D: Oh what an emotionally exhausting but beautiful day today was. Most momma’s get to be physically drained from making their baby’s first birthday just perfect and get the cake and frosting all over the face picture to prove it, but this is what we get… Life after Loss… it is a constant challenge to balance the immense grief and sadness with the beauty life still has to offer us here on earth. The balance of yearning for heaven, but still choosing to continue on with a life here too. Forever the balance of light and dark…. Today was a stunningly beautiful day. It truly was. But only in the context of being loss parents. Today was absolutely the most beautiful day it could have been under the circumstances, short of having our sweet girls here on earth with us the way it should be, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. It is like knowing for the rest of life I have to settle for “the best it could be considering my daughters died”. I thought after a year I would have accepted that- you know the ‘this is my life now’ acceptance… but now I know differently. Today and 50 years from now, I will not have accepted this. There will never in my mind be a sound reason as to why there is anywhere better suited for 2 baby girls than in their mother’s arms….
The weather was absolutely perfect today. I awoke to seeing wispy clouds through the sky light and refused to get out of bed until after 8:40 a.m- the time my water broke last year- just in case life wanted to play a cruel joke on me and repeat history. We ate breakfast in the girls’ garden, and as we sat on their new custom mosaic bench we received the most beautiful sign from our girls. I mean, over the past year I have questioned my faith, my belief in whats next, unsure how to stay unwavering in my faith in light of all that has happened… but things that happened today- timing of things that happened today- it just cannot be coincidence. And it is in the moments- the times when I know without a doubt that Rylie and Avary are still with us spiritually, and that we will be together again for all of eternity- that I can truly breathe. I can truly smile. I can honestly and truly want to continue on with this life here on Earth, because I know what is waiting for me when my time comes….
As we sat on the bench in the twins garden, about 12 inches in front of our faces, 2 white butterflies met up for a moment in time and did a fluttering little dance around together -right in front of our eyes- and then parted ways…. what a beautiful start to the twins birthday. Thank you babies <3
We brought our donation of toys and books appropriate for 1 year olds to the post office to mail to the children’s hospital. On the outside of the box the clerk noticed our sticker reading “In memory of our beautiful daughters Rylie and Avary Andrews September 15, 2014”. The clerk said to us “I am so very sorry to see this. I too lost a baby. It has been 12 years and let me tell you, it doesn’t get easier. It is a community that none of us wish we belonged to. I am so very sorry for your loss”. And immediately Eric and I felt comfort. We wouldn’t wish our situation on anyone, but when you find people who just get it suddenly the world opens up and you don’t feel so alone. Eric said it once we got to the car as ” ah someone who speaks our language!” And although she didn’t say much, what she did say spoke volumes. Even on this shitty, hard and difficult day we were not alone…
On our way into the Chicago Botanical Gardens we paid for the vehicle behind us as our Random Act of Kindness and asked the guard to pass on a small card for us that read “Our Treat” with our ‘in memory’ sticker attached. I hope we made someones day a little bit by paying for their park pass, and in return I hope they read our card and made our day by knowing for even just a moment in time our girls were being remembered and leaving their mark on the world.
At 2:42 p.m. (half way between Rylie’s birth time of 2:40 and Avary’s birth time of 2:45) Eric and I released our pink and yellow balloon from a beautiful spot in the gardens- sitting at the waters edge with the brilliant blue sky above us and just the right amount of wind. As we released them and told our sweet girls ‘happy birthday’ 2 female ducks appeared and swam right past us basically at our feet… Again- they did it for us again! Another timing too perfect to be coincidence. We cried and held hands and thanked our twin angel bees for such obvious signs that they were present with us on this difficult day, and watched until our balloons were no longer visible from this earth.
When we returned home we sat once again in Avary and Rylie’s garden and read to Chloe for the first time. We read to her the 2 books we have purchased to help tell her one day about her big sisters in heaven; Someone Came Before You and My Baby Big Sisters- both adapted specifically to our situation. We held our soul-bird urns and our angel rubbing stones as we read, and felt proud to tell Chloe for the first time about her big sisters, tears and all….
