Twenty-nine years ago today, I was holding my first born child, a baby girl whom we named Rachel. In those first few moments when we first lay eyes on our children, barriers break away, and we fall instantly in love; lending credence to the expression 'love at first sight.' As the days progress, that love seems to double each and every day; in our 'bank' of love, the compounding interest and the rate of return would blow any major investor away. But the love of a parent and child, for the most part, is unconditional, our hopes and dreams for our child, and what they can become, overpowers any doubt and uncertainty and we simply allow love to lead the way.
Is it an easy road, God, how I wish, but anyone who has had children, or ever been in love, knows that the road is rocky at best, and occasionally we find ourselves going in the wrong direction. Yet love, with all its joys and disappointments, is something to be cherished, longed for, and not taken for granted. It is because of love, that we hurt so deeply, that we find ourselves missing a loved one, that we long to hold them, just one more time.
When Rachel died, I felt as if I had once again given birth, I experienced the pain, but yet my arms were empty. There was no innocent face looking back into mine, only a void so deep, that nothing could fill.
Those of us who have experienced the death of a loved one, know all too well the pain that anniversaries, birthdays and milestone events in life, can bring. The missing and longing are so much more profound, the silence seems to echo our pain, we notice with so much clarity what is gone from our lives. As my day dawned, I thought of Rachel, and how at 2:30 a.m. this very morning, she would be 29 years old. As I took the dog out, I looked at her memory garden, and cherished the roses that were in full bloom, and marveled at nature doing its thing. Birds flew overhead, squirrels played in the trees, life was happening all around me, unaware of my inner pain or of my minds musings.
Yet, as I looked upon the scene unfolding in front of me, I felt no bitterness, no resentment, only an ache, a deep sadness, a strong awareness that even though my life had changed, life itself goes on. Acutely aware that I am accepting the fact that Rachel is gone, no longer a physical presence in my life, I allow her to be present in my very being; totally aware that she is all around me. The very fact that memories of her evoke smiles and laughter (fringed with some pain and longing), gently remind me that I have survived, that I will survive, and that I can and will continue to move forward. Yes, I may occasionally look back over my shoulder and long for what was, but I know that love will continue to propel me forward, allowing me to have the luxury of my memories.
Happy Birthday, Rachel.
Blessings! and until we meet again.