As I looked over the canvas of our independence day weekend, painted with celebration and friends, I was swept up in the overwhelming sense that it is all so good and it is all just how it's supposed to be. The yard was full of friends, children, laughter, music, food and a calm that I'm not sure I've ever experienced. As I looked around to the faces of people I love so dearly I was sure they felt it too.
Summer is rapidly progressing. We are spending hot days outside, covered in water and dressed in next to nothing. We are embracing popsicles, lemonade, and as many days in the front yard as we possibly can. I see my children laughing and playing, carefree like they should be. Often I feel their heaviness; their questions and confusion but lately it all fades in the giant, delicate moments that the sunshine brings.
Braden is happy.
I have seen him flourish and grow into a young boy who is able to be himself without the constant scrutiny and structure that was often forced on him in the past. Rather than focus on the things that he shouldn't be doing, I have allowed him to develop into this little boy who suddenly listens, laughs and obeys. He is genuinely good. Good hearted, good natured-
A really good boy.
Mabel is the same.
Her cry comes and goes but when it is here it stays for days. This past weekend she was on her morphine almost every 3 hours every day. Essentially she is sedated although when she cries through the meds it is upsetting, to say the least. When she isn't crying, she is generally calm and such a joy. She is so beautiful, growing so long and still loves music. She enjoys nothing more than the stroller so many days I do nothing but walk her up and down the driveway for hours at a time (and I wish that were an exaggeration.) She is absolutely the most perfect form of joy, peace and contentment and as always, I am learning from her spirit in ways that most will never have the privilege of doing. I feel so grateful.
Harper joins us for our nightly walks often. She and Mabel sit side by side as they always have and she will sing and talk to her the entire time. If she isn't talking to Mabel, she's talking to me. She asks questions, tells stories and sings more than any 3 year old that I have known (except a red headed boy who is her soul twin, I swear.) She is beautiful, happy and fills my heart in ways that I didn't know needed filling. But God knew and I am so thankful that my days are occupied with little voices and little moments with her and the other kids. Because of life and all it has given, we are blessed to watch these kids share in a relationship they would have otherwise never had. What an amazing thing.
Nora is still having the hardest time with all of the transitions that our family has gone through. She is coping in her own ways, most of them including animals of some kind. Thankfully our outside cat, oreo, (who showed up last year out of nowhere and refused to leave) gave birth to one single kitty in our shed about a month ago. That little white kitten has saved Nora this summer and I am in awe that God uses nature in a way that is healing, as He always has. I see her in her happiest moments when she is holding or chasing that kitten and I can't help but say a silent 'thank you' that she was brought to us at the exact perfect time. I worry about Nora and feel so sad and overwhelmed that the little girl I once knew has had to shift and change to adjust to the things that none of us had any control over. I just pray that I can help her understand and grow through it all in the only ways that I know how, the ways that I believe are best.
The happiest and most joyful moments for me lately are the moments that are quietly appreciated. I tuck them in my heart privately and hold onto them in ways that I haven't quite done before. For as much as I lived for the moment before, as much as I believed I clung to the special moments before-I can truly say that it is even greater now.
There is a sense of clarity and strength in the privacy that I have created for the kids and I. We are living life in a way that is delicate, light and really quite stripped of everything that is trivial. Our days are full of simplistic, gentle, refreshing things. Our home is more peaceful than it has ever been, even with Mabel's crying.
Our lives are so rich and so very full.
Some of the hardest days are behind us.
Watching our family literally unravel and be torn apart was devastating for me because the dreams that I had for these children were once again shattered without me having any say. It felt helpless and was traumatizing. But what I have learned while traveling this road with Mabel is that there is no reason to try so hard in fighting what is going to ultimately be. Acceptance, in any form, is the greatest form of freedom and I hope that some day when the time is right and my kids are able to understand, they will learn that same lesson in a much easier way.
I accepted that my daughter was going to live a life that was full of suffering that I would never understand or be able to comprehend and that her disease would ultimately take her from me.
And I accepted that my marriage wasn't made to last like I thought that it was and that I would have to pick up the broken pieces of that marriage in the very painful emotional ways that my children would struggle with not only now, but forever.
I accepted long ago that no matter what I do in raising Nora, Braden and Mabel, they are going to turn out to be exactly who they are going to be anyway. I can try my very hardest to be a great mom and teach them lessons that are both essential, and necessary but ultimately they are going to make their own decisions in every situation that life hands them.
And in accepting those truths for my life, I have literally and wholly been set free.
As a mom. As a friend. As a now ex-wife. As a sister. As a daughter.
I am more 'me' now that I have ever been before. And I am more thankful for that than I ever knew I could be.