It's hard to believe we are now through our year of firsts without Skylar... We've made it through her birthday and our birthdays, the holidays, mother's day, father's day, and every day in between. Yesterday marked the anniversary of her death - and so we've survived our first whole year with out our sweet girl.
Leading up to the 16th was no fun to say the least. I was tempted to buy myself flowers or a giant bag of m&ms, but settled on two tubs of Blue Bell ice cream - on sale of course :)
Kyle and I both dreaded it as we knew we'd be forced to re-live the most painful moments in our lives. At the beginning of August, we were informed that Skylar's "stone" was completed and in place at her grave. I know this sounds crazy, but it made me cry because the thought of seeing her name with her dates of life set in stone was so permanent. I obviously know she's gone and I will have to wait the rest of my life to see her again... but still.
Kyle and I decided to go up to SC to her grave site and take a break from work to spend the day with each other and see the stone, sit with each other and visit her resting place.
I woke up that morning hoping that I wouldn't wake up. Not in the morbid sense, but I'm not a morning person and I really wanted to just sleep the entire day away so I didn't have to feel the pain. As I laid in bed, I realized it was right around the time Skylar left us and had a good cry. After sitting with Kyle for a bit once I got up, I decided to go out in the garden.
Gardening is my therapy and it allows me to care for things - as if I am still a mom. I haven't been able to do much in the last couple of weeks because of work, but I decided to take the entire day off to be still. Gardening allows me to be quiet. I can sit with my thoughts, ask questions and be still and wait to see if I can hear the answers... All the while I am taking care of plants, seeing things grow and produce fruit (thankfully) and getting my fair share of vitamin D and fresh air.
Lately, I've had lots of butterflies and hummingbirds visiting me in the garden. I've been able to take some photos of them and have enjoyed "getting to know them" as they are now regulars and have their own personalities. It always brightens up my day and makes me think of Skylar when I see them. We always called her our little hummingbird because her heart would beat so fast as her little body tried to function normally and struggled to keep up.
After gardening, we packed some snacks and got ready to leave. I was dragging my feet (and probably frustrating Kyle) but I knew what was to come emotionally and was subconsciously trying to stall. We finally got on the road and made the two-hour drive. When we pulled up, so many things were going through my mind and it was hard to contain it all. We made the hike into the woods to her grave and each step became heavier than the one before.
At the first sight of her stone, the waterfall of tears flowed down my cheeks. It looked so nice yet it was something I never wanted to see in my life. We moved it a little for better placement and pulled up tons of muscadine vines that had claimed the surrounding ground as their own. It was our way of continuing to take care of her as her parents the only way we know how...
Before long, both of my shirt sleeves were soaked with snot and tears. It was nice to have the space to sit with my grief and Kyle's shoulder to cry on. We had a good day together, despite the circumstances.
We thanked God for the opportunity to be Skylar's parents and for the precious time we had with her. As much as I didn't want to leave her grave, I know she's not there and being at her grave doesn't get me any closer to her than here at home. We were filled with a peace and comfort coming home that can only come from God. I really don't know how to explain it so I'm not going to try. We talked on the way home, going through all of the events that followed her death and how we've grown, what we've learned and how we're grateful to be where we are.
If you're in Atlanta and don't have anything to do on the evening of the 18th (today), feel free to come out to the Braves game to support our GA Chapter of Families of SMA (tickets can be purchased here). I am sad to say I can't make it because I will be photographing a separate charity event that I'm involved in with Shutter Sweet Photography throughout the entire weekend, but hope to hear about the great night of baseball and awareness raised.
More events will be happening soon. Stay tuned and thanks for reading! Peace.