Although I made it through her birthday with no tears, the day of her birthday party, my emotions started pouring out. I was so soft-hearted and sensitive that day. I kept tearing up the whole morning while I was getting dressed and getting things ready for the afternoon birthday party. I just kept picturing our little gathering for Avery Kate's first birthday the previous year and how we sent her balloons. It was just a constant reminder that Avery Kate did not have a party like Aubrey was about to have. It made me realize that this was the party Avery Kate was supposed to have last year and instead we all went to the graveyard. That is just not how things are supposed to be. I was just so upset and teary eyed and I walked outside to find a tiny white feather in the driveway. I'm telling you... I lost it right there in the driveway! My baby girl sent me that feather to remind me that she is ok, and that she has the most amazing birthdays each year, birthdays that we can't even begin to imagine. From then on I was much better. It was the most perfect birthday party ever. The theme was "Cute as a Button" which she absolutely was! Aubrey enjoyed her cake and she got to see her family and close friends. I couldn't have asked for anything more, and the best part was that I actually enjoyed it too.
Hallie went on a field trip to the local pumpkin patch in October. She picked pumpkins for herself and Aubrey and then picked out a special one for Avery Kate. My heart is just so touched by this child. We brought it to her grave and once again I'm amazed by the actions of my four year old child.
She always remembers her sister in Heaven and just has the most pure soul. I just can't even put into words how Hallie still connects with her sister on a daily basis. It may sound crazy, but I had posted a while back how a friend told me that if you are thinking about someone in Heaven it's because they are with you at that moment. I always believed it, but it's been confirmed for me since then. Lately, and the most random times, I'll start to think about Avery Kate, sometimes it's a good memory and other times it's a horrible flashback memory of that day she went to Heaven. I never say anything because trust me, I talk enough as it is, I don't need to share every single thought that goes through my head! Anyways, every time I think about her, Hallie will say, "Mom, I miss Avery Kate." Completely out of the blue! And sometimes I'll ask her, "What made you think of her?" And she just says, "I don't know I just miss her." I don't think that's a coincidence at all, so I started telling her that I think it's because Avery Kate is with us so we think about her at the same time. I just think that is so neat. I also believe that Aubrey knows Avery Kate. I've always believed that Avery Kate and PawPaw handpicked Aubrey to send to us because she is just the absolute perfect gift from God. And because I believe this, I believe they knew each other before Aubrey came to Earth. It may be far fetched but that's ok; it makes me smile. Sometimes, Aubrey just looks into the thin air and laughs and smiles and starts having a conversation in her own language. I love to believe that she is talking to her sister. Again, it makes me smile and I'm going with it even if it makes me seem a little crazy :)
October was just a super busy month. We also took family pictures mid-October. This was another tough experience because I just didn't know how I was going to take a true family picture without my sweet Avery Kate. I felt guilty for taking pictures without her because clearly she is part of our family and still part of our every day lives. A friend of mine who also lost her baby shared some ideas from her family pictures and I was at such peace with these ideas. I felt like I was finally able to have my entire family, all three girls, in one picture together. It brings tears to my eyes each time I see these pictures. Thank you to Kimberly Parfait with Parfait Photography for capturing these wondering moments for my family. These pictures mean more to me than you'll ever know.
Here are a few pictures:
The last day of October was of course Halloween. The weather was predicted to be horrible so our neighborhood decided to change Halloween to the day prior that way the kids would be able to trick-or-treat and enjoy the night. It was a great night, but I had a lump in my throat the whole time. Every time I looked at my precious Cinderellas I couldn't help but think that there was a Cinderella missing. There should be another sweet Cinderella in that wagon with the girls, there should be three smiling Cinderellas trick-or-treating with us. It's always the hardest holiday for me because it was the only one that we had Avery Kate with us. It's just really tough for me because those memories are still so clear for me and I know what it should be like now, and it's not, never will be. I'll never get to take my three girls for a ride in the wagon to get candy and that reality hits me hard at Halloween. Just another one of those things in life that is simply unfair. And even though I know that and accept it, doesn't mean I like it.
