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Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Visit

The cemetary is not a place we visit frequently, we know it's not where Catie really is. Sure, her body is there, but we know she is living full and free and full of joy in Heaven. It is a place I like to go on occasion though... usually it's just a quick visit, a drop in. I'm so glad that we had Catie's picture engraved on her stone.. it's nice to know that folks can see her instead of just a name and some dates. We were headed out to the beach to meet friends on Monday and were passing not far from the cemetary, so Iz and I stopped by. I pulled her from her car seat and set her in the grass. She followed me to Catie's spot, just off the road. I bent down and began dusting the dirt from her stone. I swear, every time I do that, I have this thought... "Here I am at my daughter's grave, brushing the dirt from her stone. I had another daughter and she died." It's strange how the loss can be so present in our lives, but still so unreal at the same time. So I'm brushing the stone and Iz walks over and I point to the stone. "Catie," I say. She reaches down with her tiny, pudgy hand and gently brushes the engraving, she brushes her sister's face. Then, in her sweet toddler way, she begins to blow kisses towards her sister's picture. My heart stopped with the sweetness and the unfairness of the moment. The sweetness that Izzy knows that Catie is someone special in our family and the utter, complete unfairness that she never met her... A tender moment between sisters as best Iz can do given our circumstances. Oh how I pray that we raise her and this sweet babe in my belly to know Catie... to know her as she was, not grown bigger than life because she's gone... to know her and to love her without being morbid or overdoing it. It's a balance I've worried about since Catie died... I want them to know her and love her as best they can without meeting her, but I never want them to feel overshadowed by her. I pray we find the right balance.

Iz is our wild woman for sure, but she definitely has a tender heart. It's strange to think how the loss of someone she never met will shape some aspects of her life. I've been watching Army Wives this season. I LOVE the show!! I have been enjoying watching how the characters in the show have dealt with grief (a couple on the show lost their daughter at the begin of the season). There was an interesting quote on the show recently. The husband and wife were talking... talking about all that had changed with the loss of their daughter. And the wife said, "Honey, Amanda's death changed our lives forever. I'm trying really hard not to let it shape our future too." Her husband responded, "I know, but I'm afraid it already has." I have to admit I'm a bit more with the husband on that one. I don't see how Catie's death can have no affect on our future. Something as small as tossing a pebble in the lake sends out ripples... the waves that are caused by the death of a child are more like those that come from a hurricane. They do change what happens to our future. But, I can appreciate what the wife was saying. You've got to find the balance... it's going to shape your future, but you've got to claim some of that future too. You've got to accept yourself as you are now... forever changed because of a vast hole left in your home... and you've got to find a way to embrace life again. Some days it's easier than others. Izzy has definitely made it easier.

I was talking with a dear friend today and we were talking about "Catie stuff." I told her that I didn't expect to be "over" it at this point, but that I was surprised at how very present it all still is. In talking with others who have lost children, I'm more convinced that it's something that takes a lifetime to process. I do think you learn to live with it... we already are learning and have come a long way... but I think you continue to process for all your life. That's ok, because we'll love her all our lives... so I guess it's only fitting.


Martha from NC said...

What a precious moment that must have been for you. Izzy definitely knows that Catie is a part of the family and I guess she just felt like blowing her big sister a kiss. I can't imagine how you must have felt but I know how Catie Bug felt - HAPPY!!! She received that sweet kiss from Iz and I'm sure was smiling the whole time. While I know you'll love Catie all your life, I can assure you the feeling is mutual.
What a heart warming post this was. Thank you for sharing "A Visit" with us. You continue to inspire me. Please know you you remain in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny! I have followed you, Tre' and Catiebug and now Iz and babe in the belly for sometime....I have emailed you and left comments on both sites, but today your post has somewhat touched home. You see I have and auntie that I have never met. I am 33 years old and my mother's sister was murdered 2 years prior to me being born. With this being said, I have always had lots of questions and even have pictures of my auntie. But......everytime I get to asking lots of questions about my auntie my mother gets so full and does not want to talk about her sister any more. My grandmother is 84 years old and she still cries when she thinks about certain things regarding her daughter so I do think it takes a lifetime to process the death of a child. They have happy memories also that we talk about but even after this long the loss is still so very present in their lives. Love ya, Tracy Neal

amy said...

What a beautiful moment for you and Izzy!!
We miss you!! YOu are always in our hearts!

BP said...

I am always so moved by your thoughtful posts. That is such a special time together for you and Izzy.

Sandy P said...

It seems with every post about Izzy, I think she and Macie must have some conection. They seem to have so much in common. As wild and tiring as Macie can be, she has such a sweet cuddly side. I even noticed from the lake picture they even have the same bathing suit!

JPLand said...

This is such a poignant entry, Jenny. I can't imagine being in your shoes, though I'll admit I've tried. I am so far removed from what you've been through at this point, and I never even met your precious girl. But even for me, the fact that Catie (someone who became a part of my life when I first learned about her battle) actually died is surreal. I suppose death is that way. It's something so foreign to us, so other than what we know and are able to understand, and I think that sense must be even greater when it's a child. You know how often my thoughts turn to families like yours. As you said, it's something completely unfair, and yet it has happened, and you have lived through it, and you are living still--and even bringing more life into the world. You are constantly in my prayers, and what you are learning is teaching me too. Lots of love!


JPLand said...

P.S. Sandy, that bathing suit must be especially popular, because my little one-year-old has it too! Jenny, I meant to say I also love the new pics. Can't believe Natalie H. is already one!


Tabitha said...

Jenny, I am just catching up and I'm so excited to hear about your new baby! Congratulations, and I hope you are feeling better soon. Your sweet little Izzy is as cute as can be, I love the new pictures. I sure miss you, and wish you all the best with all the changes coming up in your life!
Love, Tabitha

robinandamelia said...

Beautiful updates. From everything you write about Izzy, it seems she truly "knows" her sister. Very special. Love the pics from your holiday as well. Very cute.

Tammy said...

Jenny, beautiful post! Missing all those funny Catie stories! She was such a hoot, I can only imagine the loss you feel everyday. I enjoy all the pictures of Izy, and am looking forward to your new arrival! Hugs from Fort Worth!

BP said...

I have something for you on my blog today (7-21). :)

Stephanie said...

Jenny- Your entry has me in tears. I can see Izzy sweetly blowing kisses to her big sister. I know that you want your children to know Catie and I know that you will find that balance. God will lead you in the way that you should go.

There is this quote, "A baby is something that you carry inside for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day that you die." It's true. I lost my baby girl at 23 weeks gestation and I will always carry her in my heart. You will do the same with Catie. Catie has touched so very many of us. She will live on in all of our hearts. I won't ever forget her or your family. I remember her often. I think of her when my kids play with our dogs. I think of her when Eldon the elf visits. I think of her when we make cookies. And, we think of her when we go to Chik fil A.

I've gotten way off track. I just wanted to let you know that your entry touched me. I know that Catie is in Heaven with my baby girl and my brother. They'll be waiting for us when we walk through those gates. What a glorious day that will be!

Tina said...

I followed Catie's caringbridge site and now your blog.
I can relate to your post. When we visit Lance's grave, his sister will blow kisses and say Bye Lance. Its bittersweet.

HUGS and know sweet Catie is always in my thoughts.