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Back to School for the Child Loss Parent

It’s mid-August in Nebraska which marks another school year starting. To some it’s the thrill of having their kids gone all day so they can get things done at home. To others it’s the stress of wondering if their child is making friends, behaving, and understanding the material; however, to the bereaved parent it marks another anniversary of not having a First Day of School picture. I see you. I hear you. I feel it too.

I think about another school year starting, specifically 3rd grade. I walk through Target seeing all of the school supplies, the Back to School display with shiny backpacks, thermoses and lunch boxes. There’s so many choices, a lot more than I had to choose from when I was starting 3rd grade. It’s almost too many choices. From animals, sparkles, super heroes, sports teams, Disney characters, and plain ones; I look at them all, wondering…. Would Macie have wanted everything princess like her little sister or would she be a “tom boy” wanting everything Cornhuskers like her daddy? We live in Nebraska and everything is Go Big Red in our house.

Then I stroll over to the supplies, there was always something about a freshly sharpened pencil and the smell of the paper of a new notebook that excited me when I was little. The brand new markers that are so new the caps are still hard to take off! I’ve always had a passion for learning and a love for “school” supplies and at 35 this hasn’t changed. I’m still a book nerd. I wonder if she would have had my love of learning. If she’d be excited to pick out supplies. If she’d have a preference for a freshly sharpened pencil or mechanic pencil? Things that seem so simple to parents. Things that most parents may even rush through. It’s okay.

I wonder who her teacher would be. What school she’d attend? Would we have moved back from Lees Summit if she hadn’t passed away? The truth is, as much as I love being back home in Nebraska, I simply do not know. I wonder who her friends would be and what’d they’d be like? Would she be into wearing dresses or athletic shorts? Would the first day of school be as monumental to her as it was to me? Would she have to try everything on to make sure she had just the right outfit for the first day? Would she let me walk her in on her first day or tell me good-bye from the sidewalk while she ran independently inside to her class?

I want to hug my 3rd grader and to hear all about her day. To see if she liked her teacher. To ask the daily question “what was the best part of your day today, Macie?” and “what was the worst part of your day, Macie?” If Maxene learns one thing from me, I hope it’s to find the good in people, in every situation, in all of life and everything in general. You may have to really look to find the good, but it’s always there just below the surface, waiting…. I digress, we’re talking about my other daughter Macie.

I’m always going to wonder because Macie died. The day she died part of me died as well. A part of me that hasn’t come back to life just yet and probably never will; there is forever this tiny little void that is empty in my heart, for that is the spot where Macie’s love lived; the very essence of me that was all hers…. and it is forever gone now. The day she died all of my hopes for her died. My dreams for her. My plans for her, plans that she probably would have changed because, let’s face, it she’s my kid.

With all of this said, here is what the take away is: Enjoy the small things because when you look back they truly will be the BIG things. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life it’s okay to take that extra minute to enjoy the moment. Cherish it! Give that extra hug or kiss, give two or three! Take the picture, take a hundred of them! Capture that moment, remember it, love it and share it!

There will be a graduation day in 2029 and there will be one missing. And, on that day, please say a quick prayer of comfort for us as well.

All my love,

Forever Macie’s Mama.

Should be 3rd grader.

Forever 3 months and 19 days.

Class of 2029.

Lisa Barton

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Comments (4)

  • Lisa, That was written SO beautifully. The tears just rolled down my face when I read it. My heart just aches for you and your whole family. She left a lot of holes in hearts when she passed. . Holes that will probably never be filled. May God surround you always with His love, peace and comfort as you continue on without her.
    Love all of you,
    Betty

  • This is my world. School started Aug 7th and my HS Junior wasn’t there next to his 8th grade sister because he went to Jesus in April. And, you’re right, it’s not just the first day, it’s buying supplies, shoes, supplies and school pictures.

  • Beautifully written!

    I see those things in both directions; for my infant daughter, Kami Leigh, each year wondering the same things you did as each school year approached. As I watched my oldest son, Tad, graduate college this summer I also thought about what it would be like seeing Kami Leigh and also my youngest son, Bryan, to have graduated college as well; but that is not to be!

    Then for my youngest son, Bryan, I also thought back to those days of getting ready for school to start; how everything had in to be blue, while Tad wanted his in red. His ninja turtle lunchbox and backpack that he was so attached to. How he was the class entertainer and hated to see anyone sad. How he had developed his marketing skills at a young age; using his allowance to buy individual wrapped candies and small toys and hauled them to school and resold them to his classmates.

    It amazes me sometimes how so many things that other parents take for granted as routine, can trigger so many wonderful memories for me, and yet, so much pain…all in the blink of an eye!

    Losing my children has definitely opened my eyes to the importance of cherishing each moment with everyone you care about! You never know when that moment may be yours or their last on this earth!

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