Hearts & Reminders


I miss Kristen every single day, but there are days when I just miss her more deeply.  Those days aren't always the days one might expect.  Seeing all the little ones in the Christmas program at church made that still-tender spot in my heart ache.  I should have had another daughter up there to video.  She would be 3 1/2 now, though I most often still think of her as a baby.

Recently, I received a precious package from "A Heart to Hold."  This beautiful ministry makes weighted heart-shaped pillows for families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss.  I requested one that weighs 6 pounds 14 ounces, the birth weight of my Kristen.  When I first cradled it in my arms, I was surprised at how heavy it felt.  I remember that little girl of mine seeming so light in my arms.  It's all in what you're used to, I guess, and my arms have been empty for over 3 years now.  What seemed like a feather at one time felt much different now.

Seemingly forgetting how she felt in my arms made me wonder what else had slipped from memory.  So I found myself recounting her days with us, re-reading old Caring Bridge entries and facebook status updates.  That's all fine and good until I get close to August 2009.  At that point I find myself in a very sad place, a place I don't often go on purpose.  Last night I came across the slide show my dear sister-in-law made for Kristen's service.  It was beautiful, but left me feeling heartsick and in a puddle of tears.

The reminders that Kristen isn't here are everywhere.  They are in her sisters' faces.  They are in the picture frames that don't have new pictures to go in them.  They are in the fifth stocking that hangs on the fireplace.  They are in every little bear that is sent to a grieving family.  They are even in the kitchen chairs.  As we rearranged the living room after Thanksgiving to make room for the Christmas tree, I had to move our "God Bless America" bear that my father-in-law carved out of a log from a corner in the living room to a corner in the kitchen.  That corner was previously occupied by one of the two extra dining chairs we keep near the table (but not at the table).  Quickly moving it to a spot at the table, I didn't realize until I went to set the table for supper that we now have five spots at the table instead of four.  Kristen was so little that she never had her own "spot" at the table.  Seeing that fifth chair made me wonder if we would have had squabbles over which sister wanted to have Kristen sit next to her.  Yet another reminder.

The reminders can be tearful, but they are good to have.  They make me feel closer to her.  After the Christmas tree has been put away, and the living room has space again for the "God Bless America" bear, I may just leave that fifth chair at the table.  Our family of five will never gather around that earthly table together, but having another spot there helps me picture what our heavenly table might feel like. 

Any reminder of heaven is most definitely good for the heart.