It seems like yesterday. And yet, somehow, 24 years have passed since we buried Katie. A lifetime ago, and only yesterday. Life moves on, we learn to experience joy again, but when these final days before July 13th arrive, it is always the same. I am back in that rocking chair in 1993, holding little Katie for four days while her beautiful spirit slowly left the body that failed her. I can feel her leaning against my chest, smell her sweet smell. I was selfish those last days as our family surrounded us. I didn’t share her much. I wanted to hold her for every last minute that I could.
We all maintained a stiff upper lip at the funeral. It was too painful, too much to bear, to lose her after just 18 months. We couldn’t go there, so we didn’t. If I had allowed the enormity of the grief to break the glass I was erecting around my heart, I would have fallen. Literally. To the ground. And I knew if I let that happen I would never get up again. So we stood strong in our grief. Our friends and family did the same. To my surprise and pleasure, during this time when most people would arrive in funeral black, they all arrived adorned in pink. It was her color, and without my saying a word to anyone, they knew. These beautiful Christian women who loved me and had loved her knew exactly how to love and honor her. They all wore pink.
And now here we are, 24 years later. Our bodies’ inner psyches are the most amazing timekeepers. You can be going along, thinking life is grand, and suddenly you hit a brick wall and don’t even know why. Last night as I lay in bed it hit me. Oh. It’s that week. These are the days. These are the days I held my Katie during her final breathing moments. Ah. So that is why I am so tired and want to crawl into bed and avoid the world for a few days. Now I understand.
I am trying to make it different this year, to let this be a growth opportunity. I think now about the young woman Katie would be, and the lessons I would want to be teaching her if she were here. And I think about the lessons she is undoubtedly trying to teach me from where she is, if only I would listen. And I think about the life I have been given, the opportunities and talents I have been blessed with. And I wonder. Am I taking full advantage of all God has offered to me? What example would I want to be setting for Katie if she were here? What example do I want to set for my nieces? Am I striving for the things that are most important in this life?
On Katie’s birthday in 2014 I shared some thoughts about what’s important. As I read that post now, I wonder. Am I living my life and following my dreams the way I encouraged then, or am I still just going along with the status quo? When am I going to make that leap, if not now?
“When we cherish our dream and then invest love, creative energy, perseverance and passion in ourselves, we will achieve authentic success.” Sarah Ban Breathnach
I don’t have all the answers, but I will never stop asking the questions and listening for God’s whisper. Life is short, and I do not intend to die with my song unsung. Katie deserves to see better than that from her momma. And tomorrow, I will wear pink.