Saturday, March 10, 2012

Letting Go...

Many of you know we were blessed to go to Disneyland with Grandma and Papa (Andrew's parents) this year to celebrate Grace's 3rd Year 'Heaven Due Date' Anniversary. Disney holds a special place in our hearts as it reminds us of a time when our amazing church family (in Sidney at the time) rallied around us and a special family blessed us beyond measure by sending us to DisneyWorld for 2 weeks. It was a first Disney experience for all of us as Drew and I had never been before.

We were in a daze after Grace passed. Life was non-stop and down right frightening at times with her care, and our emotions had been on a wicked roller coaster as she fought and we fought for her life. Our first Disney experience was one of healing, reflecting, and re-connecting as a family. We went through the labor pains if you will, of learning how to transition from a family of 5 to a family of 4. We felt peace there, and for the first time since Gracie had died, we laughed as a family and felt happy in the midst of the ardent pain of loss.

We then went to Disneyland at the mark of Grace's 1 year anniversary. It helped being surrounded by the happiest place on earth - it balanced the extreme sadness that clouded our hearts. I have the most beautiful picture of the kids with their mickey ears looking up at the castle while holding Gracie's hat. It brought joy unspeakable to my heart knowing she was with us in every moment. Last year, we had just moved to the mainland, Andrew was in his first year teaching and life was too hectic to get away. We didn't guard the time well, and the 2nd year anniversary was a dark and difficult one for me. So this year we decided to go to Disneyland again, this time with Grandma and Papa! I thought I was ensuring an easier anniversary. I, being the oh so typical type A personality, had things all planned as to how we would best celebrate Gracie.

The trip was amazing. Having Grandma and Papa there was such fun and we made special memories that will last a lifetime! How blessed we are to have had such an opportunity to vacation with them!!! We had great fun making Daddy and Papa ride the swinging ferris wheel! We soared through the sky in rockets with Grandma - in the rain no less - what a trooper!!! Again, we had a fantastic time despite the little hiccups! My plans however took a turn after turn as things that I could not control kept 'popping up!' Between delayed flights, rain, wind, abnormally chilly temperatures, cold/flu bugs, cancelled shows, and closed rides, my lovely laid out plans became nothing but a confetti of disappointed dust right before my eyes.

Don't get me wrong, we were still in Disneyland and we were still altogether and made amazing memories! Yet, more than all the other disappointments that crept into the picture, what hurt the most was that my carefully thought out plan of carrying a balloon with us throughout the day, and sending it off to heaven at the fireworks was even thwarted. The fireworks were cancelled after waiting until almost 9:00pm with very tired kids which made for a very emotional good-bye to the balloon. After we scribed our love notes to Grace on the balloon and had the kids hold it and say "we love you Grace" they just couldn't let the balloon go. "It's too precious Mommy, I can't let it go!" Talk about heart-wrenching!!!! We realized clearly how the balloon was a symbol of release and it was so very hard to let go. There were no fireworks to distract us from the obvious pain and loss we were feeling in that moment. There was no Tinkerbell flying over the castle to divert our attention. The reality and the pain of missing our sweet baby became all too real in that moment.

We wondered if God was trying to tell us something? Perhaps we have reached another level of healing, a new stage in the journey? Disney was a place where I thought for sure the balance of happy would match the feeling of pain. Yet, this year it didn't feel the same. It was as if God was gently nudging us, reminding us to see that true joy and peace will only be found in Him. Escaping to Disneyland wasn't a bad thing, but laying our hopes and plans there-in is perhaps where I lost sight. I think for us a family we came to once again understand that He is the only one who can help us balance the pain of grief and the beauty in the present. And as the balloon sailed into the night sky (with no picture to document it because the battery died) we watched it rise until it looked as though it had caught flight with a star - which happened to be the second star to the right. How we wished we could take that flight with the balloon just to catch a glimpse of her in wholeness. We remembered her, we cried for her and for ourselves, and then with the strength of the One who holds our precious girl in His hands...we let go once again.