Yesterday we celebrated Georgie's first birthday in heaven.
I really wanted to do something special for her birthday, just as if she were here. A lovely party.
At the beginning, I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. I prayed about it. I thought long and hard. I waffled, not sure what to do.
So I decided on a theme--a garden. Since Georgiana's name means "seed sower" and she was born on the first day of spring, I knew it was perfect.
From there, I used a lot of the themes I used in her nursery--birds, owls, butterflies and flowers. I bought things that made me happy, and began to plan around that. I decided not to include things that made me sad. That included a birthday cake. It also included having to say happy birthday to her in public, or sing to her. I just couldn't do it.
Dave and I settled on a mass and brunch for close friends and family.
Why mass? The only mass I had connected to her was her funeral. That of course did not sit well with me. I wanted something where we were not so...ripped apart and broken. I wanted something that Dave and I could plan, think of, and use as a way to lift people's hearts to Jesus. I wanted my daughter to influence us in the way she can now, in a holy way, in a way that gives people grace, peace and hope.
And really, the funeral is never the end. We as families go on on this earth without our children, but we hold the love for them in our hearts, and the hope to see them again. So why not another mass to celebrate my daughter's short and sweet little life?
So we planned our mass around that idea, as a celebration, as an opportunity to praise God and be uplifted, as bringing beauty from the ashes, so to speak.
We chose three readings and a psalm.
Dave read the first reading, Isaiah 25:6, 7-9. It is a beautiful reading about God preparing a feast for his people, lifting the shroud that covers us, swallowing up death forever and wiping the tears from our faces. What a powerful image. I wait for the day.
The psalm was psalm 145, when David praises his King. In the Catholic church, we sing psalms, and this one has always been one of my favorites. We had a beautiful soprano sing for the entire mass, and it sounded like the voice of an angel.
The second reading is from 2 Corinthians 4:1-18. I read this one. If I had thought it through a little better, I probably would have had Dave read this one. This is one of my favorite passages of scripture, and really puts death and life, and faith in the proper context. However, about halfway through the reading, I began to choke up. I'm not even sure why, but I wasn't sure if I would finish. I did, and was able to go back to my seat to have a two-minute ugly cry.
The gospel was from Luke 1:39-45, what is commonly called the Visitation. I always loved this gospel story, long before I lost my little one or was ever pregnant. In this story, when Mary comes to visit Elizabeth, the baby (later the apostle) John leaps in Elizabeth's womb at the coming of His Lord. What an incredible insight into our babies in the womb, that they know God even then! I believe this, and am sure when Georgie saw her Savior, she already knew Him. It just warms my heart.
We chose the following songs:
I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light
Taste and See
Be Not Afraid
The songs were perfect. When we were singing the first song, all I could think of was my child surrounded in heavenly light. What a comfort to my heart and soul it was, as I look back on this dark and cold year and think how much Dave and I have suffered. This morning was a bright spot, and a beautiful way to celebrate our daughter, her importance, the gift she was to us.
The flowers were beautiful. My parents gave them to us for the service, pink and green like her nursery. They also ordered a beautiful little bouquet for her picture that I have sitting in water to take to her for her birthday on Wednesday.
Our priest, Father Rick, gave a beautiful homily about Georgiana celebrating her first year in heaven, with Jesus, with the saints, and celebrating St. Patrick's day with St. Patrick himself! It made me smile. He talked about how losing a child is the worst suffering we can endure, and that we don't understand God's plan, but that today we were celebrating our child as already in heaven, and that we will all see her, and God in all His glory, someday.
My youngest brother, Clay, served the mass. One of his best friends, Matt, and his older brother Cody, served with him. It was only fitting. Clay helped carry her casket nearly a year ago. Cody helped Father Rick graveside after her funeral. Things felt just...right....that morning, unlike the deep wrong of nearly a year ago.
Of course, all this is to say that it's not as if Dave and I don't hurt everyday for our baby, and often hurt so bad it feels like breathing is hard. I am sure I will feel that many times this week. I still don't know what to do on March 20. I certainly can't "celebrate" it, as it's the day my daughter died. I am still struggling with it, but I think the answer will come to me. If not, I'll just sob my way through it. I've done it for a year. I can do it another few days, or years, as it is.
I'll talk more about Part II later, the brunch we had at our house.
Suffice to say the mass really was lovely. I looked out over the small group assembled for her mass, and I saw people wearing green, pink, orange, and I thought, wow, very little black. It was lovely to see. Sad, but lovely. Not so...wrenching as a year ago. My mother even had on bright yellow heels. They were great. Spring-y, and happy. I smiled. I cried. But I smiled.
Here are a few pictures:
My beautiful girl. I love this picture of her. It really makes me think of heaven. See the little bouquet? So pretty.
My brother is on the right, though they really look they could all be brothers.
The beautiful program cover, kind of designed by me, really perfected by my friend Annie (same artistic angel who did her announcement, and her invitation up above).
Part II coming soon...