I felt shattered, I didn't want to get rid of our old car, I wanted to get rid of our new car. I wanted nothing to do with that new big fancy beast. I wanted my old, horribly stained seats small car with the check engine light that never turned off where McKenna and I could keep our memories. My husband walked to the building to get the keys while I stood outside staring at the car. I literally felt like I was at a funeral saying my goodbyes. I never thought it would be so difficult or even upset me the way it was but I was seriously depressed. I didn't want to let go of the memories, I didn't want anymore change, so much had already changed since her death. I know you have to keep moving forward but it felt like life kept telling me even that was not good enough! It wanted to strip me of our past with her by taking away all that I had left... the material things that reminded me of her. It wanted to drop bombs on my life and not only force me to move on but to make everything change so I would no longer fill a connection with her. At this rate it seemed like it would soon start to feel like an old life, someone else's life, someone who had a very sad story about losing a little girl but eventually they got over it because nothing was the same.
NO, I WONT LET THIS HAPPEN TO US. CHANGE WILL NOT TEAR THIS FAMILY APART! I opened the car and just let myself have it out. I cried, I laid my head where her little car seat use to be. I got in the front and looked through the rear view mirror, I had it slightly tilted so I could see her and out the back window like I always did when we were driving. I imagined seeing her and listinening to her sing those sweet tunes and all the joy they brought me. I remembered the road trips, the drives to and from school, the tantrums, the messes, the chaos and the love. So much had happened in this car, so many memories captured, I never realized how much happiness it brought me, how can I let this car go? I started to take some pictures but it just wasn't doing justice, I wanted to remember every inch of that car that reminded me of her so I decided to record it. I kept it brief because honestly I felt like a weirdo crying in the car and filming empty seats but I just didn't want the moment to end. I didn't want to say my "goodbyes" I just wanted to cherish the car forever and never let it go. As I ended the video my husband started walking toward me. It was in this moment I realized one last detail, in this car was the last time I saw McKenna.
My moments with her on that last day are crystal clear because for some reason I did things out of my normal routine. I slowed down, I took my time with her. I played and even chose to run late to school. We got in the car and sang our songs. We yelled at school buses to stop and let us in (she had a strange obsession with school buses, I think because she saw Dominic get in one every morning. She loved them and always wanted to get on one so I would drive behind them and pretend that I was trying to get them to stop and let us on the bus. She always thought that was funny and would yell with me "Stop skool bus! Stop!" and then when it would eventually turn she would squinch her little face and say "Aww man!" I was actually considering doing some kind of birthday party where I could rent a bus and drive her in it as ridiculous as that sounds! She just loved them so much!) Anyway, we parked in front of the daycare. She was still wearing a Spiderman hat. I was going to tell her to leave it since it was Dominic's but she had already taken it off. She had a little white rabbit that was Zoe's that she took on the car ride every day. She would kiss it goodbye, give it a hug and tell him that she would see him later after school. I picked her up and put her little hood over her head (she always liked it on) then I shut the door and smothered her in kisses as we walked towards the school.
Zach saw this was difficult for me and let me stay with the car as long as I needed. He was already sitting in our new car waiting when I finally got in and tried to pretend that this wasn't eating me alive. He then whispered "We can buy the car back from the insurance company if you want, I don't mind." Then came the tears for a round 2, I sobbed and told him I knew that was ridiculous and we didn't have the money. I was just sad and it felt as horrible as walking away from her in the hospital after she passed. I didn't understand the pain myself but all I knew was my baby girl was alive and we shared real memories everyday in that car. He rubbed my back, I took one last look at the car and finally told him we could leave. We drove away and I knew that I would never see that car again and as hard as I try to fight it, life will always force me to move on.
Another form of change we had was finding out I am pregnant! This was a surprise for my husband and I since we were not planning on having a child for a while (Yes, I know this sounds a lot like Zoe's story) but the difference this time is neither one of us panicked. After seeing all the joy that Zoe has brought us and how she spared us from even more pain after loosing McKenna, I know the Lord has very clear plans for all of my children and His timing is always perfect. I wish I better understood his timing and plans especially in regards to McKenna but I don't think I will get any of those answers in this life. Of course it was still emotional to find out I was pregnant. It's a very "bitter-sweet" situation. It's bitter because physically in this moment I will be having 3 kids... again! I already had 3 kids, this one should be my fourth (on this earth). McKenna should be having another sibling to love and cherish. I should have a nice little "stair-step" of children all lining up back to back only a few years apart. Instead I have a 6 year old A GIANT GAP and then a one year old. I hate that people who don't know me will look at our family soon and think "Oh they have 3 kids". No we do not! We have 4! I have the stretch marks to prove it! My body gave birth to 4 so why can't I have all 4 with me now!!! It hurts to imagine going through labor, having our child, and then introducing our new little baby to only 2 siblings and not 3. Its a pain that goes deeper then the word "pain". It's an emptiness that starts in the core of my heart and then hollows out through the rest of my body.
