Handmade gifts are just the best.
Don't get me wrong. I love the lantern from Pier One and the Terrame gift card that Chris and the girls gave me for Mother's Day.
But I love, love, love the gifts my girls made with their own, little hands. (God bless you teachers who do this every year, making sure mommies get these sweet homemade gifts!)
This year, Ann Catherine made me this box and asked me to put my rings in it. Lily Baker promptly put her "Hershley" kisses in it.
Lily Baker gave me a bookmark with her precious little handprint on it.
And Ann Catherine made me this.
I teared up as I read it. I love reading what my children think of me. At least at this age, while it's all still good. :)
Later this morning, Ann Catherine came in as I was getting ready for church.
"Mommy?" she said. "Do you know why I wrote this sentence?" She pointed at the one that read "My mom will always be with me forever."
"No," I answered.
"Well," she said. "It's the same way I feel about Melissa. You know, how she's always with us and always in our hearts? That's how I feel about you."
I was speechless. I just hugged her and she danced off into the next room, oblivious to the mark she had just left on my heart.
I can't count the times that God has used Ann Catherine to speak truth into my heart concerning Melissa. There have been so many times that she has said the right thing at the right time to me. I don't believe that's a coincidence.
I had grieved Melissa deeply yesterday. As I showered, the loss I felt in my heart hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried. And I cried. And I cried. I felt a heaviness that I couldn't shake. Mother's Day does that to me sometimes.
I grieved her at church this morning as we worshipped. As I have so many times, I held on tightly to Chris' hand with tears streaming down my face. I'm telling you, that man is my rock. I am so grateful that he is in my life. I can't count the times I've leaned on him - physically and emotionally - in the last seven years.
This morning, when Chris and the girls gave me my gifts I thought my heart would burst from happiness. At the same time, there was a sadness in my heart. It's hard to explain how those emotions feel when they battle it out.
It's not that I'm miserable on Mother's Day. I am so grateful for Ann Catherine and Lily Baker and for the chance God gave me to be their mommy. At the same time, I miss Melissa deeply. So deeply it hurts.
That's why Ann Catherine's timing could not have been more perfect. I needed to be reminded that even though Melissa isn't physically here, she is here. She's alive in our family. She's alive in our memories. She's alive in our hearts.
She will "be with us forever." As long as we are separate from her on this earth, she'll live in our hearts. Her spirit will permeate everything we do. And one day, we truly will be with her forever.
I love how God uses my children to remind me of these beautiful and precious truths. I love how they remind me that I can have hope in the midst of sadness.
It was such a simple sentence that she wrote. It's something we have said to her countless times.
How amazing that she used it to teach something to me on Mother's Day.