Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Moving Forward, Looking Back

Every now and again I find myself remembering what I like to call Little Addie.

Addie at age 3 decked out in her best princess attire.

Addie at age 4 making the shirt her dad wore with pride for so many years.

Addie at age 5 learning to ride her bike.

Addie at age 6 with a baseball cap on her head, glove in her hand, and gap-toothed smile across her face.

Addie at age 8 riding her scooter around the block.

Fueled by video tape footage, pictures in an album, or something as simple as a pair of Tripp's outgrown pajama bottoms, I travel back to a time when our days were filled with Dora the Explorer and nights were spent enjoying each other's company and popsicles on the front steps.

Lately, I've found my mind settling back into my old classroom in Gretna with a 7-year-old Addie by my side.

One of the perks of being a teacher was the fact that the buses would transport all the teachers' kids from their schools to ours after school. So there she'd sit, eating a snack, thumbing through her backpack, while kids who were there on their own accord (and those who were not) worked on their assignments.

She'd doodle on the board, sigh a few times, and eventually ask, "When are we going home?"

Ten more minutes, I'd say. And when those 10 minutes were up, it'd be 10 more.

And when it was finally time to go, we'd lock my classroom door, head toward the car, and more often than not, end with a conversation that went something like this:

"Mom, when I'm in high school, I hope I have your class last."


"That way I can walk home with you."

I know what you're thinking (it's probably what I and the scores of other people I've shared this particular story with were thinking too).

We all agreed that 7-year-old Addie's sentiment might change when she's, oh, 17.


What I wouldn't give to have 17-year-old Addie.

Even when I switched jobs three years ago and took an assignment at an elementary school, she always wondered why I couldn't teach at her school.

Now I can.

I recently accepted a position teaching at Addie's School (that's how the boys refer to it when we drive by each day). And as with everything these days, accepting that position was bittersweet.

Sweet because that's what she always wanted.

Bitter because she's not there.

Or here.

Addie, me, and my first teaching certificate.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Promise

Eleven years ago today I celebrated my very first Mother's Day.

With a baptism.

Exactly 11 years ago today.

I know this because around 7:20 this morning I found this:

When I was looking for this:

I was rummaging around for that beautifully crocheted blanket because, well, we had scheduled Landry's baptism for today and every single baby I'd birthed had been wrapped in that blanket on the day they were christened. Well, not so much wrapped in the blanket; more like accompanied to church by the blanket because, let's face it, the blanket kinda smells. 

That's because it's old. My mom actually wrapped me in the blanket 30-some years ago for my baptism.

On Mother's Day.

And 11 years ago I'd wanted to do the same thing.

So we did.

And it was a super-big deal.

Family galore. A gathering afterward. Pictures. The whole bit.

Six short days ago I'd gotten this crazy idea that we should do the exact same thing for Landry (minus the gathering and the pictures and the whole bit).


I don't know.

It just felt right.

And when so many things feel just plain wrong, if something feels even a little bit right, we jump on it. We know Landry deserves the exact same childhood that the other three have had. We know that. But knowing and doing are two entirely different things.

Doing is hard.

But lucky for us, it doesn't take a whole lot to set up a baptism (on our end anyways).  It might be a different story for the church. Lucky for us, we have a very understanding pastor.

We just had to dial up our moms and dads, search for something to wear that fits, and find that blanket.

Except I totally forgot about the blanket until 7:20 this morning.

That's when panic set in.

And I had to dare myself to sift through a tote or two in our storage room.

Like this one:

It was marked "Addie's Keepsakes" and I'd started it years ago. Among its contents are her going home outfit, her first swimming suit, a handful of sleepers, a handprint, and a book titled I'm a Big Sister. So yeah, basically a time bomb waiting to go off.

And it did.

Especially when I pulled out her baptism banner and realized my daughters were being baptized on the exact same date. Of course I'd planned for it to be on Mother's Day (what with the stinky blanket tradition and all), but the same date?  That wasn't planned (as evidenced by my desire to crawl right back into bed this morning).

But, like always, we put ourselves back together, got to church on time, and got it done.

Flowers for Addie in the background.

Even though we kept this one a little low-key, I have to say that this baptism really meant something.

Not that the others didn't, but when you have someone (and a child at that) who is living the eternal life promised during baptism, you kind of pay a little bit more attention. After all, it's not just words on a page. It's a promise.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

One Year (and one week in review)

Time's a funny thing when you're dealing with a loss.

It's been 410 days since I last heard my daughter laugh, felt her hand in mine, twirled her hair between my fingers. On one hand it feels like it was just yesterday. On the other, well, it feels like it was a million years ago.

And I hate that.

I hate everything about this actually.

And every day for the past 35 days I've hated that I've been in such a downward spiral that it's been all but impossible to share the wonderful ways so many people remembered our daughter a year later.

Wonderful. Ways.

Here's just a few:

Letters and cards to let us know you haven't forgotten.

You still love us. Pray for us. Ache for us.

A birthday candle.

A birthday cake.

A package of Golden Oreos.

An angel pin.

And more.

Letters from Addie's classmates.

A scrapbook filled with memories.

And a beautiful balloon release to mark what should have been Addie's 11th birthday.

As blue and green balloons filled the sky, two little boys led a gaggle of 10 and 11 year olds across our yard and into the alfalfa.

Together we watched and watched as the last of the balloons disappeared from sight (and presumably into the hands of our little girl).

And we watched as groups of three, sometimes four, girls broke off into groups around our yard. To talk. To cry. To remember.

Later that night we celebrated Addie's birthday as a family.

And what about that run?

More than 600 of you came out that day to remember Addie, support two wonderful causes, and show us once again how much you care.

I'm not sure words can describe that day, so I won't even try.

I'll just leave you with this video and two words.

Thank you.