Tears fill my eyes every time the end of the movie, Ever After, rolls around. The point of my tears aren’t so much because Cinderella and her prince get to live happily ever after. No, it’s the words the Grand Dame shares in the final moments of the film:
The point is that they lived.
Every life is worth celebrating but so often we miss celebrating life when we stare in the face of death and grief.
My child died.
When I share my daughter died, the conversation often goes one of two ways: an abrupt halt as awkwardness stifles further discussion, or an unsteady tiptoe through the details as the one listening absorbs the shocking information.
Either way, I wish our words would drift back to the truth I’m learning to embrace: the point is that my daughter lived.
Today, more than other days, I celebrate this truth. Sixteen years ago today, my sweet Emma Jo took her very first breath. Yes, five years later, she breathed her last, gone much sooner than I ever imagined. But honestly? I don’t want to focus on her final breath or the years that have passed. For now I’ll tuck those sorrows away because today I want to celebrate her birth, her life, and the gift of being her mom.
Eleven years of birthdays without my sweet girl and I’m beginning to understand.
This day will always be a tender dance between joy and sorrow . . .
but her birthday is still worth celebrating . . .
because she lived.
The thing about birthdays is wondering if this day somehow still counts. Is a birthday still a birthday after a child dies? Is today Emma’s sweet 16 or just an anniversary of the day she was born? If it is her birthday, how is it celebrated? Candles and cake? Ice cream and balloons? Or in awkward silence with the reality of her birth hidden quietly away in my heart?
As I look around at other moms celebrating their child’s special day, I long to do the same: to talk about her as much as other moms do. To share stories and memories and funny things she said or silly things she did. I want to share because while she may have died, the point is that she lived.
I’m learning to celebrate her life now as much I did when she walked beside me, hand snuggled safely in mine. I’m learning to embrace the broken dreams of years I’ve lost along with the precious moments we had with her breathing beside me.
God knew the number of days He set for my sweet girl, and each one was ordained by Him. Each moment. Each breath, including her last. God says He is up to something good and I trust Him to be faithful to His Word.
So today I celebrate my sweet Emma Jo. Her life is a gift, entrusted to me by a loving God. I celebrate every moment of her full and abundant life. I celebrate her tender faith as she believed God was always with her, just like He was with David when he faced Goliath. Emma danced and played and made huge messes. She twirled my hair as she drifted off to sleep and bounced out of bed in the morning ready for whatever fun the day held. She loved her family, unconditionally and completely. I celebrate her giggles and heart of compassion, sharing whatever she could with those in need especially if it included a chocolate chip muffin.
Because the point is that she lived.