I am sure that many of you noticed that I did not post an update on Valentine’s Day...I did post a small tribute to Grace on Facebook, but found myself unable to come up with anything different to say on Valentine’s Day this year. Although it has now been four years since that day we felt her breathe for the last time, there are many feelings that have not changed. We still miss her desperately, still love her deeply and still wish she were here with us. There are many instances that we find ourselves longing for Grace, wanting to be able to share that moment, that experience with her. There are many times that her name is on the tip of our tongue, forefront in our minds. Those moments are ones when we just want to call her name and have her smiling face appear...
One of those moments was when we recently boarded a plane destined for Disney World. It would not only be the first time we traveled to Disney since the wish trip in 2007, but the first trip for Claire. We were lucky to be traveling with both my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. The entire family was off to experience the “magic” that Disney had to offer. In addition, the trip was taking place over Valentine’s Day. It was the first time that we had chosen to go away on such a momentous day. Our aim was not to run from the memories, but to celebrate and honor the beautiful life of Grace. We did have second thoughts and much trepidation about traveling over this time, but, like so many instances before, we took a deep breath and forged ahead. Our wish this time was to be together in a place that Grace enjoyed so much on a day that remains so hard for us all.
The trip went well. We enjoyed time together and allowed ourselves to have fun. On Valentine’s Day, our friend Celeste arranged a fireworks pontoon boat cruise on the bay around Magic Kingdom for us. It was a peaceful way to spend the evening, watching the fireworks and imagining that Grace was also seeing them from heaven. As the week went on, we remembered rides she enjoyed, princesses she loved to meet and things she relished when she was there.
It was not until the last night, however, that we experienced the reflection of Grace that we had longed for all week.
We knew all that we wanted to get Claire her own Mickey Mouse ears like Colin, Garrett and Grace had gotten. We had not purchased them yet, and it was now our last night of the trip. Although we had had a long day in Epcot, we persuaded Colin and Garrett to go back to Magic Kingdom with us, despite Garrett’s reluctance. It was late and crowded when the five of us arrived in Magic Kingdom. The parade was about to begin and there were what seemed to be a million people on Main Street. As I began pushing the stroller towards the gift store behind the castle, the boys told me to go to the hat store right at the front of Main Street. I turned Claire around and we fought the crowd to get to the store to make our purchase. Actually, once inside, there was no one else buying a hat or ears at that time. We were the only ones in the store. We chose pink ears with the classic embroidery for Claire. The ears were handed to the embroiderer and I pushed Claire to the far side of the store to wait for them to be finished. It was then that I noticed a shelf behind the counter where the completed ears were placed until they were picked up by their owners. I could not believe what I saw. On that shelf, at that very moment, there was a pair of light pink ears with a satin pink bow. Embroidered on those ears was the name Grace. My heart stopped… Brian and the boys noticed them just about the time I did. We were overcome with emotion…of all the names, of all the types of ears that one could buy; there was a pink pair with Grace… I handed the cashier Claire’s ears and asked her to set them beside the ones that said Grace so I could take a picture. Just then I heard Colin say, “Mom, look at the rainbow ears on the shelf above with Sophie’s name on them!” Incredible. Amazing. (If you do not know Sophie’s story, please read about this special little girl at www.smilesforsophieforever.org) The tears began to stream down my face as I told the cast members in the store our story and Sophie’s as well...we left the store still crying, not quite able to fully comprehend the breadth of this reflection. It was like she was saying, “I am right here with you, you are not alone! We are right here…we are with you wherever you go…”
So, when we least expect it, Grace reminds us that she is with us. We are not alone. How blessed we are to have experienced such a child, such a wonderful reflection!
“For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me…in the power of signs and wonders…” Romans 15:18, 19
Join us as our journey continues… There are only two days left to register under the early bird prices for the 5th Annual Race For Grace. Visit http://www.reflectionsofgrace.org/index.php/5th-annual-race-for-grace.html for information and to register. If you are unable to attend, please use the same link to make a donation. Our mission remains…we will not leave the children and families of pediatric brain cancer alone!!!