I expressed this bitterness to my husband and how unbearable it felt to know that once again life was forcing us to change and even though I was actually happy to have another baby, my heart couldn't handle the idea of McKenna not being apart of this. She had only been gone a few months and yet everything was drastically changing. After talking a while I began to realize the "sweet" in this situation. Yes, McKenna had been gone only a few months which means she was already in Heaven and she got to meet her little brother or sister before the rest of us did. She got to tell them all about this family first hand, what to expect, what we were like, how to trick her brother or make Zoe stop crying. She got to hug and kiss them. Tell them how she would miss them while they were gone but that she looked forward to when we would all return to her again. She was probably the last face they saw before they were sent to this earth and into me. She reassured them how wonderful this life is even with it's trials. She shared her tiny knowledge of her 2 1/2 years of experience and told them how much their mommy and daddy were going to love them. She got to tell them better advice then I ever could. She spent time with them and knows their true personality better then we do since she saw them in their glorious form. She will always have a connection with them just like she would have in this life and for that I am forever grateful.
Our last big change was last night. We all participated in our first "family group therapy". I was very unsure of what to expect, especially because we would all be split. Zach would be with the fathers, me with a bunch of moms, and Dominic with kids his own age. I felt scared to leave my family's side. As we entered the building I was expecting maybe a small room of about 20 people but instead there were more then 60! This broke my heart. Why did there have to be so many people who had lost so much? Why did there have to be so many mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters who had lost something special to them. Why were we the "chosen ones" and why did there have to be so many of us? Isn't life hard enough by itself?
Zach and I looked like the youngest parents in the groups and when we split into our classes McKenna was by far the youngest who had passed. Most of my group had lost teenagers in the saddest of ways. I thought I would immediately feel related to these women since we all had the obvious in common but instead my first feelings toward them were envy. I envied that they were granted with so many more years then me. That they had gotten the opportunity to celebrate more then 2 birthdays, Christmas's, Thanksgiving's, Easter's, and New Years. I was jealous that they probably had tons of pictures, videos, and trinkets to remember their loved ones along with tons of family vacations while I was left with the same handful of videos I have watched a 1000 times and have every single picture and trip memorized. I felt like I could not relate to these women, even though we had lost the same prize, how could they understand what it's like too lose something you only had for 2 short years? I had been robbed of my time!
The room was silent as no one was sure of what to say. The counselors started asking questions and bringing up topics to get us going but we were all lost for words. What exactly are we suppose to do? Just have a melt down in front of each other? I could not have been more guarded, my whole body was tense as I sat with my arms crossed and looked straight into nothingness. I am not good at expressing myself verbally, there is a reason I have a blog to share my emotions, I had no idea what to say. Finally one mom spoke up and soon the others did too before the end of the hour everyone had shared a story, shed a tear, admitted their fears, pain, and overall "exhaustedness". I felt so much compassion on these women and what they had lost. Their situations are equally as bad as mine, if not worse in some ways because they have more memories to be thrown in their faces. More pictures to stab their hearts, more holiday traditions that had been in the making for over a decade and now were obviously not going to be the same.
I was the "oldest" of the group and by that I mean McKenna was the first to pass away. Most of them lost their babies in the summer while I had lost her in the spring. Seeing their pain made me realize that I have come further then I thought. Although up until that moment I felt like my progression was no progression at all, I realized that I was a few steps ahead of them. Not because I was doing anything differently, just that I had more time. Listening, watching, and understanding all of their suffering made me feel like the big sister of the group even though I was the youngest. I could see into their very near future and although I didn't say it I knew that with time it would get a little bit better for them. I know my journey is still at the beginning but it is a small comfort to know that maybe all this moving forward and change is not going to be the death of me. Instead it will give me a new perspective on this life and with time maybe I will find the answer to why we are the "chosen ones" in this situation.
That night I went home feeling a mixture of emotions, one part of me relieved to let some things out but the other part of me was a mom who had just lost her daughter all over again. I keep trying to stich this wound up but it always comes ripping open and every time it does it hurts just as bad as it did the first time. Talking openly with others about the loss of McKenna was tough but it was even harder to talk about who she was, what she liked, and how she made a difference in our family. Sometimes I get so caught up in how hard it is without her I forget how amazing it was with her here. She was a beautiful 2 1/2 year old girl inside and out. She was the glue that held this family together. She was soft and gooey with all of her cuddling but she was tough and strong when she wanted to be. She was an angel who kept me righteous everyday. She reminded me in the car every morning to say a "prayar" before we left the driveway. She sang church songs and loved to go to her Sunday school class. She was a leader and a lover. A daddies girl but also knew she had my heart. She loved fiercely and made sure you always heard her say goodbye before you walked out the door. She was my firstborn daughter, my Kenna Bear, my sassy princess and now she will forever be my guardian angel. It's hard to face all these changes without her but I know even though I can't see her she is standing right beside me whispering "Don't worry mommy, I haven't missed a thing".
This is the video of our car I made the day we sold it to the insurance company, more importantly though is the last video. These are the memories I shared with McKenna everyday in that little car, and this is the reason it was so hard to let it go. Oh how I miss that little beautiful voice so much.