I cannot even come up with a title right now...."Moving on" isn't right because it sounds like we are leaving our Brookie behind. Any reference to time is hard to work with right now. Time is moving on - that is how God designed life - but in some ways it still seems stuck on the day that Brooke passed away.
I miss my girl. How I miss my girl. As I have seen with others going through grief, the time leading up to the burial/memorial is a complete mix of emotions - disbelief, intense grief, but we have something to "do" - we need to get ready for the burial/memorial. Friends surround us - we don't have to go some place where people don't know we are grieving. But then -as is right and good - life must continue onward....
Handsome felt it most after the memorial. He thought he was doing really well, especially Sunday evening after the memorial. We were surrounded by precious friends and family. Some had come a long way to be with us. One of my friends that I have not seen since high school came! It was a mix of grief and joy to share Brookie's little life with so many. My mom made the church look so beautiful. We wanted it to be a celebration of her life, so we brought the special things that Brooke loved and reminded us of her that we had already put in a "treasure" box. It made the most beautiful display as people entered, along with big beautiful pictures of her. Each table had a sand pail holding balloons, rubber duckies (she love the bath), and candy sprinkled all around it. It was so perfect. But then Tuesday morning, he just simply missed her. All the activity is done...and the "missing" is still there.
I think that part of my struggle is that I still think she is coming. I have loved her from afar - from pictures and videos - for so long, I just feel like I am still waiting for her to come....that any day now the hole in my heart that is shaped just like Brooke, will be filled. Four days just wasn't enough to make it real that she was finally home. Getting her up in the morning was like getting to open another amazing gift - she was here! She was mine! Now my waiting continues, but in a different way. I am now waiting for the day we are all together in heaven...
I have had to continue onward with doctors appointments and grocery shopping. I almost wish that it was still tradition to wear "mourning" clothes. Then I wouldn't struggle with how to answer the casual question by the cashier of "How are you?" I really don't want to cry in the supermarket line, but I can't really bring myself to say "good". I have settled for, "It has been a tough few weeks, but I am here." No one really questions any farther. It works. Not at my blood draw though (I have to have my blood tested every few weeks to make sure the blood thinner I am on for life is at the right level). She said, "I missed you two weeks ago, you never cancel!" The tears started flowing before I could even really answer her....and then she started crying too....it was a mess. I am glad there were not any other people in the lobby at the time. I feel like I should have some sort of reward each time I return from a "normal life" thing without crying (too much). Pretty sad, huh?
But even with the grief, my life needs to continue on. Brookie is just tucked in my heart for the journey, rather than holding my hand.
And life is still beautiful. Jillian is such a firecracker - just like big sister Serenity. When Lou and Handsome first got them in China, it really seemed that she couldn't do much with her hands. But they both allowed her the opportunity (and insisted a bit) that she begin trying to do some things by herself. She has made huge progress. She has now figured out that she has a tiny part of her hands that she can "pinch" something small with - like a piece of bread and feed herself. She almost has the hang of using a spoon. We found a sippy cup that she can use by herself. She is SOOOO much happier. The more she can do, the less frustration and temper tantrums.
She is still greatly limited and that brings a great deal of frustration and crying - very hard on all of us. I am counting the days until her first huge appointment with the craniofacial team and the hand surgeon. I know she will need a vault expansion sooner rather than later (making the back of her head bigger) - but I am really hoping we can get her in to have her hands worked on very quickly. I know it will depend on what they find with the CT scan. Eleven more days...
In the meantime, the most precious part is the camaraderie between Jillian and Little Man. They are 7 months apart, but in many ways on the same level as Little Man is a little more advanced for his age (due to so many big siblings to copy) and Jillian is a little delayed due to orphanage living. They make quite the pair. We are calling them the "Chipmunks" as they run and play and get into mischief just like two little chipmunks would. Oh, how I love it! It reminds me of the days when Smiley, Romeo, and The Professor were all under two years old. (They are only 2 months apart.) It was crazy, but it was so much exhausting fun. I will post more pictures soon - but here are two from the other day:
I think it has been very good for Jillian to see Little Man doing "normal" family life - she hasn't seen it before.
So what does Serenity think? We wondered as she still looks intently at people's hands and feet - what would she think about someone that looked like her? It has been a weird combination. She was very happy with Jillian's (webbed) feet like hers. BUT she is not happy with Jillian's hands. She keeps trying to pull the fingers apart - much to Jillian's dismay! She also is obsessed with Jillian's head shape and wants to continually run her hand over it. Needless to say, Jillian is NOT happy with all the touching - because it is very determined touching and Serenity does NOT back off!
It has been a tough time for Serenity. She has her Lou back to love on her - she had missed her! And Jillian is Snip's buddy - so Serenity doesn't have to share Lou - but she is still very jealous. I think the biggest issue is that she wants to be like the Chipmunks - playing silly and rough, eating messy, doing "toddler" things...but in reality, she is a six year old. It is the same way when we bring a newborn home - you realize that the next one is growing up...only Serenity would prefer not to. It has been a good, gentle reminder to me that I need to start expecting more of Serenity, little by little. We have let her stay in the "toddler" world, but it is not good for her. I will of course still snuggle and love on her - I do that with all my kids until they decide they are too big to sit on my lap....but I need to help my little daughter start to move forward. She has gotten so tall and her looks have changed. She looks like a four/five year old - but she still wants us and company to pick her up and hold her like a baby. It is getting understandably awkward for those outside of our immediate family. When she plays with The Boss, who is 4 months younger, but in reality quite a ways ahead of her, she behaves on a higher level - not a six year old, but better than a toddler. This has been good and The Boss does very well playing with her - but I am seeing she would prefer the "toddler" level, not the school-age level.
So, I think our first step will be to potty-train her. I honestly should have tried a year ago - but I am just simply completely dreading it. I think that with her (as with everything with her) it will either be super easy and she will catch the hang of it immediately OR she will fight it tooth and nail. Potty training is really, really, really not a happy thing to do. I have not had an easy adjustment with any of my kids. I would so appreciate prayers for patience and wisdom with her.
I am praying about some other ways to encourage her to move forward. We have stopped putting her in a high chair even though that makes containing her as she eats much easier. I also need to work more on letting her help with more and more things. She LOVES having something to do but she HATES having to do it any way but hers. I am praying for more direction and wisdom. Please pray for her, that she knows she is loved completely and that she will learn to ENJOY moving ahead.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. God is good. Always. We hurt, but we continue on the path He has laid out for us....