As I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight, I could hear Luke repeating over and over “Dat my An-belle. Dat my An-belle….” It was like sweet background music for a few minutes until I finally made it out of the kitchen and onto the sofa with him to figure out what he was really talking about.
On his own, he had pulled out one of Annabelle’s photo albums. He was going through each picture one by one and referring to her as “my An-belle” (in typical 3 year old fashion). I sat patiently watching him point to each and every photo of his big sister with his little chubby finger…slowly and deliberately…not to skip over a single one. He occasionally mentioned that “Dat Bubba” or “Dat you Mommy” or “Dat my Daddy”. But, the center of his attention was on the sibling of his that he’s never known this side of Heaven. He just sat there soaking her in and much as he could.
And then he came to the empty pages.
Not the end of the photo album.
The empty pages.
Pages that will never be filled with photos of her. Pages that will always remain empty with clear plastic sleeves never used. Pages with pale pink backgrounds and soft white flowers embossed on them. Empty.
My heart sank as I sat there and saw that in just a few minutes my precious boy was able to cover his big sister’s life from the first photos of her birth through pictures taken only two days before Jesus took her Home.
My heart screamed how wrong and unfair this is. How awesomely painful it is to have empty pages in your own child’s album.
I then took the album and went through it myself. After all, it had been a while since I thumbed through those photos. I noticed a few bows that I loved so much picking out for her in the weeks before her birth and had forgotten about over the years. The big bow that my husband always thought was far too big for her little dollbaby of a face, the one with the princess tiara on it that I just had to have, the pale green that her Daddy loved her in, and then the 70 different shades of pink…memory lane felt good. I noticed a few gowns and outfits that she had on. One that I had just purchased days after her birth from The Charleston Child. A white Pixie Lily gown with the sweetest little hem. She was so beautiful in it. I wanted to take her out and show her off to the world. Instead, she was wearing boutique clothing in an ICU.
The harsh reality of her life still leaves me breathless. The fight she fought. The battles she faced. And, ultimately, the war she won.
I believe with every ounce of life that I have in me that she left this fallen world a victor. Many may say that she lost her battle. Not for a second can I believe that as a Child of God.
She won bigger than any of us will ever know…until Heaven.
The pages will always be empty. And, I’ll always hate it. But, at least I have Blessed Hope. And, when I am faced with those empty pages once again whether I’m thumbing through her photo album or watching other little girls her age start dance class…I’ll cling to it ever stronger.
“This is our blessed hope: that we are His and will someday spend eternity with Him. Until then, we are strangers and foreigners, left with the scars, and the limps, and all the other subtle reminders of that sweet truth: we are not yet home.” Laura Story