Monday, January 21

:: To Olivia On Your Third Birthday ::

My precious Olivia,

Today we celebrate your third birthday without you.  Sometimes I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that you are not here with us anymore. I work and rework the events of that day and all the days before it trying to will just one little part to be different so maybe you would still be here.  I even second guess decisions from years before.  If I could just make one, tiny, seemingly inconsequential decision different, could we have altered the outcome?!?  I drive myself crazy going round and round about this in my head. Almost as if thinking about it and changing different decisions mentally could bring you back. And then I stop. I realize that satan is the author of confusion and doubt. I repeat these words to myself..."There is nothing you could have done."  And then these...which are the hardest...there is nothing you CAN do.  My thoughts always end in that cold, hard truth. And then I pull out my bible seeking comfort and peace and read this verse:

“Indeed, how can people avoid what they don’t know is going to happen? None of us can hold back our spirit from departing. None of us has the power to prevent the day of our death.” (Eccles. 8:7-8)

In November Daddy and I planted an Olive tree for you in the front yard and marked it with a beautiful stained glass stepping stone. It pictures a sleeping baby angel with beautiful pink wings and your name.  CC and I made it on the anniversary of your passing to keep busy, and I can see it from my kitchen window and it always makes me smile. It reminds me of you, especially in these winter months when everything else is leafless and gray. Your little tree stands there with these beautiful sage green leaves. Tiny yet shining bright. Just like you.  It was an appropriate tree for you for many reasons. Your name is derived from the word "olive" and you are named after your great, great grandmother, Mary Olive and Aunt Caroline Olivia. On your cemetery marker we inscribed Psalm 52:8:

"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God. I will trust in God's unfailing
love, forever and ever."

When I visited your resting place last week and  read that verse as I always do, I was reminded that no matter the conditions surrounding olive trees, they will live and grow and thrive. It is even said that they cannot be killed.  And I am reminded that, like your little olive tree, we as your parents must have the same tenacity.  It is a rocky and dry path at times without you here, baby girl. But there is peace and joy that can only come from the Lord, too.  Yes, it was not by coincidence that you were named for the olive tree. It is a symbol of peace.  An olive branch was brought to Noah by a dove after the biblical flood, which means that although the waters rose and raged around that olive
tree, it survived the flood and still produced fruit. And my promise to you sweet girl is that we will too. I know that is what you would want.  The waters definitely rise and we
miss you more than can be described in words, but we will continue to produce fruit while we wait for the day we will live with you again in heaven for eternity because God promises us that...

"When (we) pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over us..." Isaiah 43:2

Today we celebrated your birthday in Animal Kingdom and yesterday we celebrated
Parrish's in Legoland. It is good to keep busy on hard days like this.  But we all kept thinking how much you would have loved it here.  Brother is bringing pink Minnie Mouse
ears back just for you. Last week he asked me why we have never taken him to see where you are buried so I guess it is time to let him visit. We were waiting for him to be old enough to understand and his wanting to go is just another way he has grown up so
much this year. We sent your brother to Kindergarten a baby and half way through the
year he is a big boy with no baby left!  I wish so badly you were still here to see it all and
live it all with us.

The other day I was thinking about whether or not I really thought you could see us from heaven. Part of me hopes you can while another part hopes you can't. Could you
possibly be happy seeing how sad we all are without you?  But then I read Psalm 39:5

"You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a
moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath." 

And I think that if you can see us on earth the events are so fleeting in your big picture
that you are not sad and that makes me happy. Maybe there isn't even the capacity for sadness in heaven because we are restored and with The Lord.  These things I can
never know for sure, but what I do know is that when I look in your new baby brother's
eyes and see his excitement and big toothless grins I always think of you. I am sure you
selected him just for us. You knew we needed healing and you knew he was just the one
to do it. His spirit is so much like yours...sweet, content, excitable and happy, happy,
happy. Yesterday at legoland he laughed out loud so hard and so long that his whole
little body would stiffen up and shake. Daddy always jokes that he has an abundance of endorphins and you did too!!  Thank you for helping God choose him just for us.

We can see your citrus tree in CC and Grandaddy's yard here in Florida and this
morning I looked out our window at it and sang happy birthday to you. It makes me smile to see it thriving and bearing so much fruit.  It's bitter sweet to stand in the place where we planted that with you when you were Knox's age and be planting one for him now without you here with us.  

Happy third birthday, sweet Sissy!  We love you more than the sun, moon and stars and all the peanut butter and jelly and grains of sand in the whole wide world. 

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