I didn't grow up living in one house. My dad worked his way up through chain of commands through the California Highway Patrol, and each promotion typically meant change for our family. A new home. A new school. New friends. Life as a highway patrol daughter, for me, meant adjusting to change. For the most part, I never really looked at my life differently from anyone else's. It was my normal. I never once thought that life for the time being was unpredictable.
Now my own children have moved throughout their lives. And they have adjusted. Just in the same ways that I did. My father retired as captain shortly after Sarah was born. They have a permanent residence. Grandma and Grandpa's home, has become that predictable permanent place for the grand kids. I dream of eventually having that house my children and my grandchildren call home. Where they know mom and dad's, or grandma and grandpa's hearts will always be. Where our walls are warm with memories and laughter and love are only a visit away.
After Savannah passed away, I acknowledged that our home never actually got to be hers. But I could feel her all around me. One morning after Savannah was gone, the kids asked me to sit in the gym at thier school and watch them during morning stretch. My heart was still broken; frail; fragile in every sense of the words. I knew I had to be a supportive momma. I knew their hearts were still broken; frail; fragile. So I agreed. And I mustered up the smiles any mother who has lost a child knows all too well. Let me try to describe this smile. You smile, knowing you are one moment away from throat burning, lip quivering tears. You feel as though behind that smile you are carrying around ounces of warm salty tears, knowing you have to hide them from the world. It's the most difficult and heartbreaking smile.
I walked Michael and Sarah across the parking lot towards the gym. The nights were beginning to become cooler, and dew glistened on everything. The sky was blue and the morning sun was already hot on our backs ready to heat the brisk feeling in the air. Nothing about these mornings had changed from the weather that greeted us every morning we departed from our room back to the hospital anxious to see our Savannah after a long night away from her.
I sat on the bleachers and Brody nestled into my lap. All of the students and teachers began their day, stretching and exercising to upbeat music to charge their bodies and minds for the day ahead of them. I watched as other mothers laughed, encouraged, and stretched right along with their own little people. None of them had heartache in their eyes. Michael and Sarah smiled and waved at me. My heart shattered into a million pieces. I knew they deserved more. More than I could give them at that very moment. As they stood working their little arms in circular motions, their big brown eyes never far from my face, a song began playing and danced across every inch of that gymnasium. "The house that built me." By Miranda Lambert.
I am a listener. I can't help but dissect a song word for word. The song didn't really pertain to me. A girl going back to her childhood home, just for a small taste of what made her, well her. Just so she could collect all of those memories in her heart and heal whatever heartache she was experiencing at that moment. I looked around at thousands of happy, smiling, eyes. Filled with their childlike innocence. And that was the exact moment I knew I would never get to see Savannah dancing. I knew I would never see her stretch her little arms. I knew her little brown eyes would never scan for her mommy again. I knew Savannah would never just need to come home. Savannah never came home.
And my smile had faded. Brody and I got up, and walked slowly, hand in hand back to the car. And those warm salty tears glistened from my cheeks like the morning dew. I buckled my little man into his carseat. He stared at me in silence. Brody can be so good at acknowledging when no words are needed. I kissed him and climbed into the drivers seat. We sat there a little bit and I reminded myself that everything was alright.
I heard that song today. Almost eighteen months since she stared back into my eyes. It triggered that morning at the kids school. I thought of future Christmases. One day, my kids will bring their husband and wives to my home. We will talk about memories, and create new ones with our grandchildren and son-in-law or daughter-in-laws. But she won't be there. Her husband will be absent. Her beautiful children will be nothing but a dream I had for her, once upon a time. But I will always think of her. I will always think of who they might have been. Savannah has made her permanent residence in heaven. And one day we will reside there with her.
These triggers never seem to leave me. But it's also sentiment. Because for a moment... it brings her back home to me.