Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Anastasha - One Year Later

We celebrated Anastasha's 1st/Tonya's 37th birthday this week.  As you might expect, it was a bittersweet day.  We looked back with fondness on the gift of Anastasha's life.  But there was also a heaviness in realizing that she has been gone from us for an entire year.  The memory of her life is still very vivid, as is the memory of her loss.

The day began with the kids making Tonya breakfast (which is a tradition we've done for years). This time, instead of bringing it to her in bed, we brought it to the nursery, which is where Mommy has spent most of her free time these days...nursing the twins.

We gave Tonya her presents, which included a pendant that I bought her that has an engraving of a Anastasha's actual footprints.

From 12:39 PM till 1:29PM (the 50 minutes that she was alive), we all sat in the living room together as a family.  We prayed together, thanking God for the gift He gave us in Anastasha.  The kids then read cards and poems that they wrote for her.  After this time was over, we went outside and planted two Magnolia trees in Anastasha's honor.

Later that evening, we went to the cemetery to visit Anastasha's grave.  The girls made her a birthday cake, which we brought with us and ate there.  We sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

Finally, we brought and released some paper lanterns (like from the movie "Tangled").  The kids enjoyed this better than balloons.  We couldn't believe that it actually worked!  You can watch a short video of it below.

Overall the day was a blessing...filled with smiles and laughs and plenty of tears.  We are so thankful to our Father for our sweet little princess.  We can't believe she has been gone for a year already.  But we are so glad that she has spent every moment of that time in the Presence of the King.

Letters to Anastasha on Her Birthday

My Sweet Anastasha...

I can’t believe it has been a whole year already since you were with us.  This year has brought about many changes in my life, but my love for you has not been one of the things that has changed.  It has remained constant and strong.

I think of you so often, my little love.  Every morning when I wake up, I see your beautiful face in a picture above your mother on her side of the bed.  I think of you when I see one of my several patients who are your same age.  And most recently, I think of you when I hold your baby sister, Anabella, in my arms.  Oh how I love you and miss you so.

There are sounds of new life in our house again these days.  Anabella and Caleb are a sweet fragrance to us, a gift from our Good Father.  And while they are a great double blessing, they do not replace you in our hearts.  There is still a spot reserved for you there.  Your absence is still felt in daily ways at our house.

Your mother and brothers and sisters love you so much even though they never really knew you.  You are still talked about like a living, breathing member of our family.  I bless you each night as I bless the other children.  If I ever slip up and say we only have ten children, I am quickly corrected (usually by 3 or 4 kids at once) that we in fact have 11.

I think what has made your loss most bearable to me is knowing where you are and Who you are with.  I know you are with a Daddy Who loves you much more and can love you much better than I ever could.  For that I am so grateful.

Your life has mattered here...a lot.  I still meet people who tell me how you impacted them.  There is even a young man who may be in the Kingdom someday because of you.  And your life has mattered to me.  I have known greater fellowship with Daddy because of you.  I love Jesus more because of you.  And I long for Heaven in ways that I never have before.

So on this first “birthday”, my precious Anastasha, please know that you are loved immeasurably here.  I wish I could hold your little body in my arms again.  I wish I could smell you and kiss your cheeks.  I wish I could watch your little legs carrying you, stumbling across the floor.  I wish I could hear your sweet giggle.  But I know that someday we will embrace again, this time with perfect bodies.  And we will walk together in His Kingdom that has no end, singing of His Goodness forever.  You may have beat me there, but I’ll be there soon. 

I love you my precious one. 

Your Daddy

A Poem from Amalyah:

A Poem from Ariana:

A Note from Charis:

A Card from Corban:

A Picture from Caelan:

A Note from Niyah: