It is a hard thing to do.
Often times, Ella is much better at it than the older people in her life (me).
But if you are traveling and staying in a hotel with a pool, arrive late that night, tired and starving, you throw on your swimsuits first thing. And you swim.
And laugh. And let the water spill over you in a way that it hasn't in months.
Then you wake up the next day, unpack your 'big girl pants' and gather with your family and an army of friends to give Marie the most glorious send-off. Marie had her hand in all of it and it showed. Ella was an absolute pro at the long service. And although I had my time with Marie before she died, I struggled - so much so that my sweet girl pulled out tissues from her own stash to hand to me because I had exhausted all of mine.
As always, there were silver linings. Like this: Ella and my cousins' kids. We live in three corners of the state and don't see each other enough. Period.
|Alyssa and Ella|
|Kaia and her shadow|
Without any doubt, it is this photo (thanks Larry) that melts me the most. Of all the things I can say about Marie and the hole her death has left, it can never be overshadowed by the fearless love Jesse has shown over the last nine years. He is my hero, always at the ready with this smile.
The following morning, we were back home and at one of our city's most incredible churches for our little friend Joseph's baptism*. We were honored to be included and it felt right to make sure we were home to celebrate the newness of his little life with God.
Before everything got underway, Ella, Panda and I snuck off to light a candle for Jesse, Kaia and Aaron as they adjust to their 'new normal'.
So we took it in, we were in the moment...and it worked.
*There are no photos of the actual baptism because I was using Mama Michelle's camera and taking photos for her. Go figure, right?