Last week I quietly celebrated a milestone. One I share with my son, David. He's been gone for ten years now this past New Year's Day. Ten years we've gone on without him. Ten years that we've missed hearing his little, old man laugh. Ten years of family events, changes, and stories that he'll never know. Ten years that he's been whole and healthy, running through heaven, laughing all the way. He would have been twelve last week. Right smack dab in the middle of Matthew and Jonathan. Oh what sibling rivalry that might have been, eh? :)
Yesterday, another child joined him in heaven. Sydney, a beautiful, sweet little one who happened to have clubfeet had been out to see Dr. Ponseti in Iowa, was killed when her Angel Flights plane crashed shortly after take off. She would have turned 3 next month. Her mother, Christina, was with her. While Christina and the pilot suffered no long term injuries, Sydney died later in the day after her father was able to join them in Iowa in time to say goodbye.
My heart weeps for Christina. She has now joined the very private group of those who have lost children. She will know our private pain and our deep longing for what we can no longer have. She will have to balance the lives of those left behind with the memory of the child who has left her behind as she passed away, out her reach. She will wonder and go through endless what ifs in her mind. She'll dream about what she might have become had she lived as long as Christina dreamed she'd live when she first discovered that she was miraculously making another life within her own. She'll go through the blame, the bargaining and the weeping those of us in this very private world already intimately know. She will discover that time really does heal, but long before that happens, she will wonder if there will ever be enough time.
And in the midst of all of this, at the lowest points in her grief, she will begin to see that Sydney's life was full of purpose and joy. That she came for a reason, was here for a time and that, although she is now gone physically, she's never really gone. She will be a part of her life always. Nothing can change that. Not even death. She will realize that in Sydney's short life, she managed to touch more lives than Christina will ever begin to comprehend. That even though her life did not quite span three years, the number of people who are impacted by her will seem to fill a lifetime and more. And she will realize that none of us are here alone. There is always someone who enjoyed her laughter, loved to watch her eyes twinkle or couldn't wait to play with her another day. There will always be someone who will be willing to sit quietly with her while she cries at her loss and then rejoice with her as she shares sweet memories of Sydney, remembering even more as she talks. There will be sweet memories that will chase the tears away and suddenly, she'll realize that she's smiling again and it feels good. She'll find moments of peace and she'll begin to realize that her life is worth living and Sydney is cheering her on as she does.
David and Sydney lived their lives with all the strength, ability, joy and laughter they could muster. They would want us to go on. I am, with David's memories by my side. Christina will work through her grief and go on as well. Stronger. More determined than ever. With a dash of Sydney's laughter thrown in for good measure.