Thursday, April 11, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I held her small, limp body in my arms. My finger slowly trailed from her jaw up to her forehead. I counted her breaths. My lap felt the full impact of her small form, low muscle tone, and exhaustion.

I stared down at my beautiful daughter and thought, "This is not how today was supposed to go."

I idly wondered if the nurse was judging me for dressing my child in Christmas jammies in April. I felt my own exhaustion build into a tension headache. My wrist ached from the angle she was lying. My heart hurt from the events of the day.

Saying goodbye. Never easy.

Saying goodbye to an amazingly inspirational grandfather- a grandfather that we called Poppy, collected a ton of hilarious stories about, and learned more from him more than he probably realized? Difficult.

I wanted today to be all about that. Bearing the emotional weight of the goodbye, supporting my husband as he shed tears for his godly grandfather who so richly enriched his childhood and beyond, dusting off the ol' violin skills for a small contribution to the service, helping wherever I could, trying to find the right words whenever I could, remembering, laughing, crying- that is what today was for.

Addison took that to mean- "wake up super sick with a high fever and cough."

As my hand moved lightly to her hair, stroking-smoothing-patting, I thought about how motherhood never stops. As I readjusted her breathing treatment, observing her contented sighs in response to her ease in breathing, I thought about the demanding nature of motherhood. Not caring that today was stressful enough without sickness. Not caring that I just wanted to go home after a long day. Not caring that I have needs of my own. Not caring that this was inconvenient and just a little bit frustrating.

Motherhood demands.

The doctor came back to check on her, and nodded with relief that she seemed so much more comfortable than she was mere minutes ago.

I said a silent prayer of thankfulness for my friend who oh-so-graciously said "Sure! Bring Addison by during the funeral. It's totally fine that she's sick." I said a silent prayer of thankfulness for a little boy who was riding the high of attention and free food- not caring that his cohort in trouble was not by his side. (Except for at the end when he started asking "where aison?" in his cute little voice.) I said a silent prayer of thankfulness for the list of medicines prescribed that would help Addison keep getting better. I said a silent prayer of thankfulness for the warm bundle of goodness sacked out on my lap- Christmas jammies and all.

Some days are like that-saying goodbye to a loved one, stressing over sickness, obsessing over small details that really don't matter, wondering if my feet will find the strength to carry me and the little girl with her arms wrapped around my neck all the way back out to the car after a long appointment, and fretting that the day was painted in complete rebellion to the carefully done paint-by-numbers that I sketched up the night before.

There are days that the rewards seem very small.

And yet as I remembered the roomful of family members gathered together to honor the memory of the loving husband/father/grandfather- I realized that those days aren't the ones remembered. Stresses fade into distant memories. Exhaustion isn't recalled in explicit detail. Sick children forget the pain. At the end- at the very, very end all of the excess that didn't stand the test of time is brushed away revealing the much bigger reward- love.

Love that causes an entire family to weep at the graveside for that final goodbye. Love that allows the life to live on long past that painful goodbye. Love that unforgettably binds together people that have very little in common except for genetic material. Love that sets on fire a determination to live life as fully as the example given. Love that demonstrates exactly how it needs to be carried on to future generations.

I feel very blessed to be a part of a family who celebrated that sort of love today. As I ended the day at the doctor's office, holding my daughter in my arms- oh so heavy- oh so sick- oh so whiny- I stopped thinking about my petty woes. And instead started hoping that I would be able to demonstrate that same  unforgettable love to my little ones. One day at a time- knowing that the sum of life is far greater than its parts of days.

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