Soooooooo January 26th......it's my birthday....my 35th birthday. Wow....why in the world does 35 sound so much older than 34? As I was rocking one of my girls to sleep this evening, I was reflecting on what God has brought into and out of my life since I met my husband. I looked at our wedding picture and looked at that youthful innocence that is written all over our faces. I just stopped and stared at my face....how in the world can 4 years age a person so much. In our wedding picture there is a youthful glow to my face that somewhere along the way seems to have taken a back seat. When I look in the mirror now I see a face with a story. There are wrinkles that never used to be there....many more white hairs that have decided to show up....and yes...even scattered white eye brow hairs! AH! I guess life has a way of writing it's story upon your face...well at least my face. When I look into the mirror there are not those same care free eyes glancing back at me...there are eyes that have cried many, many tears....tears of sadness and tears of joy. My eyes seems to started to look like they have a really big story to tell....and they do. In our 4+ years of marriage we have had three daughters as most of you all know. Gracie was to precious for this earth and God decided to take her home with him. Jeff and I have to wait our life times to get to know her. We've cried many tears about having to lose her so quickly and the hurt is still there...we are just a little bit better at hiding it and living with it. There are days that trigger those fresh, heartache feelings...such as January 27th that is coming up...that was the day we found out we were pregnant with Gracie...it was the happiest day for us! We only had a few weeks of this ignorant bliss (as I refer to it) before our world started to crash down around us....our daughter had anencephaly. So as those milestone days start to pop up again on this fresh calendar year, one can try and prepare yourself as much as possible, but there really isn't a way to do that. It seems like the feelings are different each time...sometimes they hit hard and the next time they bring a smile to your face. Having and losing Gracie made us even more determined to have our earthly family. Along came the twins....Anna and Sarah. Wow...talk about life altering! Our house went from being completely quiet to complete and utter chaos! But what a beautiful chaos it is! Two precious girls that have stolen more hours of sleep than anyone could ever imagine! :) Two little girls that have made us worry more than we thought possible. Two little girls that have brought us more joy that we ever thought was possible. We both believe their sister, Gracie had a hand in there being two of them at once. They have taught us that we will never, ever forget their beautiful sister, but that we have to continue to live life. We have to continue to put our hearts on the line so we can experience the kind of joy that we have. These two little girls are little balls of fire and at 10 1/2 months old they keep us on our toes constantly. I'm not going to lie....I'm exhausted. I have spent more time in our rocker recliner than in bed since they joined our household but frankly I wouldn't change a thing. Are they the cause of the extra wrinkles and white hair (and bags under my eyes!)....I'm sure they have contributed as their sister did...they are part of that life story that is written on my face.
In a few weeks I will be starting my annual tradition of speaking at the University of Mary to the junior nursing students about our daughter, Gracie's life. As a nurse it brings me a sense of purpose to pass along what she taught all of us...unconditional love. It's easy on the outside to say..."why would you carry a baby to term that's going to die. All they are going to do is hurt themselves." That is why her story is important...to discount those thoughts and feeling and bring recognition that every life has a purpose and lesson from God to teach us all if we stop and listen. We are never too old to learn new things.....not even at the ripe old age of 35! Every time I speak to the colleges I learn something new that is for sure. So as I start to mentally prepare myself to go back to one of the most beautifully painful times in my life, I will look in the mirror and let my eyes tell a wonderful story.