Every year I try to convince myself that I'm prepared for May 31st. Prepared to be strong.
Prepared to hold my head high. Prepared to smile thru the reality of what the day represents. I wake up telling myself "You've got this, Kristen. You can do it!" only to be reminded almost instantly of just how fragile my heart remains after 5 years without Charlotte.
It's in these moments that I have to remind myself that it's OKAY to feel broken.
On May 31st, 2011, our world was shaken to its core and we were forced to say unexpected good-byes to our daughter. Five years isn't going to take that pain away. Quite honestly - I'm not convinced that 10 years, or even 20, will accomplish that feat.
And that's OKAY.
There is no timeline for grieving - no right way to navigate the ups and downs. And while time may not actually 'heal all wounds', it can teach you the importance of being gentle with yourself.
Yesterday Matt and I could have easily let grief make us feel defeated, but instead we took the day in stride and tried to balance the "ugh" with things that made our hearts smile. We were gentle with ourselves and set no expectations for what the day should or shouldn't be.
We ate surprise donuts for breakfast.
We slow danced in the kitchen.
We looked at old pictures and were floored by how much our Maxo resembles his big sister.
We let little boys stay up past their bedtime, soaking in their giggles as they soaked themselves with the hose.
We snuggled a bit longer than normal and said lots of special bedtime prayers to our guardian angel.
May 31st was a day filled with so many ups and downs. It felt anything but graceful, but we made it through. There were tears. There was laughter. But most importantly, there was love. So much love.
I could only be grateful once I realized I would rather have known you for a moment than never at all. I would rather endure the inexplicable pain of outliving you than to never have seen your face, spoken your name. I would rather be yours and you be mine, regardless. Regardless of the sorrow, regardless of the ache, and regardless of the years I will walk this earth carrying you - not in my arms - but in my heart. ~Lexi Berndt