Our Christmas card is always a time of reflection for me. Some of the reflecting is painful, some humorous, some encouraging……I love this year’s card because it really shows how old Olivia is getting and just how mature and lovely she is. I also look at Vida and Jagger and see how much they have grown since last year and it shows how much Jagger looks up to Vida and how Vida really doesn’t care what anyone thinks! Rowan our littlest, well she just loves to be held (well she actually prefers that up and down game) and this shows that she is right where she wants to be…on my hip or John’s! When I look at John and I this year I see that we seem more rested (even though we are SO not) I also see signs of aging on both of us, but that is ok because it reminds me of growth, trust, and honestly maturity.
I have never shared my story before about my other daughter Gianna, that is the Gia you see in the upper left corner on the front and then also the G that Olivia is holding. I have typed and retyped many times a post about Gia and I have never felt quite ready to post it. One of these days maybe I will. But to give you a little back story to my 5 children. Olivia is my daughter whom I had before John and I were married. We got married when she was 5, and let me tell you that this little girl wanted nothing more than to be a big sister. So you can imagine the excitement and buzz in our house Christmas 2009. I was 8 months pregnant with Gia and we could hardly wait for her. See, I loved being a Mom and I had the very best experience as a single Mother to Olivia. I know some people’s experience as a single parent is hard, so very hard. But mine was fulfilling, and enjoyable, and so unbelievably loving. She is this amazing child and she used to ask me all the time about getting her a brother or sister. How do you explain to a 3 year old that it’s not going to happen…. 🙂 So we were in high anticipation of Gianna’s arrival. I was due the very beginning of February. I delivered Gia on January 21, 2010 and she was nothing short of pure perfection! She was happy, content, so easy going, and chubby, chubby! She had dark hair, beautiful eyes,and a smile that I swear she came out of the womb with.
Olivia beamed and glowed every time she held her…you would have thought she had the baby with that “Motherly” glow. I was home with her all by myself during my maternity leave…Olivia was in 1st grade so she was at school all day….this time as I look back was such a privilege and blessing. See when I had Olivia I had to go back to work way sooner than I had wanted and so I felt so much gratitude to be home a little longer with Gia.
The time came and I went back to work. We had daycare set up with a family member whom I used for Olivia when she was a baby. I thought that was the best place for her to be…more love, you know. However on May 20, 2010 (Olivia’s 7th birthday) something that NO parent should have to go through happened to us. We lost our Gia. She was put down to nap on her stomach and she never woke up. She was 1 day shy of being 4 months old. She was healthy, she was happy, she was perfect, she is now an Angel. Her death was preventable….our hearts were broken into a million pieces.
Christmas is a special time to me…and an emotional time because I think of that baby born in a lowly manger….Jesus! How he came to save, to redeem, to love, to carry us, to provide a way out when no way seems possible. That is what He did for us. I sit typing this tonight and I can hardly breath, my heart is racing….but not for the reasons you might think! Rather, I sit here because my message is this! God will carry you when you can’t manage to carry yourself, just ask Him! God will provide peace that passes ALL human understanding….I stood at my daughters visitation and burial without collapsing, and I listened and heard all the words of love and wisdom others imparted on us in this tragic time and God gave me peace in my heart that my daughter was in a better place and that I too would see her again. God will bring others into your lives to support you, love you, take care of you when you can’t do it for yourself. God will provide a way out of your pain….you just need to be willing to lean into Him and trust that His plan is far greater yours or my mind can even comprehend.
You know we found out the night before she passed away that I was pregnant again…talk about a whoops! Gianna and Vida would have been born in the same year……God gave us something to look ahead to. God gave me a reason to take care of myself, a purpose for the next 9 months. God kept us busy through Olivia and her activities. God showed us so much love through people we didn’t even know and those we did. God also created a bond between John and I that only parents who have lost children and remain married after the tragedy understand….you are forever bonded through a pain that NO one else will ever know or be able to understand.
I hope that you take the time to reflect in the next couple of weeks all that you have been through this past year, be proud of the accomplishments you have made. Try harder this coming year at the areas you aren’t feeling so strong in. Remember the good, remember the pain, remember the love, remember to grow. Every part of our lives is molding us into who we will ultimately be when we pass from this earth……remember what matters…..God, Family, Friends, Love!!!
These are 2 of my favorite verses, and I hold them dear to my heart as truth and guidance.
From my family to yours, we wish you a VERY Merry Christmas and blessed New Year!
Much love, Kim and John Ray
Olivia, Gianna, Vida, Jagger and Rowan