I can’t even remember now if I said this here, or on facebook. When Kimberly was little, I used to tell her, “My little girl is the most beautiful little girl in the whole entire world!” She would clap her little hands with delight and laugh and hug me. So interesting how she just believed that so easily when she was tiny . . . and then it gets harder as you get older and the world tells you otherwise. It wasn’t about comparisons. It was just about her beautiful, shining soul. To me, she will always be the most beautiful girl – anywhere. On earth, or in heaven.
I am so grateful they got her monument in the week before it turned cold. I didn’t want the snow to come and wipe out the tiny marker and have nothing to prove where she was. Ryan and I went to the cemetery tonight, as at least I do every Monday night, to clear off her grave. Then I go back on Tuesday night, after the city has finished its clean-up day – sometimes alone, sometimes with her brothers or her fiance – to put everything back, with fresh new flowers. It was so cold tonight. One night in June I met another mother at the cemetery who asked me about my daughter and when I had lost her. She told me how difficult the first winter had been for her, worrying about leaving her little girl out there in the cold. Of course, this makes no rational sense. Unless your child is at the cemetery. Then, sadly, it makes perfect sense. I keep closing my eyes and reminding myself that her body is at the cemetery; she is in heaven. Where it’s warm. And sunny. And beautiful. Just before we drove away tonight, her angel lit up. Call it coincidence if you will. I choose to accept these little miracles as constant signs from her, to choose faith over fear, hope over doubt.
I think she would be happy with the monument that Chris and I designed for her – pretty quickly, actually, the week after her funeral. It just took a long time to get here. We both picked the same stone, so we know that was her. Now that it’s in, I’m sure she loves the way it sparkles in the sun. I traced my fingers over the letters in her name and remembered teaching her how to write it when she was three years old. Her name – Kimberly – had twice as many letters as any of her brothers, so we set it to music so she would remember it. Then she would ask me to sing the “Kimberly” song, and she would dance and laugh. She was always so incredibly smart.
On the back side of her monument we had a picture of a dancer engraved, a list of the many roles she played, a sweet thought on angels and love, and the words, “See you in heaven, Boo.” I don’t even know how she became “Boo.” It’s just who she was, from a tiny baby. The nickname stuck, and she loved it. She would sign things to me that way all the time . . . “Love, Boo.” Kimmy Boo. I have so many pictures and cards that are signed, “Boo.”
These things are treasures. They are priceless. Anything from her is worth more than diamonds or rubies or gold. Things she held, things she wore, things she touched, things she made, things she loved . . . things that look like her or feel like her or sound like her or smell like her. Photos of her. Mementos of her. But the most cherished things are the things I hold in my heart – memories, soulful, intangible bits of spirit – pieces of her that are just part of me.
Tomorrow is five months. The glittering silver scales of time wind in and out of days and weeks and moments with a quality that has become surreal, fleeting, dreadful and impossible to quantify. I feel like my heart shattered and stopped beating only half a horrible, gut-wrenching second ago, and yet I also feel as if I’ve been wandering in this barren wasteland of never-ending nothingness for millennia.
I have come to a point in the vastness where I feel weary of having my daughter’s life be defined by her death. When I first lost her, and realized I could not protect her, my next thought was to spare other families from this pain – at any expense. But now I selfishly wish to quit endlessly prancing on the soapbox of “anything awareness” and simply mourn for and honor my daughter’s life. I seem to have offended other parents and families in this wish, for which I do feel deeply sorry. But we can’t bring our children back. And so many of the well-intentioned “awareness” platforms seem frankly pathetic or even ludicrous when you’re watching from this end of things. You can’t possibly truly understand unless you’ve chosen suicide – or it has chosen you – or you are left behind in the aftermath. In the case of the former, any efforts are clearly too late. In the case of the latter – anything we say to those who assume they know what they’re talking about is ridiculed rather than taken for what it is. If only I could be so filled with self-righteous unfounded wisdom . . . I feel very, very tired.
I do feel grateful for good friends. For a career I love that I feel makes a difference. And most of all, for my children. I drive by the pumpkin patch we always went to, and cry. I see the posts of my friends taking their daughter’s children there now, and I know that is something I will never know in this lifetime. I will never look into the eyes of my daughter’s little girl, and see her sweet little innocent face looking back at me. I won’t hold her hand, or read her stories, or make cookies with her. I won’t play dolls or dress-up, or show her pictures, or tell her stories about when her mommy was a little girl. I try not to focus on the loss of that here, but instead on the hope of having that in heaven. And I hope I may look into the faces of my boys’ little ones here someday.
Either way, I think of pumpkins carved, and stories read, gifts wrapped and opened, trees decorated, smiles and giggles, trips to the park and the museum, painting and making cookies, birthday parties, dancing in the living room, singing in the car, making presents for people, playing games, and a million other memories that shine like jewels in my heart. I see who my children are now, who they’ve grown to be, and how many incredible, wonderful things await them both here and in eternity. I see the people they love who I also love and who are part of our family. I feel so immensely grateful for a Savior and a loving Heavenly Father who know and understand this entire eternal plan. Transformation into Spirit is part of the plan for all of us, not an ending. My sweet, beautiful girl just went first – because that’s who she is. I cannot remotely claim to have done everything perfectly in my life. I have made a million mistakes. But one thing I do know, is where – and who – my treasure is . . .
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:20-21.