And then the dreaded month of November came. I must say I did a lot better than I thought I would during that dreaded week. I felt a few butterflies in my stomach, had a little anxiety, and I must say dropping Aubrey off at Mrs. Kathy's that Wednesday was really tough. I kept having that feeling that I would never see her again. But I stopped myself, stopped the thoughts, and told myself that I cannot live a life in fear. I can't. It's not healthy and it doesn't help anyone or anything to worry and stress. It's out of our hands anyways, we are not the ones in the driver seat so what good is it to worry? So I calmed down, went to work, and had a great day! The 9th, the actual day was on that Saturday and we went to our friend's house to watch the LSU game. We were surrounded my wonderful, positive people and it just made the day go on without a tear. It helped that we had something to do and had our kids with us too. It's never good to be alone when you're upset, I think it makes things worse so I try to surround myself with positive people as often as possible. It's amazing what a difference that can make in a person's life.
We moved into our new house the following week. That was another tough one. It was so hard to leave the only home where Avery Kate lived. I could look at any inch of our house and have a memory of her. We brought her home from the hospital there, I stayed home with her for 8 weeks in that house, and the list goes on. I remember the way she looked at the living room ceiling fan right before she dosed off to sleep. I remember how she looked around when I took my bath and had her in her little bouncy seat in the bathroom. I remember taking pictures of her, well, in every single room of the house because I'm obsessed with pictures. And then I also have those awful memories that are even painful to type about. I remember buckling Avery Kate into her carseat that November morning. I remember taking her picture, I remember kissing her- never knowing it would be my last. I remember walking into that empty house on the night of November 9. I remember going into her empty room and just crying in her chair. I remember those feelings of disbelief and sadness I felt as I sat in that house. I remember the months that followed in that house as well. I remember the days I sat alone in Avery Kate's room and just soaked up all our memories of changings and feedings in that room. And now..all those memories will stay there, or so I thought. I was so sad about moving, but happy on the other hand because this is a house that Brandon and I built (OK so we picked everything out and someone else did the dirty work, but this was ours). I just couldn't help but think of the new and happy memories we get to make at this new house. This is a good thing. As hard as it was to leave that house, I'm glad we did. We are just loving the new house! I'm just over the moon about the way everything turned out. I feel so lucky and blessed to be here. And now....let the memory making begin! Here is one of my favorite views of the kitchen:
Thanksgiving this year was celebrated at our new house! I was so excited to have our first holiday at our new house. It was perfect! I loved having everyone over and having room for everyone to eat and move around. It just made me my heart smile :) Hallie also had a Thanksgiving picnic at her school this year. She was dressed as an Indian for the Thanksgiving feast. She had a necklace around her neck with leaves that had what she was thankful for written on them. This one was my favorite:
Now we are in the month of December and getting ready for Christmas. It's been a busy year this year, but I've still had time to realize a few things. This second year without Avery Kate has been harder than the first year. My first year I was either sick and pregnant or I was focusing on my sweet Aubrey. I realized that since my mind was so occupied with other life events, I never really grieved the loss of Avery Kate the way I should have until now. Now I am realized that my arms are empty again. Aubrey is older and doesn't want to be held. Aubrey really helped me through that first year or so; and in ways I had no idea she could help. It helped me to have that happiness in my life. It helped me to get excited about her first Thanksgiving, her first Christmas, etc. It helped me to get excited about her outfits and bows. All of those baby things that I thought I would never be able to do again, I was doing with Aubrey and it helped me. But now I no longer have a baby. And the reality of never holding Avery Kate again or never celebrating a holiday with her again hurts so bad. All the new exciting "distractions" of my life are no longer "new." I'm forced to face this head on. I do think I handle well and I'm not afraid of my feelings. I still talk about Avery Kate to anyone who will listen. I will never let her memory fade. That little girl has made me who I am today and I am so thankful to have had her in my life; even if it were only for a short time.
I also have a huge milestone that I've accomplished since moving into the new house. I put Aubrey to sleep in her own room. I did it! It only took a year and some change, but I did it! She absolutely loves it and will sleep 13 hours if I let her. I have a video monitor and I watch her alllll night long. It's also been one of those things where I have to stop myself and say, "Brandi... have faith. Don't open your eyes. You can't stare at this monitor all night. It's not healthy. Have faith that God will take care of Aubrey tonight and you get some sleep." Yea so sometimes it works, and other times...well I get all cross eyed staring at the monitor deciphering if Aubrey is really breathing or if it's my eyes moving. Some nights I make my self sick watching it and others I have more faith and I can relax and sleep the entire night. I am very proud of myself and I know it's better for her to be in her own room. It's just another piece of the puzzle and the start to making new, positive memories in our new home.
I bought this sign for our new house a few months back and it finally came in. I think it's the perfect finishing touch to our new home. Here's to a new house, new memories, and a new, positive light on life :)