our day couldn't compare to that, but we did have fun. The girls loved what the Easter bunny brought: a Hello Kitty basket, along with Hannah Montana pajamas for AC, and LB got a basket of Tinkerbell stuff and Sesame Street pjs.
After church, they loved their Easter Egg hunt in the backyard...
And we ended our day perfectly: eating dinner outside in our backyard. Or as my girls' like to say "al fresco" (according to one of their favorite Fancy Nancy books).
What a beautiful day God allowed me to spend with all three of my girls.