Rory’s Birthday = Kid’s Day

After Rory’s death, we were quickly confronted with what to do on her birthday.

How do we celebrate Rory, without her?

We did a service project with help from family and friends and donated toys to Primary Children’s Hospital.

Then we also got each of the boys a present and said, “Happy Kid’s Day!”

Our day hasn’t changed much from that first year.

We do some sort of service and we celebrate Kid’s Day.

We wanted activities we could continue to do as the boys grew up, moved away, and had kids of their own.

Our hope is that someday as we celebrate Kid’s Day with our boys’ children, we can say,

“This is in honor of your Aunt Rory. She was a pretty dang awesome girl! Let me tell you a story about her.”

Daily Grief Cycles

The five stages of grief have been on repeat that last couple of days.

It looks something like this:
This isn’t my life.

Are you kidding me that this is my life? There’s nothing fair or right about it!

Well, God, let’s just bring her back. I promise to not unlearn all that I’ve learned.

She’s not coming back. I’m going to live the rest of my life without my daughter. Why am I still living?

It’s going to be okay. Keep stepping. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve got your boys to get through all this.

Denial
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

Denial
Anger
Bargaining
Depression
Acceptance

Over and over again. I don’t always hit every step. But the range of emotions are just all day long.

I consider myself quite the expert on playing mind games. Resetting my brain when it gets into an unhealthy pattern.

These last few days, it’s just felt impossible. I could say it’s lack of sleep, conflict, hormones, or politics.

But the truth is: Rory should be turning 12 in a little over a week. I’m staring down another birthday without her.

Twelve.

My baby would be twelve on February 6th.

Every birthday without her guts me. But this one, we would have had a fun year of celebrating new things with her. Moving up into the youth program at church, graduating elementary school, and embracing her true preteen drama.

My body physically aches for those experiences with her.

Then I go through the stages again. Luckily for me, the last step ends with hope and propels me into action.

My life has a purpose and it’s to love. And I recognize that purpose because Rory was born. And she was mine.

Grew, Hoped, Tried.

In the weeks after Rory’s death, I recorded memories.

I wanted it in my voice.

How I remembered my baby girl.

I looked at some of the videos for the first time the other day.

It spoke to me in two ways.

One, I miss Rory! I want a million more memories. At least one for every day I’ve been without her these three years.

Two, I’m not that same Stephanie. I feel like a lifetime has passed in some ways. In those videos I was engulfed in the flames of grief. As flames have turned to embers, I’m emerging reshaped. In almost every aspect of my life.

Who and how I love.

My relationship with God.

The truly important things in my life.

Faith.

Friendship.

Understanding.

Empathy.

The importance Grace in my life.

Amanda Gorman’s inaugural words rang true to me:

“That even as we grieved, we grew

That even as we hurt, we hoped

That even as we tired, we tried”


Grieved, hurt, tired.

Grew, hoped, tried.


That encapsulates my last three years.

Reminders of Rory

There are times that it feels like Rory existed in a different life.

We moved just a couple of weeks after she died.

So she never walked these halls.

She never had a room in this house.

She didn’t color on any walls.

She didn’t potty train, read stories, or play games here.

When I look around, there are no Rory memories.

She never set her sweet feet in this house.

A couple of months ago one of her socks fell out of one of her boxes in the basement.

I couldn’t bring myself to put it away or even move it.

It’s a reminder.

She was real. She was ours. We were whole.

We’re speeding (sometimes crawling!) toward the third anniversary of her death.

Three years.

That’s no time. And a lifetime.

I miss that girl! My soul yearns for hers.

I’m eager for the days that this life and our other life combine and we can be one again.

Working Through PTSD

Triggers.

Three years ago I don’t know that I could fully understand what that meant.

Today, I feel like I should show a cycle of PTSD for me. (Skip the next chunk of lines if stuff like this triggers you.)

I open a news article.
COVID numbers are up.
Especially in my county.
My brain starts.
What if I get COVID?
What if I have it?
What if I’m asymptotic?
Oh my gosh.
What if I give to someone in my family?
Oh my gosh.
What if I already did?
They’re going to get sick.
Oh my gosh.
What if they get hospitalized?
I can’t be with them.
What if they die?
It’s my fault.
Again.
They’re going to die.
Just like Rory.
I couldn’t save her.
I compressed on her chest.
I gave her breath.
But I couldn’t save her.
Her lifeless body.
She’s gone.
More people I love are going to leave me.

On bad days, it’s a panic attack. My brain cycling through that night. Over and over again.

On good days I can stop my brain and think through it. Process.

Breathe.
You don’t have COVID.
Breathe.
You’re being careful.
You’re doing all you can.
Breathe.
No one in your family is sick right now.
Breathe.
Breathe.
Breathe.

I know I’m far from the only one that’s triggering right now. For various reasons. In different ways.

Oh man, it’s so important to understand that we don’t know what people are fighting. We don’t know what they’re going home to. We don’t know what they’re walking around with every day in their head.

Yesterday, as I was reading scriptures with my boys a phrase stuck out. “Tarry a little longer”.

To mourn with, to love, to be with those around us a little longer, in different ways.

With the person that needs someone to talk to.

Call someone that might be lonely.

Drop a treat to someone that’s been isolating.

Be more patient when I’m ready to throw my hands up.

Show love instead of showing up to fight.

Drop a text to let someone else know they’re thought about and missed.

Give more of myself to those that I have the amazing opportunity to know and love.

Tarry just a little longer.

I want to send a big hug to all of you today.

Love you. 💜💜💜