Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fall Family Fun Day Reimagined

Even before I saw the 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test in December, I knew I wanted to be a family with neat traditions. I wanted to make beautiful memories with my family and create fun and joyful moments each and everyday. I still feel that way. I might not have Hadley anymore, but I can try and be that type of person as a wife to AJ and as a teacher to my 26 kids. I had a wonderful childhood and my family created those types of memories for me. My mom even left me a scavenger hunt with a prize at the end when she visited me in college. I was 20 years old!  Jen Hatmaker writes in her book For the Love that she wants her children to look back on their "family years" and remark, "That was SO MUCH fun." #goals (hashtag added my me). 

One of the things I was most excited about was "Fall Family Day." I knew the day would morph and change as our family grew and changed. Pumpkin patch visits, hayrides, and apple picking would morph into checking Hadley out of school on some random afternoon in the fall and having an entire day of "fall fun": pumpkin picking/carving, maybe buy some scarves and/or boots as she got older, and of course, my idea of a perfect fall day has to include Starbucks. I vowed when I was pregnant that every year I would have my first Pumpkin Spice latte of the season with Hadley. Not on my way to work, not a quick drive through for it, but with her, in the store, savoring each other's company and fall goodness. And since latte consumption is frowned upon for young ones, she'd have a pumpkin muffin or something. But she might hate pumpkin, so cake pops are always an option too. 

It sounds silly, but that horrible Thursday in the middle of June when we heard words like "withdraw care," "brain damaged," "stroke and seizure" for the first time, my mind, while a blur of sorrow of complicated emotions, thought clearly: What about Fall Family Fun Day? What about....all of it?!  I've heard it said that when a baby dies, it's not just the baby stage you lose, but a whole lifetime. I thought of Hadley's wedding she would never have as I put her lace headband on her head on her last day on Earth. I thought of Disneyland trips, first days of school, visits to the zoo, family walks, and of course, Fall Family Fun Day. We are 3 months beyond Hadley's time here on Earth and it's been interesting how this year has taken shape. There's been so many tears, but laughter, too, firmly gripping to what I am lucky enough to call my own, like a family, my husband, our home, my job, friendships, and unexpected but very welcome pockets of joy and grace. There was only one option: I was determined to still have Fall Family Fun Day. It wouldn't look at all like I imagined (Propping Miss Thang up against a pumpkin and taking 1290230 pictures of her)...But we could celebrate in our own way. 

This loss/grief stuff is so personal: we do what works for us. So Saturday morning we headed out to Hadley's site at the cemetery and sipped pumpkin spice lattes and enjoyed pumpkin bagels. It was a gorgeous fall day, cool, crisp, breezy. We laid out on a picnic blanket and listened to the beautiful sounds of the wind chime we placed on the tree above her. The sky was clear and the view of the mountains was gorgeous. In that moment, heaven felt close by and I looked at AJ and I in amazement: Who would have thought? A year ago, I might have thought a pumpkin-themed breakfast in a cemetery might be weird, morbid even. But it's where we are in our life now. The world keeps spinning, our hearts keep beating, and we search for ways to live with a piece of our family in heaven. I love you, my little pumpkin. 

No comments:

Post a Comment