It's hard to sit down and sum up almost a month of my life but I'll try to include the highlights. Shawn and I had the privilege of spending 2 weeks in Europe on vacation with no kids and no responsibility. It was a much needed mental break and a true blessing to spend that time reconnecting and falling more in love once again. We had an amazing trip, enjoyed so many of the places we saw and were able to feel refreshed by the end. Sadie did well, although she sure missed us. She is already back to her old self and seems fine.
On October 4th while we were away I opened my calendar and saw that at an early time I had written, "Hope is 1.5 years old today!!" It was hard to see that and know that it was a milestone we never reached and I must have felt confident the day I wrote it. At least once a day someone on the cruise ship would ask, "Is this your first?" To which I would respond, "no, our third." At times it was dropped and life would carry on, other times they would follow with the question, "How old are your other two?" The only way I can explain the response is that a grieving mother is a bit of a schizophrenic. One day I'll respond with the truth of our situation, others I won't. I can't explain why one day is a certain way and another is not. Sometimes I would say, "we have a 3 year old at home and we had 1 year old that we lost earlier this year." Other times I would simply say, "We have a 1 and 3 year old." One day when an older lady followed that response with, "How is your 1 year old sleeping?" Shawn responded with, "She sleeps incredibly well...pretty much all day." It was simply a moment that we didn't want to grieve and feel sad. We wanted to enjoy our dinner and talking about our daughter dying in that moment was not an option. I honestly feel sorry for the people that ask about my children on my good days, they get more information than they were looking for!
People always say that when it rains it pours. That has been true of our new house. We moved in on May 1st of this year and lost Hope just 3 weeks later. During our first few days here we discovered our brand new washing machine did not work as a part was not connected inside. Shortly after Hope's death our brand new fridge randomly decide to shut down and we lost all of our food and the electrical board inside needed to be replaced. Before our trip our bar fridge in the basement stopped working, it was brand new as well. They had a repair man come out, discovered it was completely shot and refunded our money. Since the weather has changed we discovered our furnace was not working and our gas fireplace wouldn't start. Today the repairman came out and got the fireplace started, which is helping warm the house a great deal. Unfortunately the furnace is truly broken and a part needs to be replaced before it will start again. How is it possible that so many brand new things are garbage?? If it can go wrong, it has gone wrong for us with our appliances! I guess it keeps life interesting, it's never boring around here.
Last thanksgiving we celebrated at the Ronald McDonald House. Hope was in a stable place and we were able to take her out on passes during the day and even had her with us outside of the hospital for Thanksgiving. It was one of my favourite times with her in Edmonton. This year we have the pleasure of relaxing with family and not running back and forth to the hospital. We wish Hope was coming with us and would be able to enjoy some delicious foods in a high chair next to us. I'm sure the feast in heaven is better than we could create on earth. I usually find the holidays very difficult, but for some reason I'm not as bothered by it with Thanksgiving. I think a holiday that is set to remind us of all we have to be thankful for, reminds me that although our little girl is missing, we are still so incredibly blessed and have so much to find joy in.
While Shawn and I were in Athens we were sitting in a square enjoying some delicious Greek frozen yogurt. I looked up to see an adorable little girl behind a motorcycle. I pointed her out to Shawn and commented on how sweet she looked hiding behind the bike. As I watched her more closely I realized that she was actually behind the bike squatting and leaving a little pile for the poor motorcycle owner to find. It was an incredibly impacting moment as I watched her get up and walk away and realized that Sadie, who was close in age to this girl, would never need to do that. We could easily take her into a coffee shop and even purchase a drink if that was required to use their bathroom. Here I sat eating my delicious overpriced treat that I didn't need and she was lacking something I feel is a necessity, toilet paper. I was reminded of the children around our world but also in our own cities that are in need of so much. I decided that going forward I wanted to research the places we travelled to on vacation and try to find something we could do to positively impact the area we visited. Even if I'm only helpful for a few hours, I desire to have less selfish vacations in the future. I have often wondered if Shawn and I will foster or adopt a child in the future, seeing this beautiful little girl awakened that desire once again. Only the Lord knows what's ahead in that regard.
I look at pictures of Hope daily and continue to miss her deeply. There are times that when I talk about her I feel strong, but my eyes shed tears uncontrollably. You don't always get to decide how you truly feel, your heart will show the emotions you try to contain. As I follow other families with heart children in their journeys, I'm reminded that although some are doing well, so many continue to struggle. If Hope had gotten the heart we so desired for her, she may have still been stuck in a hospital bed. She may have still had to endure endless procedures and painful tests. I continue to believe that God gave Hope the choice, and that she chose to follow him home on May 21st. I don't blame her for making that decision, I'm only proud of her for making it 13 months before she decided she was finished.