I was outside that morning after breakfast, trying to pull myself together. I asked in a silent prayer to please help me feel comforted. I was almost beyond being able to function that morning. We had already eaten our biscuits and sausage-like Holland always loved for her birthday breakfast, but her absence on what was supposed to be her 18th birthday was rough. Within a few minutes, an unexpected visit from a friend brought some beautiful yellow roses, a listening ear, and a needed hug. It was truly a tender mercy; we stood in the yard in the relative quiet of the morning crying and talking. Just as we said goodbye, another car pulled up and delivered flowers from other family friends. Not long after that a wonderful surprise bouquet of birthday balloons showed up with the accompanying friend and more hugs and tears. As a family, we went to Guitar Center, one of Holland's favorite places and just looked around and played the guitars, keyboards and drums, just like we always have with her. It was good to be there again. We love listening to the recordings we have of her and are grateful for every picture, every video we have. We returned home to find more flowers and messages - more tender mercies.
So many thoughts. This post is written after the fact because on her birthday, I would not have been able to see thru all the tears. Grief is still our companion, as a family, we are getting better at carrying it around with us, some days are definitely more challenging than others. The weekend before her birthday when we would have normally done something as a family, it felt raw and so hard, all over again. For her birthday we planned to have her favorite dinner, pork chops, mashed potatoes and asparagus. Family dinner is not the same without her, but we were able to make new memories as we sat and remembered fun times with her. The word "remember" has become such a tender word in my heart. I have tried to remind my children when they are feeling overcome by sadness of her absence, to let that be a reminder to remember all the wonderful things about Holland we love so much, to remember times together, to remember our relationship as a family and the opportunity to be together again in the eternities. I know we have always taught our children to remember Christ and His gift of the atonement and resurrection. Though I have always known it is real and I try my best to remember Jesus Christ and what he has done for us, it has never been painful for me to remember Him, it has never triggered emotions like the grief that we have experienced since Holland's accident. I have realized how quickly the tears come when I remember my sweet daughter and I realize that my feelings should be even so tender as I remember my Savior. Life is a miracle, and there is a miracle in death that I have come to understand through this experience. My depth of understanding has grown, though I know it is just a small glimpse still of how much our Heavenly Father loves each of us as His children. My hope is always in Christ, but now it is ever more precious and more healing now. Our faith is our comfort. My capacity to love others and to feel greater love and appreciation for my Savior have grown exponentially. This is what I want to remember, along with the memories of our Holland.
I had been comfortless since the weekend before her birthday because we were not able to make the 5 hour drive up to her graveside. My sweet niece, without knowing how I felt and without saying anything beforehand, went to the cemetery to give Holland a gift that her daughter had chosen. She sent me a thoughtful text and picture, and tears, once again, rolled down my cheeks. God knows our hearts and He also knows how to comfort us.
Just as we returned from The Boba Shop for Holland's favorite treat, we said prayer as a family and we thought we were done for the night. More unexpected, but very welcome visits, more tender thoughts, more hugs, more flowers and more comfort were still to come. I had kind of dreaded that evening after dinner, thinking it would be difficult as things quietened down for the night. I am so grateful that it didn't happen. Instead, our home was filled with friends and conversation, more hugs, more flowers, kind notes and remembering that we are all so loved by so many. I have a box of cards that have been sent, I have made lists of all the service and kindness that have been done for us throughout this experience, along with packages of blank thank you cards. It has been hard to sit down and write. I am grateful for the continued love and support from so many. Please know you are not forgotten and you may get a random note way after the fact, but we are grateful. These experiences have reminded each of us how personally Heavenly Father knows each of us and knows our needs. We are so thankful for the hands that have been inspired and helped to lift us up when we have felt down. I know Holland is looking down on us and she saw all the love that was shared as we all remembered her and her birthday. Tender mercies are little miracles all around. We are grateful!