My oldest daughter turned 12 just two weeks ago. She opted for a day of family activities this year, which was nice (though I discovered that I'm much worse at miniature golf than I remembered!). Daughter #2 turned 10 last Thursday, and as I was looking through some baby pictures of hers the night before, I caught sight of a couple of photos...
While I've always thought that Kristen resembled Grace, I had to admit that seeing these two photos together took my breath away for just a moment.
I've had plenty of moments over the past year when I've felt like I couldn't breathe. The first morning home without our littlest one, our middle daughter, Grace, woke up and ran to the living room nearly shrieking, "Where's Kristen? I can't find Kristen!" She had received a Build-a-Bear bunny from the hospital before we left that awful day. Emily had received a bear. I remember as we pulled out of the hospital parking lot, the girls were discussing names for their stuffed animals. Emily quickly picked "Elaine," which was the middle name we had chosen for Kristen...it had been Will's Grandma Blondie's middle name as well. Grace decided on "Kristen" for her bunny. She was searching for her bunny that next morning at home, but it took me a few minutes to realize that. That was definitely a wind-knocked-out-of-me moment.
After trying so hard to smile and celebrate Emily's 11th birthday with a small family party last year, my dad broke the news to me that my mom had died the day before. I was standing in the entryway. I remember reaching for the door knob and leaning back against the front door because I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me again.
Though the physical feeling of not being able to breathe for a moment is pretty much the same, experiencing something that takes your breath away and feeling like you've had the wind knocked out of you are really quite different. It's not in the delivery...both situations are often unexpected. It must be in the perspective.
I've written this before, and I only repeat it because I believe so strongly that it's true. Distance from this situation will change my perspective. Right now, if I let myself, I can be right back in those moments of August 2009, feeling the heart-wrenching pain of my losses. It hurts. It physically hurts to do that. And it may not be next week or next month or even next year, but I know there will come a day when I will be able to remember Kristen and the miracle that she was and have to catch my breath, but not because I feel like I've been punched in the stomach. Remembering the beautiful gift that God gave me will simply take my breath away for a moment, much like happened when I saw my husband on our wedding day, waiting for me at the end of the aisle...and when I laid eyes on each of my three daughters after they were born...and when I really stop to think about how much God loves me.
Knowing the awesomeness of Him, the very one who gave me life, takes my breath away, too.