Dear Nora and Braden,
There once was a tiny girl who lived here with us. She was yours and you, hers. Yesterday we celebrated her life because it is so worth celebrating!
We wore yellow and talked of her, much like we do every day. Still, even these gestures feel small compared to the amount of love we all feel for her. What could we ever do to match that kind of love?
Death doesn't take away that love, guys. Just maybe, it even enhances it.
Grief is such a trickery.
It's wild and changing and cyclical and strange.
The two of you are really brave and very strong but your grief comes at different times in different ways. It is always, always going to. And that's ok.
I want you to hear me today about a few things.
One year has passed since your sister left our arms. In a way, a celebration of her life and a big event makes it feel like now that we have done all the hard 'firsts' without her, we should be 'past it.'
You may feel like the world thinks we should just move on.
The world is wrong.
Yesterday changed nothing.
It marked a moment in time that changed everything. And we will both celebrate that and mourn her forever. It is not a yielding of our grief nor does it have to be a distinction in the way that you feel. You will still feel all the things you have been feeling, and honestly-maybe more.
One year is no time at all to process the fact that the littlest girl, the light of our lives has not been in our arms.
I am just now retrieving alot of the memories that shock and survival stole from me this year. As they come up, it may all feel fresh and new once again. We may cry more now than we've ever cried before. Do not put pressure on your hearts to heal.
There is no healing from this loss. There is simply learning to live with the pain of it and honor her while doing so.
We honored her last night by lighting up the sky in her memory.
Aunt Rachel says that the song "Sky full of stars" reminds her of Mabel. Me too.
The sky full of radiant color, the sky full of fireflies, the sky full of a beautiful sunrise, or an unmatched sunset. The sky full of life reminds me of your sister because she once was alive.
And she lit up our lives in a way that we can't probably ever explain to anyone else.
Thankfully, we are a family and we just know.
We also honored your sister this week by asking people in our town and around the world to do one random act of kindness in her name. I had a few people send me messages telling me of the very unique and special things they were going to do for others yesterday. And then they were going to share with them the story of your sister's life. A little girl who now lives in Heaven with our Maker!
By living really big and very full, we can honor your sister every single day. There were so many things she was unable to do with her earthly body. I watch you both and I think of how incredibly lucky you are to do the things that you do. As long as you never take those things for granted, you will be honoring her.
The one thing that your sister could do effortlessly in this life was love purely. She was unable to judge others or treat them unkindly. She was unable to lie or cheat or steal. She was unable to say or do hurtful things. She knew nothing but the kind of love that the rest of us will spend our entire lives longing to feel, give and receive.
And God gave her to us! We are so so lucky!
As our friends and family gathered to eat, laugh, and surround one another, I hope you know that it is always for you. We want you to never feel alone. I want you to look around at the faces of people who love you and can help carry you through anything at any given time. In this life, God has equipped us with so many people who will never leave our side.
We have a village, kids. No matter what you face, you won't ever be alone. Just look around and know-you are safe and taken care of in every single way.
Sometimes this may all feel very surreal.
It may feel as if we are living two lives: the one where Mabel was with us, and the one we are living now. Please know that I understand. I feel that way too.
Sometimes it may feel as if the life with her wasn't even real.
Oh, but it was! It was so real.
It was real, and hard, and beautiful, and special, and sad, and lovely.
It was so many, many things that so many, many people will never experience.
And you have already lived so much life!
It makes me sad that you have had to, but I am also so grateful. I think that as you grow, you will become two indiviuals who will live life fully; recklessly even.
Because it's our only one and you know it!
And if you haven't already figured out that very simply concept that most people never do...you will soon, and my hope is that you'll chase after this life with all you have.
I hope you'll open your hearts, run hard after love, travel far, take chances, eat really good food, laugh hard every day, dig deep into the ground to plant something that will grow, grow, grow!
I hope that you will really engage yourself with others, fall hard into whatever you're passionate about, and stand up for something that you believe in.
I hope her life will light yours up and you will never, ever look back.
My hope is that through Mabel's life, on her good days and on her very worst-
you saw me live.
And that after her death, on my good days and on my very worst-
you still see me living.
I hope that you're watching and that you understand that though it's cliche' and often annoying to hear, we really do only have one wild and precious life.
Love, and heartache, and tragedy, and death, and joy, and sadness, and change...
it's all wrapped up inside of it to make something really extraordinary if we simply let it. If we choose to live it.
I miss her.
And I want to miss her as deeply and fiercely, and gritty as I possibly can. I want to feel the tears pour right from my spirit out into this world just to know that I have hollowed myself out in the aching.
Please know, that it is ok to do that while you continue living.
And loving. And growing. And changing.
In fact, you should do it all and altogether. It makes life rich.
It saturates you with the very meaning and essence of why we were created in the first place.
Every single day I hope that I can light up your world with all the things that help you understand that this life is ours for the taking. We should go after it, dig deep in it.
I hope you look around and see what I see:
a chance to make a difference, to feel all things deeply, and to live fully.
To really, really live.
I love you both more than I can ever say.
I am proud of you just the same.
You are two of my greatest gifts and you will always light up my life.
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