Once upon a time I had a Gracie. She was beautiful. She had big blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a smile that could melt your heart. She was a great baby that slept through the night. She loved to cuddle and rock, blow kisses, and loved dancing to music. She giggled at her brother and loved to follow him around copying everything he did. She crawled at 7 months old and was walking before her first birthday. Her first word was mama. She loved her bottle and her binkie and her favorite stuffed animal “bunny”. She loved yogurt and puffs and anything we gave her to eat! She was a good baby. Then she turned 1 year old and was surrounded by her friends and family for a 1st birthday celebration. She blew out her candles, ate some cake and cuddled close to mommy because what we didn’t know was that a very large, scary, deadly tumor was growing in her little body. A few weeks later she was diagnosed with cancer and our fairytale turned into a nightmare 9 months later when Gracie’s story ended.
It’s 6 years later and here I am sitting in my car outside the damn cemetery. This is where she is. This is where I have to go to “visit” my daughter. I’m sitting here in the car looking through the fence to her grave thinking of her and all she did in her short 21 months with us and am furious that we didn’t get more time with her. I’m so angry that her story ends here and that I don’t get to talk about the terrible two’s, three’s, four’s five’s, six’s and seven’s. I’m even more angry that her story doesn’t continue through her teen and college years or into her adulthood. It’s cold, the cemetery is locked and I sit in my car staring at her grave through the fence. I see snow covering the ground where she lays and her Christmas tree is frozen to the ground. I can walk in, but right now I can’t move because it’s cold, she’s freezing in the ground, and I’m so darn angry because she’s dead.
January 17th was one of the worst days of my life. It was the day we said our goodbyes to my 21 month old daughter. It was the day she took her last breath. There is absolutely no one in this world who is evil enough to deserve to feel the way we felt that day, the way I feel now. Six years later and I’m still mad, I’m still sad and I still have a lump in my throat and a hole in my heart thinking about what happened to my daughter that day. I miss her terribly and just want to have her back. But as I sit here angry and in tears I know deep down that there is nothing I can do to get her back. January always seems to hit me the hardest and I let it. I reaIize as time passes without my Gracie here that I can’t focus on the negative and sadness everyday, all year long like I am today. There is good in this world. There is Luke and Ava and my friends and family that make everyday a little brighter. I have to let January hit me hard and I have to hit it just as hard back to let my grief out now so that I can focus on the good and my beautiful family the rest of the year. As I sit here in the car and eventually make my way over to her gravestone I will cry, I will be angry, I will think about the horrific images I
still have in my head from that day and I will grieve. When I leave and when January 17th passes I will get myself back together for my family and for myself. Everyone is entitled to a bad day or a bad week like I am having, but we can’t let it define how we live. Gracie was robbed of her life and wasn’t able to continue her story, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. As mad as I am that she is gone, she gives me reason to try to live life to the fullest.
Even though Gracie is not here she continues to teach me a lot about this life we live. Life is definitely a crazy ride and we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. All we do know is nothing is guaranteed so we might as well give it everything we’ve got today. When I think about Gracie and the day she died I know that life is precious. So in memory of Gracie and in memory of so many others whose lives have been cut short let’s live life to the fullest and take time to laugh, listen to music, dance, be happy, cuddle your dog or cat, hug your children A LOT, talk (instead of messaging) your friends, go out to dinner, have people over for dinner, go to the beach, get together with family and friends, have a Sunday funday or Sunday family dinner, eat at the dinner table as a family, go for a hike, travel, do what makes you happy and change it if you’re miserable, GIVE GIVE GIVE to others (this really makes your heart happy), say I love you, and make as many memories as you can.
My personal goal this year is to try to do all those things listed above A LOT and to make as many memories as we can, not only for my family but for the foundation too. After Gracie passed away and I was left with all her toys and clothes I realized that those items were nothing without the person that comes with them. So I’m going to cut back on those material things and spend it on memory making with those I love because those memories are worth more than anything I can buy and will last a lifetime. As I snap out of the sadness that this month brings to me I’m looking forward to our families first memory making trip this year. I will not let January 17th get us down, but instead we will celebrate the day Gracie became an angel by having family time away from home. We will talk about Gracie, we will smile, we will laugh, we will make memories and we will think about all the love our Gracie girl put in our hearts for her and for us to give to others. Happy Angel Birthday, my Gracie Girl.
“The loss you feel when a loved one dies is not the worst feeling in the world. Missing them for the rest of your life is the worst.”