It has been two years now since we set out for Texas from our home in North Carolina and unexpectedly “said goodbye” to AnnaLeah and Mary when our trip ended in a horrific truck crash outside Greensboro, Georgia, on May 4, 2013.
Just recently, a memory surfaced of Mary when we lived in Michigan and she was just a little tyke. I was putting one of her Beanie Baby dogs on my bed and it reminded me of when she used to get so excited to see a pug at one of the houses she delivered The Grand Rapids Press to in her section of our family newspaper route. The memory made me smile.
It got me to thinking about memories and what we have left to help us carry on. When we lose someone, perhaps what is initially on our mind is thoughts of how they were at that time when they left us–at that age when they died. AnnaLeah will seem forever 17 to me and Mary forever 13. But my memories of them jump all over the years (depending on what it is that triggers a particular memory).
My heart is full of so many good moments. Even painful or frustrating times (like getting tangles out of long hair or grumpy, girly moods) have a place in my thoughts which make them seem not as bad as they once did and worth going through all over again if only the girls could be back here with us.
It wasn’t my plan to have it be this way–to have those moments come to an end and only be able to carry the girls in my heart as memories from the past. But here I am, learning how to treasure those memories with a grateful heart for the gift Mary and AnnaLeah were and the confident hope of seeing them again.
Tears & smiles mercilessly mingle. Meanwhile, slowly and mercifully, new reasons to live and love and laugh beckon me ever onward.
Remembering AnnaLeah & Mary–the joy & the pain–with hope, we carry on.
Photos & video of our girls set to the song, With Hope, by Steven Curtis Chapman–a dad who wrote this song after his own tragic loss of his youngest daughter.