I woke up to the taste of saltwater.
And the refrain of a bittersweet birthday song.
I'd been dreaming. Of a tiny white perfect bird in my hand, unable to fly. Until I let go.
It wasn't a dove... it was like a baby chickadee, in pure white.
Only when I separated my hands and raised them to the sky, did it fly from the cocoon I had imagined was keeping it safe.
And it felt a lot like how we had to release Gracie, knowing her flight wouldn't bring her back to us.
She's eleven, you know.
It's hard to accept that more than a decade has passed, because some wounds refuse to heal.
Time doesn't heal everything. Because there simply is a hole where she belongs.
My sister spends today at the ocean. Like she always does when celebrating her girl's birthday.
Last year ten pink and purple balloons lifted high above the sand on an overcast and windy day.
And I reaffirm every year that God is good. That we shouldn't waste the hard things. That Gracie brought SO MUCH MORE than heartbreak to our family.
I am stunned, again and again, how many of you have experienced this kind of grief in your families. How you survive and keep breathing, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep loving.
Because today, there's saltwater on my cheeks and a birthday song in my heart.