PictureEmma Jo - age 4
My great-great-grandmother’s portrait hung in the university up until the Revolution. By then, the truth of their romance had been reduced to a simply fairy tale. And, while Cinderella and her prince did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.” - Grand Dame, Ever After

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. 

Every time I meet someone new and they ask about my kids, I have to decide which number to share. Then comes the common follow-up question: how old are they now? Welcome to one of the top struggles of a grieving parent: how many children do you say you have? How much information are you up for sharing? Are your feelings in check with your tears tucked far enough away without one escaping down your cheek as you answer?

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.


Kathy Wood
01/15/2016 7:50pm

How beautiful.. God bless you.

01/18/2016 11:45am

Thank you, Kathy!

Kim M.
01/15/2016 8:46pm

Oh Kim..... just beautiful.

01/18/2016 11:45am

Thanks, Kim <3

Becky H.
01/15/2016 9:17pm

I lost the love of my life suddenly a year and a half ago. Our daughter was just under three months old when he past. My greatest dream in life was to be a mother. I'm greatful everyday I told him how much I loved him and what he meant to me. Every birthday his, mine and our daughters I think of him. I celebrate him in many moments especially on his birthday.

01/18/2016 11:47am

I'm so sorry for your loss, Becky. For the moments you've missed with him. Thank you for reminding me to celebrate every moment, including birthdays, and all the ones we had before.

01/16/2016 12:39pm

As always Kim you knit this together with such tender strands of love that it showed the delicate balance of love. We love and yet when we lose we are left with gaping holes. Holes that never get filled. Not till heaven when he will finally wipe away every tear. Every. Tear. I love the way you write because you bleed on paper, just like Hemingway told us we should. And I love how you love her. And that is present tense because you never will stop loving her. Her birthday will always be her birthday. But you will pick up really celebrating like you did when the princess is seated across from you at the marriage feast of the lamb. Love your writing, Kim. Love you too.

01/18/2016 11:57am

Thank you so much for your encouragement, Anne! And I can't wait for the day when He does wipe every tear. What glorious time that will be! Thanks for sharing in the sorrow & encouraging me on both personally and through my writing. <3

01/16/2016 1:37pm

My sweet emily "emma" will be 20 y.o. On jan 29th. She was taken up to heaven by an angel on 10/25/15 after being hit by a drunk driver. The daily sorrow is so thick and deep but i celebrate the gift that God allowed us to have for 19 years. We will always celebrate her birthday until we see her again face to face. Then, the eternal happiness and celebration will just be beginning.

Becky Loske
12/12/2016 4:59pm

Kim, Your writing always touches my heart. I face a similar situation with the counting of wedding anniversaries with my husband, who died of brain cancer 10/9/2013. We were together for 21 blessed years of marriage. It's such a habit to add a year at each anniversary, but I realized we're no longer married after the 21st year. It's taken over 3 years, but I've trained myself to answer that we were married 21 years. It will be tough next year, which would have marked our 25th, if only he had lived longer. I'm trying to look to the future of my life, while he is in Heaven in his Savior's arms.

Laurie Harrison
12/12/2016 10:58pm

Kim -- I want you to read some of Susan Dieter-Robinson's writings. Please do a google search for Love Rocks to learn about her story, the loss of her two daughters (in my town) and how her faith has helped her to cope.


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