Today she would have been four.
I wish I could tell you that we partied and celebrated the day away...remembering our sweet girl, but that wouldn't be true. We did our best to plan a day that would allow us to spend time together as a family and celebrate Cora's precious life. But I would be lying if I didn't tell you that today was really tough. We miss our baby girl everyday. But today we were missing her like crazy.
I am finding as we face these anniversaries year after year now, that Cora's birthday is a harder day for me than Cora's heaven birthday. I think it is partially because along with Cora's birthday come all the happy memories...the day I became a mama...having a daughter...cheering Cora along with every milestone she reached...loving that little girl with all of my being...all the things I miss the most. And while we do celebrate Cora's life, celebrating this day without her is so painful. As we make plans and gather our pink party supplies the hole that she left in our family is so glaringly obvious.
I am also learning that I can't approach Cora's birthday with high expectations. I think Satan knows that we are weak on this day in particular and for some reason there is always something that doesn't go like I was hoping or had planned. Something that seems to make the day a little harder than it already is. Last night both boys were up in the middle of the night at the same time because of colds. That never happens. Usually Griffin is the only night owl around here. We started the day off very tired...all four of us. We were going to visit the cemetery over lunch while Joel was home but Griffin was sleeping. He really needed to sleep so we decided to wait until Joel got off work to go. And then this afternoon Joel had some things come up at work that caused him to be later than he had planned which caused us to rush to do the things we had planned before it got too dark.
Today I had to choose joy even when my heart was feeling sad and disappointed. Instead of dwelling on the fact that I can't be the mama to my sweet four year old daughter, I had to choose to be thankful for the gift that Cora was to me even for those short eleven months. She truly was a gift and changed my life forever. Instead of being frustrated that Griffin was sleeping at lunch and the day wasn't going as planned, I had to choose to be thankful that he was actually sleeping...even if it was in the middle of the day instead of at night!! :) Instead of being mad at Joel for being late, I had to choose to be thankful we got to spend time together as a family and make the most of what was left of our evening. Choosing joy can be hard. But I want to determine to trust God even when it is hard...even when it doesn't necessarily make sense to me. I had to choose to trust that He would give me the grace to make it through another birthday without my girl. And I will have to daily make the choice to trust Him over and over again.
But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, "You are my God!" My future is in your hands. Psalm 31:14-15
I am not telling you about today to make you feel sorry for me. Cora's birthday is what it is. Each year we are learning how to approach her special day and celebrate her life. And each year we are choosing to trust God again to give us the strength to face the sadness that inevitably comes with celebrating your daughter's birthday without her. But we did celebrate. And we had two little boys who brought many smiles to our faces in between the tears shed from missing their sissy. Here is a little glimpse into our evening of celebrating four.
The boys and I picked up flowers and balloons this morning to take to the cemetery. Levi learned that Cora would be four today and we decided she would like pink (because she is a girl of course). So we picked up four pink balloons and some pink tulips.
I love that Levi was excited to pick up things for his sissy's birthday. I love that Levi says Cora's name so clearly and talks about her turning four on her birthday. The Lord uses my little guy on these hard days to encourage my heart in so many ways.
We watched the balloons until we couldn't see them anymore. Levi sent them up to heaven to Cora. And then he decided he wanted them back. :)
Levi showed the flowers to Griffin and found the perfect spot to leave them for Cora.
We made it to Cora's Playground just as the sun was going down. We spent time just running around and playing together. Griffin was sleeping in the car and missed out on the fun.
We had to drag Levi away when it got too dark. We ate a late dinner out...Mexican food...because it is our favorite and would probably be Cora's favorite too, right?! And then we went back home, sang happy birthday and ate a few cupcakes before bed.
And that was March 5, 2012.
Happy birthday to our sweet Cora Paige!