A Different Kind of Date Night

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn our house, Monday nights are date nights. We are blessed to have family nearby to babysit and we really try to prioritize spending some time just the two of us. Whether it’s going out to eat, going for a hike, shopping around town, or taking a picnic, we enjoy these special times together. I’m thankful for a husband who takes me out every week!

Last night was our scheduled date night, but it was a different kind of time together. After my last visit to the cemetery revealed that our shepherd’s hook and flower basket had been removed from Esther’s grave, Adam had called to find out why. He was told that it had to be a certain size, lots of them had been removed, and we were welcome to come dig through the pile and try to find ours.

So last night we set out. Driving to the cemetery, looking for the pile of removed flowers, and digging for the one that had been carefully set at our baby’s grave. Probably not how most couples spend their time together, but for us, it was important.

We were shocked to find such a large pile of things that had been removed. It was overwhelming. It was also frustrating. Frustrating that they had been carelessly removed, frustrating that there was no rhyme or reason for the sizes that were apparently “not allowed,” frustrating that we had never been informed of the regulations…but perhaps most frustrating that we had to be there. We shouldn’t be spending our date night at the cemetery. We should be going out for a fun night with our 2 month old in tow.

Adam and I bantered back and forth about how carelessly these decorations had all been removed. How unfeeling, unkind, and thoughtless it was. “Perhaps the people running this place have never lost someone close. They don’t know what it’s like” I angrily thought to myself.

Then I saw it. A little post it that said, “Kids Sec Esther Kate Waller.” I gasped and untangled the shepherd’s hook victoriously. It shocked me at how delighted I was just to see her name written out. My frustrated thoughts softened and I was thankful someone had taken the time to at least make labels. Someone had read her name. Someone had noted she was a baby. I don’t know why, but I was thankful for that. I guess because few people will ever know or acknowledge who she is or the immense value of her life. But I know.

We never did find the flowers, I suppose they were thrown away.

As we put the hook in the trunk, we drove down the familiar gravel road to her grave, and walked through the soft grass to the small stone where our second daughter was buried. Adam and I didn’t say many words, as there are few that have not already been spoken. We simply held each other and cried…Over our baby we would never know. Over the laughs and giggles we would never hear. Over the birthday candles that would never be blown out. And over the completeness of our family that we would never feel.

Not a typical date night, I know. But it was our date night, this is our new life, and she is our daughter. After awhile, we took a walk through the cemetery roads, just thinking, feeling, and being together in that place. We finally went back to our car and drove away, talking about what she would be doing right now if she was with us. At right about 2 months, she would be starting to grin and smile, maybe even giggle a little. She would be batting at toys and developing her personality. Her big sister Kyla would absolutely love playing with her and helping care for her. We also wondered: would she be huge and chubby like Kyla, or small and scrawny? We chuckled wondering if she would have had black baby hair or a different color? Would she have blowout diapers up to her neck everyday like her big sister did? By this time we were laughing. Then we imagined holding her and snuggling her tight. Carrying her with us everywhere we went.

What an incredible, beyond life, joy that would be. If just everything had gone as it should have.

We ended our date night with a late dinner before picking Kyla up, continuing to remember and talk about our 2nd baby girl throughout the night. She will always have her place in our family.

I am so thankful for my husband, and for the sweet time we had together to cry, remember, smile, and remind each other….that heaven is not far away.

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