He walked out the door and I stood there steamy and in disbelief that he had put me in this position. As I muttered to myself and continued to throw a pity party McKenna walked up to me with a big smile and wanted to "go play outside". I knew this meant the trampoline, unfortunately I am one of those moms who has a "mom bladder". Three kids have totally ruined my bladder so fun activities like jumping, laughing too hard, and even surprise sneezes are the enemy but I decided I would get on the trampoline this time with her because Dominic was not there and I knew I would not have to jump as hard to play with her. She was so happy I was actually getting on the trampoline, she knew I did not get on there often and was elated to play with me. I brought baby Zoe with us who was 8 months old at the time and she attempted to crawl around the trampoline only interested in the edges of course. To my surprise McKenna was not even interested in jumping. She just wanted to roll this little ball to each other across the trampoline and practice her aiming skills. She thought it was so funny when it actually went to me and was proud when she caught the ones I slowly rolled her way.
Fifteen minutes later that game was too simple so then she switched to the complete opposite and thought it was more amusing to throw the ball off the trampoline and make me go get it. I let this happen for a while until finally I was able to distract her with another game that did not require me to get off and on the trampoline every 2 seconds. The second game was this little toy tiger, he had a button on his back and when you pushed it he would fly across the trampoline and stop just in time before falling off. This time we allowed Zoe to play with us and McKenna continued to yell out "YOUR TURN ZOE! NO MOMMY IT'S ZOE'S TURN" if I did not give up the toy fast enough to Zoe she would quickly retrieve it from me, hand it to her and then stare me down as if I was unwilling to share with her baby sister. She was always protective like that.
The last game we played was McKenna's favorite of all games. Pretending to talk on the phone and then put it in her pocket or her little black purse. She had a cheap fake bedazzled dollar store phone that she would put her ear too and then you would get on your cell phone and talk to her. This was the best game ever and always made her laugh. It was so cute to watch her smile as you pretended like you couldn't see her and would say "OH HEY MCKENNA! What are you doing today? Oh, your outside with Zoe! That's cool! What are y'all doing out there? Oh, playing on the trampoline. Oh wow that sounds like so much fun! I wish I was there! Did you have a good day today? Oh that sounds like a very good day!" She never talked much on the phone, she would just stare at you with her big bright eyes and smile from ear to ear with her little crooked grin. Then she would try to shove the phone in her pocket or purse which was always entertaining because she wasn't coordinated enough to do this in one swift motion yet. After a few laughs I would finally help her place it wherever she was trying to put it away and then she would rip it right back out and we would start the game all over again. I don't know why she loved to see you pretending to talk to her on the phone but she did and it was very adorable.
I remember clearly at one point I really wanted to record it because it was just so cute but I knew if I turned the camera on she would know I was not talking on the phone to her anymore and then be disappointed. I remember clearly telling myself, "You know Shannon, just enjoy the moment. Not everything has to be recorded or have a picture taken of it. She is happy playing with you, leave the camera off and just enjoy this moment with her." So that is what I did. I didn't take any pictures, I left the video off and we played for about 30 more minutes until Zach got home. When he returned I immediately apologized for my bad attitude and told him what a great time I had with McKenna. "It was a good break, I haven't gotten to see her much this week and I was really letting the stress of school get the best of me! I'm glad I was able to take a time out and play with her some. Now I wish I didn't have to leave!"
I gave her a hug and kiss, apologized to Zach one more time, and said goodbye to Zoe then out the door I went back to school. I came home late that night and did not see the kids in time to help put them to bed, then I woke up the next morning completely unaware that getting my daughter ready for school that day would be the last time I would ever see her and that those moments on the trampoline would be the last time we ever played together. I know God gave me that moment. I know He put me in a situation where Zach had to do something and I had to be at the house and I would be forced to stop my daily routine and play with her.
I am so grateful for that. I am so grateful that I listened. I am so grateful that I chose to play instead of stay angry. Sometimes I wish I had pulled my camera out and recorded our last memories together but in a way I know I was meant to spend that short moment a 110% with her. I believe God is the one who whispered that thought in my ear so not even a second of my time would be spent on anything but her. He knew she would be returning to Him soon and He did not want me to waste it on trying to get the perfect picture with the perfect smile from everyone or record it and then waste more time plastering it on social media. It was our moment, our last play date, and it didn't have to be documented and shared for all the world to see, it just needed to be us. A mother and a daughter sharing a private and special memory together reconfirming our love for one another alone in our final moments together.
I think of that day often. The perfection of her smile and personality bursting out of her. I think of how in a matter of seconds she wiped my selfish anger away just by asking me to go outside. I think of all the joy she brought me and the life that we shared together. The day after she died I was sitting at our kitchen table looking out the window and I saw the trampoline. My heart tugged away but my eyes continued to look at it as I recalled only 2 days ago we had been playing in that very spot. Then my heart dropped to my toes as I continued to stare because there on the trampoline was the little bouncy ball we rolled and the tiger that we pushed. I didn't have the strength to go in the backyard and retrieve those toys for about a week. When I finally did collect them it was only because other kids were playing with it and I was afraid they would pop the ball so when they were done I silently snuck them out of the backyard, placed them on my closet floor and wept.
I still have those toys sitting in my closet. I even have her little black purse with her cell phone inside of it. I have the exact outfit she wore the last time I saw her along with her few favorite outfits and dolls. My closet has become my treasure chest for her things that hold great value to me, the only physical remnants I have of her on this earth. Each item possessing a clear memory of a moment we shared together. Proof that she lived, proof that she was here, proof that her 2 1/2 years on this earth could never be wiped away just because her 1 year anniversary is near. I dread the day, I dread the hour, I dread the moment. Only 4 more days and there it will be. One entire year since I've seen my baby girl and people will expect me to feel better. One year...the magic number. The deadline to moving on and feeling better about what happened. Accepting fate and not hurting as much. Who ever made that ridiculous assumption never had part of there soul ripped out of their body.
