Bittersweet Dance Steps

When she was born, our doctor yelled (literally) triumphantly, “It’s a girl!” The nurses cheered, I cried, and Brian just grinned, looking a bit shell-shocked. (He was convinced we were having another boy, and because there are just so few surprises left in life, we had decided to not find out what we were having with my pregnancies.)

After they had weighed her and cleaned her and pronounced her a 9.9 on the Apgar test, they swaddled her and placed her in my arms. The setting sun streamed through the windows as I held her marveling at each one of her features, so tiny and new and breathtaking. She settled and slept.

Last night, she and I cried together over school’s beginning and how much we would miss each other. “Oh, Mommy!” she stroked my hair, a gesture she’s learned from me, “I am going to miss you so much.” You have no idea, dear girl, no idea of the ache in my chest and the lump in my throat as I think about Tuesday.

I sang to her as I do most nights, “At all times I will bless Him… though lions roar with hunger we lack for no good thing… let us exalt His name together forever…” I got halfway through before her sobs erupted again.

The boys heard Bella girl’s cries and came from their beds. “Bella?!” each one’s concern palpable, “What’s wrong?” I told them how sad she was to think of how much we’d miss each other. They each hugged her, held her, told her how they would be at school to take care of her if she needed anything. And I marveled at my boys yet again. The hearts they have for each other blows me away. But she couldn’t be consoled.

When Bri came in to her room and held us both, I looked up at him and asked him, “How do I fix this?” I ached to calm her, to ease her fears. Isn’t this the cry of a parents’ heart? Wanting to ease the pain our children suffer.

To soothe her, we rocked together–until she cried herself to sleep in my arms in the exact same position where she had settled 5 years ago. I sat there with her curled on my lap and whispered to Brian, “She’s still so little. When I held her like this the day she was born she was so very tiny, but she’s still just so little.” He nodded and sighed, his Daddy’s heart full.

I’ve heard it said that to the caterpillar it’s the end of the world, but to the butterfly it’s just the beginning.

My little butterfly is beginning new and wonderful adventures on Tuesday.

This constant and intentional letting go is hard, and honestly, y’all, this one is so hard not just because she’s my last one to head off to kindergarten, but because she doesn’t remember a mommy who wasn’t sick. I am grieving the time with her I’ve lost, but I’m grateful for all the time I’ve had.

And so we look forward… pressing ahead… choosing joy because there is so much joy to be had. It’s the beauty of the bittersweet. Of not fixing things, but giving her the freedom to struggle, to grow, to move forward and to walk through it all with her pointing her to Jesus along the way.

She woke early this morning and tiptoed downstairs to peek around the corner at me. I heard her stifled giggle as she covered her mouth with her hands. She ran and jumped on the couch next to me and asked with sparkly eyes full of light, “Is today school?”

“Tomorrow.” I smiled.

“I’m excited.” she yawned and leaned into me, “I’m sad but excited and happy.” She shook her head as if trying to comprehend how to even be sad and happy at the same time.

As I pulled her into me, I told her I was sad and happy, too.

It’s all bittersweet. This watching her excitement and being excited for her. But this watching her wrestle with the ache and aching with her, too.

“Everything stops in those moments when I really see [her]…I see the way [her] mind works and the way [she] sees the world, and I realize in those moments, that the world [she] sees is full of beauty and mystery, that it’s waiting to be discovered, new every day.” (~Shauna Niequist)

We are filling our last day before school with each other, the boys and Bella and I… play doh creations and coloring and reading and playing and card games and just. being. together.

I am learning.

Learning the steps in this waltz of grief and joy that life holds.

Yes, at times the steps are bittersweet.

But, y’all, the dance is beautiful.

6 responses to “Bittersweet Dance Steps”

  1. Your way with words, your love for your children so palpable through the screen…I am always amazed when I come to this place.

    Enjoy this last day of your caterpillar-girl, as she prepares to be a butterfly!

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  2. I thought about not reading this post, knowing what it would stir up in me! But I did anyway (of course!) As you know, I am right there with you, my friend, and I will be praying for you all day tomorrow. This parenting thing is so, so hard!

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  3. So beautiful! Love this post. I’ll be thinking of you two tomorrow – I’m sure you both will rise to the occasion and just think how quickly the day will fly by and how excited she’ll be to tell you about her day.

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  4. Oh Ange. You beautifully put to words what I feel. My heart rate increased just reading this. I feel how fleeting the days are with my sweet ones. It’s like trying to hold water in your hands. And you are so right – the steps are bitterweet – but the dance is beautiful. Waltz on!

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  5. How did I miss this post yesterday?! Your words moved me again. I hope Bella’s first day was a wonderful transition to the rest of her life, and I hope for you, Angie, choosing joy every moment of the rest of yours. You girlies are lovely flutterbies. 🙂

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  6. Oh..my the boys look grown up not to mention baby bella as well, days fly by so fast..God bless the kids.

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