This morning was harder for me than I expected. I felt like I was going to be able to take in the service without a heavy heart full of pain and grief. Well, my assumption was pretty far off. As soon as our pastor started the service I felt like I had been transported back to a year ago. All the memories of this last year without Cara came flooding back.
I hadn't expected this, but as Cynthia and I got ready this morning and drove to the grave site it felt like deja vu. Like we were back at the morning before Cara's funeral, trying to muster up the strength to get out of bed. The memories from last year brought back a strong sense of emptiness again. I really just felt like "here we go again"...like the house will seem way too quiet again or how will I ever go back to work?
Cynthia and I talked about this after the service which was helpful. She was in a place of peace and hope which encouraged me a little bit.
After lunch, Cynthia and I started working in Cara's garden. We had so many wonderful flowers that were all given to us for Cara's birthday. What a wonderful gift.
Around 3:30 pm, Cynthia went inside to take a nap. Now it was just me working alone in Cara's Garden. Our friend says that "gardening is a conversation with God." I love that. I added on to his thought today that gardening is also a conversation with the saints.
So, I spent some time talking with Cara as my hands dug holes in the soil and planted the flowers in the garden. It was in this moment, that I felt a deep sense of peace and hope for the first time all day.
It felt like Cara and even God were saying to me to just enjoy this new chapter in our lives, just as easily as it is to enjoy the beauty that is bursting forth in this garden. I felt like Cara's spirit was close. I felt like she was saying that she will always be close to us, that she'll always be a part of our family, and that she is hoping for new life in our family too.
It was one of those divine moments, where I can say with certainty that Cara was there.
I want to end by sharing the letter that Cynthia and I read this morning. Again, thank you to all our family and friends that stood by us today. We are touched and deeply humbled by your love and support.
A letter for Cara, one year later
March 18, 2009
Dear Cara Grace,
We gather together this morning with family and friends, to remember and honor you.
Our hearts are heavy when we think about how much we miss you. When we think about what would have been. Today, you would have been one year old. A growing, little baby girl with a full, dark head of hair (just like mine) and your mom's beautiful eyes, mouth and hands. You would have been bouncing up and down, smiling, and taking in the world as only a one-year old does.
We had so many dreams for you, Cara. Dreams of caring for you. Dreams of watching you grow from a baby to a child, and from a child into a beautiful woman. We dreamed about the day when you'd start to walk, or wear your first Easter dress, or get your first crush.
Your mother dreamed of holding you in her arms, and caring for you in the special way that only a mom would in the first few months of your life. She also dreamed of going on "mother and daughter adventures" with you, and being a listening ear for you as you grew older and went through the joys and sorrows of life.
I dreamed of showing you all the world had to offer you. I was ready to show you music, nature and sports, and watch the wonder in your eyes as you experienced all of these things. I was especially excited to teach you about music, and hold you in my arms and dance around the house with you to whatever crazy song came on the iPod. I was ready to gently guide you through your teenage years and help you blossom into a beautiful woman.
It could seem, Cara, that all our dreams for you have been dashed. But I don't think that's right. I don't think that's what you taught us over this past year.
You have taught us that our dreams, that were bound to your physical existence with us, were way too small. You have shown us that even though your physical life on earth was cut too short; your spirit, that is fully alive in Christ, is still very present in our hearts and minds. Your gentle spirit lives within us and reminds us of "the gift to be simple." Your legacy challenges us to love each other more and walk through each day with a new sense of hope and purpose. Because of you, Cara, our "beloved friend who offers grace," our lives are forever changed and marked by you.
My dear Cara, as we reflected shortly after your birth, while your precious life was only known to us in the womb, you have already changed and impacted more people than we as your parents could have ever hoped you would. And now you are in the presence of our Father who loves you completely, perfectly, wholly, something we would have only aspired to do.
We love you, Cara. You'll always be our little girl.