Honestly, I really wasn't overly sad. It was a different feeling that I had. A feeling of longing but also complete peace. I longed for Hailey to be here with me today. I longed to see her smiling face and hold her in my arms and tell her that I love her so much. I longed to see those sparkling blue eyes as we sang Happy Birthday to her. Yet, alongside that feeling was a sense of peace. I was at peace knowing that Hailey was here with me and happier than she's EVER been. At peace knowing that she got to have a double birthday party with us, her family on Earth, and them, all her family and friends in Heaven. At peace knowing that I was being watched over, cared for...carried.
An experience such as losing your child is literally life changing. It alters your whole world, your whole existence, you're whole identity. Yet I have found that if I choose to see the good in it, what little there may seem to be at times, the blessings literally pour out. If I choose to thank God for the honor of being Hailey's mother, here on Earth, and someday in Heaven, I am blessed to still feel her around me all the time. If I choose to trust in my Heavenly Father and the fact that He, and only He, knows the bigger picture and that He absolutely will compensate me for my sacrifices and faith now, I slowly begin to experience a sense of joy as we hand out "Halos" to those in need. If I choose to let Him carry me and walk beside me through my trials and grief, He grants me peace and comfort literally beyond any words of description. Choosing anything else is just not an option for me. I can't. I don't have time to be angry and more selfishly, I need Him! There is no way in the world I would be able to carry this load myself. I never truly understood this principle until I experienced the worst possible thing I could have ever dreamed of.
Now don't get me wrong. I am still human. I still have my days of intense pain and grief. Last Sunday, for example, I literally laid in bed until 4:30pm. Luckily, my husband is amazingly supportive and took care of the girls for me. And, I am already starting to feel the stress and anticipation of August 11th, the day we now call Hailey's Heavenly Birthday. But I have seen the miracles that faith can work and I feel the need to share those with you. There will be other times for me to share my darker moments, but not on my daughter's birthday. This was a day to celebrate. Celebrate my precious Hailey and the beautiful life she lived.
All that being said, let me share my day with you all. First off, the few days leading up to today were the worst. I struggled greatly with my emotions. The anticipation of this day was immensely worse than the actual day itself...which I've heard before.
However, then the blessings started. Yesterday, we received a card that literally touched my heart from top to bottom. The smile it put on my face is still there and the feeling of, "Tomorrow is going to be okay," was priceless. The card came from a family, with four children, that we had given a "Halo" to many months ago. In it was written, "In honor of Hailey's 4th birthday, please accept our modest contribution to her foundation." Along with the message were six stacks of four $1.00 bills each paper clipped together with a picture of something that represented Hailey! Under each picture was written, "Love," and the name of the family member who contributed. I was so very touched. I told Sean that they could have included absolutely no money, but just those pictures representing Hailey and I would have been just as thrilled!!! The fact that this family has kept up with my blog and learned enough about Hailey to know the things that represent her to us was so incredible to me. What an aMAYZing blessing and way to honor my little girl!!!
Today I woke up to messages on my answering machine, texts on my cell phone, emails, and Facebook messages all from such supportive, compassionate family and friends remembering us and Hailey. What a beau'ful way to start a day.
Lexi and I went shopping and bought two huge balloons and a bag of Lay's Potato Chips for Hailey's Place, along with some cake decorating stuff and little goody bags for our open house on Saturday. (We're having an "open house" at Hailey's Place from 11-1 for anyone that would like to stop by.) After shopping we went by Hailey's Place and found that some people had already visited her!
We hung out for a bit and then went to run a couple more errands. We stopped at a little food court down the street and I was frantically looking for a dime. I kept asking Hailey to send me one so I'd know she was there today. As we were eating, I was starting to get a little bummed because I knew we were going home after that and I probably wouldn't have another chance to find one. All of a sudden, I heard the jingling of change falling to the ground. My ears perked up like a bloodhound and I looked everywhere. About 20 feet away at another table were a bunch of moms with their kids. Of course, the kids scrambled to grab all their dropped coins, but I wasn't about to give up. I knew that was my sign from Hailey. So as Lexi and I left about 15 minutes later, I purposely walked right by their table. (I probably looked a little creepy because there was plenty of room to go around instead of in between their table and another.) But, as I looked down...no joke, right there next to the leg of one of the chairs was a dime!!! A single dime! I felt like one of the kids as I dove for it! The lady sitting in the chair kind of gave me a silly look, but honestly, I didn't care a bit! I found my dime!! Thanks Hailey!
Sean and I went to Hailey's Place a little later and just sat and reflected for a bit, which was really nice. Seeing her beautiful smiling face on that flag always makes my heart skip a beat. She sparkles.
Afterward, we came home to a huge bunch of balloons delivered from some family friends in Boston. What a surprise! I never knew you could have balloons delivered. Those were Ava's favorite part. I laughed as I pictured Hailey yelling at her, "No touch! Me balloons! No Ava touch!"
Lexi and I decorated a special cake for Hailey. She had it all drawn out on a piece of paper because it had to be perfect. She wanted it to have a little girl like Hailey walking toward Heaven. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. I mean, I'm clearly no Van Gogh, but it wasn't half bad! Lexi did most of the decorating herself, but I helped with the little girl and flowers.
Next, we all went to Hailey's Place to take some family pictures with our little angel and sing "Happy Birthday."
Our Typical Family Photo
One of the blessings poured down upon us!
Then off to dinner at one of Hailey's favorite restaurants, Souplantation. Our neighbors joined us for dinner since Hailey only knew them as family and we knew she would have definitely wanted them there! It was so nice to have them along!
After dinner I came home to a pot of flowers, 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke and an envelope full of beautiful, inspiring letters from my young women at church. I was in awe of these faithful, precious young daughters of God and the support they showed me.
I also wanted to mention a sweet message I received from one of our special family friends in Florida. She talks about Hailey all the time to her "almost" 4 year old grandson. They went out and released two "lellow" balloons in honor of Hailey and her favorite color.
Oh and one of the neatest cards I've ever seen:
How cool is that?
And on the back was the perfect, life size, image of a single dime...tails up!
We ended the day by lighting a number 4 candle and singing Happy Birthday again...then diving into Hailey's cake.
Honestly, the day really couldn't have been any better. The weather was gorgeous. Her place was serene. The blessings poured out. She was there.
I hope that when she saw her family she saw us happy and joyous for her. I didn't want to be sad and cry...I didn't want her to see that on her birthday. I wanted her to "visit us" and leave with the best birthday gift we could give her...our happiness in her honor.
I have to thank all of you who called, texted, emailed, Facebooked, thought of, prayed, donated, gifted, visited, etc...us today. Any gesture of support and love that you may have rendered, whether small or big, quiet or loud, near or far, known or unknown was so deeply appreciated and important to making this day a "BEAU'FUL" one for myself and my family.
Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. May God bless you all for mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that stand in need of comfort. I am blessed.
It truly is a beau'ful day!