Today, August 24, 2011 is the 20th anniversary of my twins birth and death. David and Ruth. They were our firstborns. I've been thinking for a while now that I wanted to somehow mark this day, to set it aside as special and remember them. I haven't been able to think of anything. My dream would have been to be at Wrightsville Beach on the dock where we held their memorial service. I would have sat and watched the water, smelled the salt air, listened to the birds and remembered the words our pastor spoke as he talked about heaven being closer, now that a part of us was already there. Steve and I held each other and wept as we thought about David and Ruth. It was only the beginning of a long and painful grief.
The grief has had a way, like the ocean, of ebbing and flowing. There are days where I felt I would drown under the weight of it, like a huge wave crashing over you and spinning you over and over under the water. You come up gasping for breath and feeling like you've just wrestled with the wave and lost. Your nostrils burn from the salt, your bathing suit is twisted and in places it shouldn't be. You're left to take the "walk of shame" out of the ocean, praying no one saw you get completely thrashed by water. Then, gracefully the days come where the grief recedes like the tide going out. You can safely play on the shore with no fear of losing your balance. The best days though have been the days when the pain is all around me, lapping at my feet. I've stood at the edge of the grief and just let it slowly rise as I take baby steps deeper and deeper, slowly feeling it engulf my body. In the distance I can see mercy and grace so I walk towards it. I've always loved sandbars at the ocean. They seem so magical to me. You go into the water and before you know it you're swimming because you can't touch the ocean floor, then you can! I love that. Those are the good days. The days when the grief is real but somehow, magically, like a sandbar you're standing on the waves.
Today, as I put the cake in the oven I thought about how I never made a birthday cake for David and Ruth. I thought about how today has been a day of slowly being engulfed by the grief and honestly not seeing the sandbar, not yet anyway. I miss them. I miss who they would have been and I miss celebrating them.
From where I'm sitting at my computer I can see our dining room table. I can see the chairs around it, ready for our family to fill them. Perhaps this is my sandbar today, my moment of grace and mercy? I think it is. I think this is the best way to remember them today, to sit with my family, their family around a meal and celebrate the new.
Happy Birthday David and Ruth.