Tonight was one of those really tough nights.
Good was mixed with bad, heartache was mixed with joy...
The Compassionate Friends, an international grief support group for parents, siblings, and grandparents, held their candle lighting ceremony tonight. At 7pm, in every time zone, all across the world, people lit (or are lighting) candles, as groups or individuals, to honor the lives of the deceased. It's a very powerful and touching ceremony.
My husband and I participated as helpers in the ceremony. We greeted every person who came in, we passed out ornaments that were shaped like doves and stated 'love', 'joy', or 'peace' on the body, we lit the ceremonial candles with another couple, and we joined all of the participants as each of us lit an individual candle for the child/sibling/grandchild we miss.
It was so touching to be a part of something so important, and yet, it was hard. It was hard to hear the music choices, one of which was 'From a Distance' (my friends from grade school could attest to the fact that song has made me cry since I was in 5th grade and my grandpa died). It was hard to see so many people gathered to remember so many children. It was hard to watch the PowerPoint presentation of so many faces and names. It was hard to listen to the song that was played as we lit candles to remember our babies/siblings/grand-babies.
As I watched the faces streaming across the presentation, I was sad to recognize names of children I have heard so many times in The Compassionate Friends meetings I attend nearly every month, yet it was sort of nice to see the faces of some of Catelyn's angel friends. Catelyn's name approached, and I felt myself growing anxious, almost as though her picture couldn't pop up fast enough, and when her beaming smile crossed the screen, I felt like it should've been up far longer.
It's so hard to only be able to see her face in pictures or video, and even if I look all day, it's never long enough. Oh, don't get me wrong, we have ~2500 pictures and a decent handful of videos of that little girl (yeah....she was only 20 months old), and I am SO grateful for each and every one of them....
But what I wouldn't give to be able to hold her again....to smell her hair....to run my fingers through her hair...to kiss her goodnight.....to hear her laugh and tell me things.
At the end of this month, we will reach Catelyn's 3rd birthday. Three-year-old's are wicked-smart, highly observant, and they have no 'filter' of what they should and shouldn't say....I can't even imagine the things she would know or say or do....
At 20 months, she was so wise already. She knew that when it was time to leave, we'd give everyone a hug; she knew that she had to put on her hat & shoes before we'd go anywhere; she knew that she had to say 'please' if she wanted something - which was usually 'up', and she'd say 'uppies' to request it; she knew how to put on her shoes....and everyone else's!; she knew how to dance, sing, sign, & speak German & English; she knew she ought to pet the kitty 'nice' ly, though she hadn't quite mastered how to lay her hand on him gently (and he didn't seem to care); she knew she was supposed to go to the pool & play on daycare days during the summer, and she knew what it meant when mama or daddy appeared and weren't in swim clothes....and so much more.
It seems I've become side-tracked from what I was trying to say. I was a part of something vastly important to so many people tonight, and it was nice to be able to let my heart ache in the company of so many others, though it was so sad to see so many people tonight, too.
I'm grateful for The Compassionate Friends, and having so much support from people who understand all too well what it's like to endure the death of a child/grandchild/sibling. Even though many of us may have had mixed emotions tonight, it was still a good experience overall. It's nice to have a designated day when all of our loved ones are honored, and candles are pretty much lit for 24 hours straight....our hearts ache, but it's heartwarming.