After dinner we looked at family and friends Random Acts of Kindness in Memory of our #twinangelbees on social media, read the messages we received in honor of the day, and looked at the tokens of love sent to us by friends. We lit the girls sapphire birthstone candles, and looked through their tiny boxes of memories from this day last year… And I sit here now fighting off the fatigue from an emotionally draining day as I try to finish typing my last tribute of the day to my beautiful perfect little 1 year old princesses…
Eric and I have changed so much in the past year. We have grown so very close, developing an everlasting love and connection over the birth and death of our first born children. We have handled more than most get dealt in the first early years of marriage, and I honestly think we are stronger because of it. Because of Avary and Rylie we appreciate deeper, love harder, speak and cry honestly and openly, and truly take nothing for granted. When we married we said “for better or worse” and there is truly no one in the universe I would have rather had by my side over the past 365 days then the perfect man sitting beside me now. I love you so much.
Rylie Nicole and Avary Lauren- Happy 1st Birthday in Heaven from your very proud Mommy and Daddy. We love you girls so incredibly much. Keep holding hands and taking care of one another until we can all be together again one day. I love you my twin angel bees….
E: Today was a really good day. I don’t think that it could have gone better. I think that makes us both very happy especially because we were struggling with what to do on their birthdays that would be both meaningful and appropriate. We had a lot of ideas but were uncertain about particular order, whether or not to include our loved ones in person, if what we had planned would be enough, etc. The beautiful day ended up shining down on what I think were many right choices. We both feel fulfilled, albeit solemn, after this particular day.
Nothing serves as a better accompaniment to spiritual reflection than perfect weather. I am thankful that today was sunny and 75-80 the entire time. There weren’t no clouds in the sky – rather, there were the perfect amount of clouds in the sky. Whispy ones that remind us of angels, but otherwise perfectly clear and pleasant.
I guess I take it back – the only thing better than an environment that provides what you need is a universe that seems to want to be spiritual back at you. I don’t know how to express this to my future self when he reads this – or to anyone else who may be concerned – but today was a rare breed of days that talked back to us. I felt them all around. And it didn’t even phase me – I wasn’t shocked that two butterflies came together to dance in front of our eyes in the garden sanctuary we build. They were so close I could have reached out an touched them. We were sitting on the Twins’ memorial bench when we asked for them to come to us. And they did.
Again, when we arrived at the gardens, we had only a few minutes to find the perfect spot to release their balloons and speak to them on their birth times. It’s like we were presented with the spot in front of an uninhabited fountain in the middle of a peaceful lake by a helpful force. We talked to Rylie and then Avary beginning at 2:40, held hands and released their balloons. And just as we did – as we watched their balloons float away together – two female ducks emerged from around the corner and quacked right past our feet close to the water’s edge. Of course your heart would skip a beat and you might jump a little in your seat when something you want to happen so badly occurs – but that surprise and excitement almost instantly converted to an ethereal understanding that they have always been with us and are always listening to us.
I think I feel like we felt them the right amount too. Because I believe that they have to operate within the mechanics of the world in which we live – by swimming past as ducks or fluttering as butterflies – I would never expect something impossible to happen. Often, white butterflies in this area will swirl together in a briefly organized pattern, breaking from otherwise erratic flight. But today… they did it when we asked and they did it in front of our faces while we prayed to them on their bench. They swirled together in the very center of our sacred place for them. Ducks swim in the water and they don’t really appear to be too fearful of humans most of the time. But today… they appeared in front of our crying faces – two (and only two) uncharacteristically-partnered female mallards distinguishable by their brown heads – right as we had opened communication with them at a very meaningful time to all four of us.
Today, things happened that were real enough to feel that we weren’t dreaming or wishfully thinking, but also surreal enough to feel that these occurrences were meant for us in particular when we needed them. The timing was too perfect. The universe was too responsive. I felt like Avary and Rylie could hear us and were able to embody tools in this world to communicate with their parents when we needed it the most. We weren’t scared or surprised – we just knew it was them.
Danyelle and I are thankful to have one another. To be in love and to believe the same things. We walk up and down the stone steps at the same pace and our rhythm makes my life worth living. We gave life to two little versions of us – equal parts you and equal parts me. I can’t imagine what our worlds would have been like with those girls in them. But we love you and will always love you Rylie and Avary and we will raise our living children to know who you are. Thank you for the wonderful day and for making us into who we are.