You guys. Shine this year was amazing. Everyone looked so fantastic, the drinks were flowing, the auction was incredible, the volunteers were ON IT, the games were wild (per usual), the dance floor was lit, the list goes on. Check out the video to see what I mean. Everyone had such a great time!
I learned a great deal from last year’s event, so this year’s went much smoother. I was less overwhelmed with the event itself, so I seriously had the best time. It does my heart so much good to have a celebration for my girl that truly reflects her legacy of joy and giving. However….
About a week before this year’s Shine event, I felt paralyzed. My throat felt tight, my heart was constantly pounding, and my head was spinning. It took me a while to realize exactly what I was feeling, but when it finally dawned on me I saw it so clearly. I was angry. Like, ANGRY. I still am.
I’m angry that while planning an incredible and joyous event, I can’t FULLY embrace and enjoy all of it because in the back of my mind I know all of this is happening because my baby died.
I’m angry because I didn’t choose any of this. When I was pregnant with Annie I was in nursing school. I graduated, got my license, and I haven’t worked a single day as an RN. Life has changed in so many crazy ways since the day I began my nursing journey. The day before the event, I broke down in tears and just kept saying over and over, “how did I get here?”
On Annie’s actual birthday, my family and I were out of town. Usually I go through her box of belongings and mementos on that day, cry, and remember. This year I didn’t. The day came and went while we played in the clear crisp water of the Frio River in Texas with family. A few days later we came across her box while working on the house, and I stopped everything to go through her precious things. I came across the bag with her hospital blanket. I carefully unwrapped it and brought it to my face, I pressed it to my cheek and took a deep breath in. I started to cry.
Robert looked knowingly at me and said, “does it still smell like her?”
I looked at him and said, “I don’t know.”
Then I wept. Hard.
I’m angry that the day she was with us is getting further and further away and those memories that were once firm and crisp are fading away.
My girls, of course, flocked to me and hugged me as I cried. I realized one of them was trembling. I looked up, and my tear stained face was looking directly into the tear stained face of my sweet Harper Lou. Harper was only two when Annie was born, but now she is eight and has some big feelings about her sister. She cried with me, because she is deeply hurt that she has a sister that isn’t here with her. She knows how precious sisters are, and the older she gets, the more she feels something missing. Oh, man, am I angry about that.
One of the things that makes me angry and I feel like I can actually do something about, is this. Any time I expressed anger or sadness or anything negative about Shine and the event, someone would “yeah, but” me. For example, I would say something like, “I hate that we even have to do this. I hate that we’re having a party ‘in honor of’ instead of ‘for’ Annie.” And then someone, (everyone, including my own husband), would reply, “yeah, but look at all the amazing things that are being done in her name!” Or, “yeah, but wow! You raised money for a good cause!” etc, etc.
Good people of the world, can we NOT do this. I understand that it comes from a place of love and compassion, and I know for a fact I’m guilty of doing this myself. It is so hard to see people we love in pain. I’m here to tell you that it has the complete opposite effect, however. It piles MORE negative feelings on top of the ones we already have. Instead of being sad and angry that my baby died, now I’m sad and angry that my baby died, I feel guilty for not solely being grateful that so many people have contributed their time and treasure to her event, and I feel ashamed that I shared a dark part of myself with someone. That makes me think next time I’ll just keep it to myself and only tell people the good stuff… (or, because I’m Abbey and a hardcore enneagram 4, I put all my feelings on the internet because they have to go somewhere or I’ll explode.)
Honesty and vulnerability have seriously been like a weapon for me. The more honest and vulnerable I am, the more I can fight the darkness that wells up. This year has been so hard. I think it was harder because last year was fairly easy, and I thought that meant it would continue to get easier. I have been fighting chaos and depression in my heart and mind, and I need my weapon now more than ever, because I am so, beyond angry, that this is all we get. I am doomed to a lifetime of birthday parties without the birthday girl, and I made this realization the week before her celebration. When I think this thought, my face tenses with stress and I feel tears of anger and pain running down my clenched jaw. This is awful, and no amounts of “yeah, buts” will ever wash this away.
There is an infinite amount of ands to be had though…
This is all we get AND I’m going to continue to make the best of it. ✨