Lilly would be two today. She’d be walking and starting to talk. She’d have sandy blonde hair and a smile I can picture perfectly in my mind but can’t quite put into words. I bet she’d have Elsa’s ice powers like every other little girl. I bet she’d love pink and dress like a princess just to go to the grocery store. She’d also have boots and love dogs and play in the dirt with her brother. I bet she would stand next to him on the stool and help their mama cook. I bet she wouldn’t let them leave without her when the boys went for a ride on the ranch. And I bet that wouldn’t bother her daddy in the least.
Lilly’s dad told me recently that the hardest part of losing her is that the farther away it gets, the less he remembers. He doesn’t hurt every day like he once did. He doesn’t think of her loss every moment. I wrote a letter after she died of what Lilly might have said to her parents. As her birthday has approached this year, Bob’s words have stuck in my mind. It helped them to hear what she may have said on the day they buried her. That desire doesn’t go away. And as I’ve thought about Lilly, her mom and dad the past few days – along with every other parent who’s struggled through the loss of a child – one Truth has played constantly in my mind. I think it’s what Lilly would say to her parents on her birthday.
It’s ok to be ok.
It’s ok not to hurt everyday
It’s ok to laugh.
It’s ok not to tear up each time you see a little girl about her age.
It’s ok not to look at her picture each night.
It’s ok to smile.
It’s ok to hope.
It’s ok that the hole in your heart doesn’t feel so consuming.
It’s ok to breathe.
When Lilly died, I watched her mom and dad stand even when everything inside of them felt broken. I learned what it means to trust God in the times when you can’t see the point and don’t agree with the direction. I then watched them fight, work, stand, fall and get back up again for a year. On her birthday their faith helped me see that although IT doesn’t get easier, YOU get stronger. That’s a lot to learn from a little person who never took a breath this side of Heaven. But today, yet another year later, Lilly is still teaching me (all of us).
So often, we hurt and beg God to take away the pain. We yell at Him in frustration and curse Him for not protecting us. We ask Him to make it feel better, and over time, it hurts a little bit less. We wake up one day to realize what Bob did – that the farther away from the pain we get, the less it hurts. And strange as it is, we begin a new phase of sadness – one that anyone who’s ever felt a deep loss knows – the moment when it makes you sad that you aren’t as sad.
But it’s ok to be ok. It doesn’t mean you weren’t broken. It means you got put back together. It’s ok to be ok. It doesn’t mean you forget the pain. It doesn’t mean you weren’t permanently changed. It means God made you better. It means you stand a little taller because you know what it means to be knocked down. It’s ok to be ok. It means you kept going. It means you pressed on. It means you made it through another day. It’s ok to be ok. It means that Love lives. It never dies. It never fails. Love always – even in the darkest times – perseveres. So it’s ok to be ok.