Today is Emersyn’s 9th birthday and my sweet girl would be in Grade 4 and no doubt just as funny and adventurous and unique as Isla and Callum. 9 years ago today after a long labour I felt like I could do anything because I had her. I remember having so much confidence that I actually slept in the hospital that night and sent Jason home while Emersyn and I slept soundly until morning. No one else was in our room and the maternity ward was slow that night and my daughter and I slept peacefully. I have never slept as soundly as I did that night and I wonder now if that was meant to happen as I would need my rest for what was to come. I may engage in life more now and carry my grief more privately but it is always there in all of it’s intensity a living breathing life line to Emersyn. Today I exhale and take my armour off and let myself fall as today I cannot carry the backpack of grief and juggle all the things that life involves not today. Today I am all about you Emerysn.
I woke up this morning had a shower got dressed went downstairs and let it hit me in all it’s impact. Isla and Callum got up and Jay made our usual Saturday morning pancakes while Isla wrapped her existing toys and put them in gift bags to take to the cemetery. Callum said he wanted to give you 8 cars how cute is he? We then went to the store and Isla came in with me to ask for balloons to be blown up and when the cashier asked who they were for Isla replied “my sister she’s 9 and she is in heaven and we are visiting her today so tie them tight”. Just as I was about to give my rehearsed response which I am more prepared for now 8 years in Isla chimes in and is sharing her sister’s legacy and I stood in Longo’s and I cried. I could barely speak as Isla smiled at the helium balloons being blown up and was in awe as she watched them float up to the moon as she says. The cashier stopped and looked at me and Isla differently and said “I think our next ribbon should be a gold one just for your sister she sounds pretty special”. I could tell our cashier wasn’t having a good day but as soon as Isla shared that these balloons were for her sister’s birthday in heaven it was like a light went on and Emersyn’s gifts were opened right in front of us. Isla was sharing her sister's gifts on her birthday.
It is what I like to believe is perspective, my little 9 year old Angel gives me this daily when I think things are stressful or too difficult I remember what she went through and how short her life was and I remind myself of perspective. I remember what we as a family have gone through and I think although my reserves are nearly tapped out I am able to carry on because nothing could be as bad as losing my daughter. I saw this woman who I just met stop and look at us and literally change as her eyes welled up and a smile came across her face as she chose the gold ribbon for the last balloon. She suddenly stood taller and more present and said “let me cut your flowers down to the right size for the cemetery I will be right back”. I could feel her sense of desire to help us as she cut them down to just the right size for the vase. She then found a bag for us to carry the balloons so they wouldn't fly away in the car and helped us carry everything and wrapped the flowers even though she knew where we were taking them. I felt her watching us as we went back to the car to meet Callum and Jason and I thanked Emersyn for reminding all of us that it is the little things we can do for each other that can make all the difference. I was also given perspective and felt gratitude to the kind stranger who carefully prepared her balloons and flowers for us today.
In a world that is crazy, hectic, media overloaded and constantly changing Emersyn is my mindfulness. She is my gentle compass guiding me back to what is right, what is kind and what really matters. She is the root of my empathy and the multiple lenses I look through when I consider different perspectives. She is also the root of my advocacy in my career that I love as a Special Education Teacher and as an advocate for my own children. Emersyn you are my lighthouse in the storm and my gold ribbon that ties me together when I feel weak.
Sometimes I can’t quite process that the greatest loss has happened to us because it is just too big to wrap my head and heart around. I think consciously and subconsciously I am always trying to integrate losing Emersyn into everything I do to continue surviving her death. I take her story and my love for her and I weave it into as many people, stories, songs, butterflies and special moments as I can. I make meaning not of her death because that is unexplainable but of her life and her gifts. Emersyn’s gifts are something I talked about in the eulogy I wrote for her funeral yet as I wrote those words I was not sure how her gifts would find me in such devastating pain.
Emersyn you are 9 today and it should be us showering you with presents and cake and fun crazy birthday celebrations with your friends but instead you keep giving to us. I hope I get it right as I reflect on your gifts so far as I feel you want us all to be reminded today of hope, bravery, compassion, gratitude, empathy, resilience, authenticity, humility, perspective and most of all love. I feared that my pain would dominate everything but I have learned that my pain does not need stifled or removed as it can live and breathe right next to my love for you. As long as my love is there my pain can exist and be channeled into helping others and myself to grow.
And Isla and Callum also wanted me to add that they noticed as we were driving out of the cemetery today the song Party in the USA came on and the line “the butterflies fly away” played on the radio just as a Monarch Butterfly flew over our car! Leave it to my 3 to throw in some pop wisdom for us today ;) I hope as you fly away Emersyn you know that we see your gifts and we hope we received them right my little/big girl.
I hope our gift to you today is continuing to challenge ourselves to do better and be better because we are all a work in progress.
Happy birthday my sweet, funny, charismatic beautiful Emersyn you are my heart and I hope I am your hands here on earth.
Mommy, Daddy, Isla and Callum xoxoxoxoxo