Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bring the's time

I don't know about you, but sometimes there are things that I know I'm supposed to do, except I just really don't feel... ready, equipped, qualified, or even willing. This is the first post in a series that I'm not even sure I want to write. It's too raw, too personal, maybe even too private. It demands that I reach down into a place that I'd rather not reach into. It insists that I share a partly private pain that I'd rather not share. Maybe I'm afraid of being pitied. Perhaps I'm thinking that I'll relate to other women in a way I'm not ready. Maybe I have concerns that I'm holding on to something I should really...release.

Whatever my deep and truest reasons may be, I ask you to pray for me as I pour out to you a pain that time may lessen but will never heal. This seems a fitting time to me, because it all began five years ago tomorrow. Many of you know the background on this, some more painfully well than others. Bear with me as I share with you my heart on losing our daughter Abigail Noel Hankins. Because this is difficult, and because I need to maintain my composure around my children, this will take place over the course of a few posts rather than one. I will try to share as much as I can, as soon as I can.

Tonight, we will be celebrating her birthday, as we always do, at Chuck-E-Cheese's. We're celebrating a day early for a variety of reasons, but the main parts of the celebration will remain the same. We'll head to CiCi's for some cheap pizza, then across the street to Chuck-E's. We'll walk in the door, and we'll tell the greeter that we're there for a birthday party. They will reach for a balloon and a hat and ask us who's having a birthday, and our children will all yell out "Our sister Abigail."

Usually, the greeter will scan the children looking for the birthday girl, and our more vocal children will say "She's not here. She died. But it's her birthday!" The poor greeters usually don't know what to say to that besides, "Oh, okay, well here's her cup of tokens." Not much eye contact with that one.

We all file in with close family and friends, find a table, and set the kids loose to play. Later, we round them all up, gather around some cupcakes, and pray and thank God for the short time we had with a child we loved so dearly, and for the time He has allowed us to hold on to the ones we have here with us. We can never take it for granted any more.

We give each of our kids a small gift in remembrance of their sister, whom some never even met and others met only briefly at a very young age. It is not as easy for them to understand that a part of our family is missing as it is for us who remember it as both adults and as parents, but they understand one thing very well: the love we have for the sister they lost is as real and strong today as it has ever been, and the love we have for all of them will never change. They also understand that their mama and daddy have made a pledge to do everything possible to remember Abigail with celebration and song. It is our tribute to her little life and to the important lessons she taught us in such a short time.

So for today, celebrate with me the life of our baby girl. And for those of you who have lived through losses of your own, know that I am celebrating their lives with you as well.

Tomorrow, on her birthday, I will share with you the story of her birth.


happily retired gal said...

As I hopefully await the rain we desperately need here in Southern California, I clicked on this post expecting it to be about the weather ... yet you drew me in with your story of sorrow and loss paired with the pending celebration of Abigail's birthday. What a lovely tradition you've created and I'm heartened that you don't allow the discomfort of others to intrude on this special time for you and your family. You'll all be in my thoughts and prayers ... and I'll return to read of Abigail's birth whenever you're able to share.
Hugs and blessings,

Shelley said...

Hi there,
I've read your ruminations blog many times in the past. Neat that you found me so coincidentally. :) Anyway, I'm afraid I messed up when I posted this, as I actually sent it just yesterday and have posted a follow-up today. For others reading this comment I'm sure this won't make sense because I have corrected the date on this post now, but that's okay....Thank you for your kind words. God bless.

The Tittle Family said...

Shelley, I just started reading this today. I am delighted to know that you have such a beautiful tradition with your family of celebrating Abigail's birthday. What an example of hope and unending love you are showing to them!