One year only makes it worse. It mocks my pain. It's a reminder of how long we have been apart and it gives the impression that time has healed these wounds. I have been working on a song I wrote for McKenna but have never gotten passed the chorus because it is just too hard but the part I have written is about this betrayal of time:
"They tell me with time, time, time.
With time I'll see your face again,
With time I'll go grow strong.
With time we'll be together,
With time I'll move on.
With time it won't hurt so bad,
With time less tears.
With time I can hold you close,
With time, time, time.
But what if time is not my friend?
and I don't want to wait till the end!
I'm tired and I just want you to come home. "
Easter was very difficult for our family. It was a strong reminder of last year which was the first holiday we ever had to celebrate after McKenna's passing. The one thing that made it easier for me was General Conference was held on Easter weekend. I have mentioned General Conference on here before. It is where the Prophet and Apostles of the LDS church give talks on spiritual matters twice a year. Saturday Zach and I were going to watch it on the TV at our house. Zach asked me before it started "They say it's good to have a question you want to have answered in your mind before conference starts that way when you are listening to the lessons the answer might come to you more clearly. Is there a question that you had in mind that you have been wanting answers too?" I responded without even hesitation "I would like some answers about McKenna. I still don't fully understand her death, I have hardly gotten anything from her and I would just like something... anything in regards to her." Zach nodded and we went and sat down together in hopes of getting some revelation.
That night we went and painted Easter eggs at my aunt's house. I managed to compartmentalize my feelings and just tell myself one command at a time so I could keep myself from getting too emotional. I would tell myself "Dye the eggs with the kids" "Help clean up the mess" "Don't think about what this is for or what it represents. Just one step at a time." I kept this up all night and was successful till I got home. Exhausted, I put the kids to bed and sat on the couch feeling flustered. I had not received any answers about McKenna like I wanted too, Easter was tomorrow, and McKenna's one year anniversary is next week. I heard my phone vibrate and I saw a text message from a friend of mine who goes to school with me and is also LDS. It said he had sent an email for Zach and I to read when we were home alone about an experience he had in the Temple that day.
Surprised, I quickly opened up my email curious to see what might have happened that would strangely involve me or my husband. The title of his email was "Temple Blessings". As I read it tears flowed down my face and I realized that God had decided to answer my question from earlier that day loud and clear through a friend and I could not have been more humbled or touched.
I will share some of it here:
"....I suddenly couldn't stop thinking about your sweet McKenna. I thought about how much I know you miss her. About the fact that she'll have been gone from this world a year next week. About how I know you long to hold her in your arms tomorrow on Easter and every day. As i was thinking about your family, I didn't hear her voice, I felt very strongly that I was to tell you, from her, how very much she loves you. She wants you to know that though she misses you more than she could convey, she's always with you. She loves to watch you and Zach, Dominic and Zoe together as a family and that she's excited to send her little sister to be with you. She wants you to know that she's so proud of you and that even though it's difficult, she needs you to endure to the end because she's excited to have you with her when your time here on the earth is done. I also felt like she wanted you to know that she's being well taken care of while she waits for you.
The spirit reaffirmed to me how real the covenants we make in the temple are and that the sealing power is binding and eternal. Our families, because of that power, will be together for all eternity. Our Heavenly Father and Christ love us more than we can possibly know. The things we go through here, though often times terrible and unfair, are to help us grow and to show us that when we feel like there's nothing left to do but allow ourselves to be swallowed by darkness, they are there to pull us into the light. I know that Christ lives. I know that he gave us the blessing of eternal life and I know that through the application of his atoning power, we can be made whole. I hope that this weekend you feel the love of our Savior and that my experience might help to make this difficult time for you just a little bit easier to get through. We love you both and will continue to keep y'all in our prayers."
This weekend was tough, next weekend will be worse, but I am so grateful for my Saviors love. I am so grateful that He understands my pain and that He is always willing to go the extra mile to let me know that He sees me, He loves me and He will always be there. No matter how many times I push away or shut down He is always there sending sweet songs of hope and peace. I love my Kenna Bear so much. I greatly wish this Easter could have been spent with her and our other loved ones. I wish next weekend never happened and was just another day in the spring. I am still trying to understand her death. With every message I receive a new piece of the puzzle is revealed and I begin to see the shape of the picture. It is still very incomplete and will require more work on my part but I will endure just like she asked me too because apparently there is a reason behind all of this suffering.
I am so glad that you are happy Kenna Bear. I am happy you are close by and watching us. I am happy you are proud of me. I am comforted that you are taken care of but most of all I am so happy that you love me. I love you too angel and don't worry baby girl, I will endure anything for you. I can't wait to be with you again. I can't wait to spend eternity together. Never forget how much I love you. I hope you had a wonderful Easter, daddy and I thought about you all day. Thank you for all the beautiful memories we shared together, thank you for our final moments together and thank you for reminding me you are never really gone.
McKenna's 1st Easter
Gotta love trying to get one nice family picture on Easter. I love the kids faces in this shot.
McKenna's 2nd/last Easter
(She was OBSESSED with chips and salsa!
Never saw a baby east spicy food the way she did!)
I have shared this picture so many times that I forgot this was actually on Easter.
It is one of my favorites <3
This is a short video of her last Easter with us.
She was always dancing or singing to something. My little musical girl.