I’m sitting here at Hailey’s Place right now looking down at her beautiful little smile staring up at me. Gosh, I miss her. Her birthday is this Wednesday, July 20th. She would be turning 10.
I hate the days leading up to her birthday. They are usually worse than the actual day itself. I always try to tell myself not to focus on the actual day, but deep down inside I feel like I have to do something special or profound as if to prove to myself and everyone else that I haven’t forgotten. Of course I haven’t forgotten. In some ways I remember even more.
As time has moved forward, I feel that the wall of pain around my mind and heart has thinned out a little and sometimes gives me quick, slight glimpses back into those initial first days, weeks, months, and years without Hailey. I try not to go back and think about that sheer pain, agony, and heartache, but sometimes for some reason unknown even to me, I’ll allow myself to go back to that day. I can usually only handle the memory for a minute or so before my heart starts racing and I feel like I’m going to have a panic attack. I sometimes have a random flashback of a moment that will literally feel like someone socked me in the stomach and took my breath away. It never ends. This is my life. I realized recently that I’m living every parent’s worst nightmare.
Joey’s birthday was in June. It was so fun watching him get super excited as he anticipated that day, especially his birthday party! The joy on his face as his friends showed up and the even bigger smile as he opened all his presents and blew out the candles on his cake was priceless. Lexi’s birthday is in August. Just yesterday she asked me if we could start talking about her party. She can’t wait to make her guest list and plan all the details! She talked a mile a minute about all her ideas!
Ok, I’m crying now as I type this because where’s Hailey in all this? Her birthday is Wednesday. I want to see her excited face in anticipation of being 10. Double digits! I want to see her guest list in her own handwriting. I want to go with her to pick out her cake and decorations. I want to see the joy in her face as her friends arrive and sing to her and laugh with her and watch her blow out her 10 candles. Instead, we’ll be having cake at the cemetery and singing Happy Birthday to that adorable little picture on her headstone.
It’s not fair. Life is not fair. I HATE July and August. Every July I have to deal with the anticipation of one more birthday she won’t be here for and then the very next month marks one more year that I’ve lived here without her.
On that somewhat depressing, yet brutally honest note, I have to say that I’m surviving. Not only am I surviving, but I’m thriving and even happy. (As happy as I could possibly be without Hailey.) I laugh. I laugh a lot. But, yes, there is pain behind that laughter. A pain and sadness that will always be there, a sense of innocence forever lost. But, there is always wisdom and gratitude behind that laughter. Gratitude for the amazing blessings and miracles that have come from Hailey; gratitude for the faith and spiritual growth I have gained since Hailey came into my life; gratitude for the amazing family, friends, and strangers that have loved and supported us; gratitude that I have other children to continue to bring me joy; and most importantly, gratitude for a Heavenly Father who loves me and Hailey so much that He will never let us be apart forever and for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who made that possible.
As I sit here getting buzzed all around by flies, I’m going to end. I don’t really have anything profound and new to say. Just thanks. Thanks for loving my Hailey, and my family, and me.
Happy Birthday Hailey. I love you baby girl.