I had been convinced that I was going to have Olive on the 26th. That date just stood out to me as "the day". We obviously know now that it wasn't meant to be her birthday, but my brain often tries to play tricks on me, telling me that if she had been born this day she'd be alive. I know that's not true, but sometimes it's difficult to turn off those thoughts.
My husband was getting some yard work done and I was scrolling through Facebook, maybe golf or a race was on the TV- nothing super exciting, I remember that much at least. I recall reading a post that a friend from grade school, who was currently serving in Afghanistan, had lost her husband early that morning in a fatal car crash, leaving behind her and her two children. In my hormonal condition I recall breaking down in my living room. I thought, "how could God let this happen to her?" It seemed so unfair, so unimaginable. I remember the next few days would be spent following her on Facebook as she tried to make her way home from the war torn country she was stationed in to her new war torn life that awaited her in the states. I could not stop hurting for her and those precious babes.
Little did I know that my own worst nightmare was just a few days away.
July has been hard for me. As soon as the calendar hit July 1 I could feel myself panicking a little bit. This was the month that I met and lost my daughter. Getting through this month meant that we had survived a whole year of this, and part of me was feeling as though I would be forced to move on. So much life has been lived in this year- so many life lessons learned, faith lessons learned, marriage lessons learned. With a new baby on the way I feared that many would view Olive's first birthday as a day for me to leave the grieving behind and begin to prepare for the next phase.
I recognize now that isn't true. There is no real moving on, sure life goes on, but there will always be a part of my heart missing, memories that creep in when I least expect them to, tears that fall when I'm not prepared. There is no way to erase this, no matter how many more life experiences are to come or how many more babies we have.
She is a part of me, a part of this family and while her birthday is certainly a reminder of what we no longer have, it's also a beautiful reminder of everything she gave us. Love, patience, a new compassion for others, and wonderful new friends in this gigantic community of parents who have experienced some of life's most horrific, complex but beautiful journies.
There is no telling what Wednesday will bring us. The next few days will be days that I know will stop me in my tracks as I recall something I did, felt or said as I prepared to meet this little creation. I ask for your prayers and also your support. Many of you have traveled this year long journey with us, and we know that your hearts are hurting and healing along with ours. Your love and friendship have, no doubt, helped to get us through some of the worst of times. Your faith-filled messages of hope and peace have reminded us to cling to the only One who will someday lead us back to her, to Him.
If you would like to join us in celebrating Olive's life, on Wednesday we would love for you to do something kind in remembrance of her. Shortly after we lost her people asked us what they could do for us and we told you to hug your babies, love on them and spend time with them. That's what we wish for you to do on Wednesday as well. If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or other loved ones nearby, please post a picture to social media of you doing something fun together, using the hashtag #olivesbranches
If you don't have children or loved ones in your life, consider buying someone's Starbucks, leaving a note of love or hope on someone's car, cutting your neighbors grass, bringing flowers to a shut in, whatever it is- do it out of love and do it for the moments that you may not get tomorrow. Again, if you are so inclined, tell us how you showed love to someone with the hashtag #olivesbranches
We would also be so humbled if you would consider joining or donating to our Olive's Branches team to support Children's Hospital of WI this September at their annual Run/walk. The link to our team is below.
Thank you again, there are no words to share with you how each one of you has touched our lives this past year. We love you all so very much.