7:14 AM

It was late afternoon when I heard the news, but it took a few hours for it to really sink in. By the time Stephen arrived home from work I was sobbing. 

Lydia was playing outside while I made dinner, and in the middle of chopping up some onions I glanced over to the living room where I saw her stuffed monkey, Kiki, laying on a pillow, tucked neatly and particularly underneath one of her blankets. In that moment, the news hit me and it pushed me beyond the brink of misty-eyes and the big, heavy teardrops broke loose.

It was about that time that Stephen came in through the garage door and saw me standing in the kitchen, weeping. I could barely get out the words to explain.

Earlier that morning, one of our precious nursery girls, sweet little two-year-old Ivy, passed away in a sudden and heartbreaking accident while on a family vacation.

I got out the little information I had been told and erupted into heavy tears, again, as Stephen hugged me and processed the devastating news. 

I haven't had a lot of experiences with grief thus far in my life (for which I am truly grateful) but of the experiences I've had, none have pierced my heart quite so deeply as this one. Being a mother myself, with two children so close to Ivy's age, made this tragedy hit exceptionally close to home.

I glanced over at Kiki again and imagined coming home from a family vacation, without Lydia, walking in the house to see the particular way she had laid out her toys before we'd left. It made me shudder and an influx of tears tripped over each other and fell, overflowing from my eyes and pouring down my cheeks.

While I didn't know Ivy intimately, I did have the opportunity of spending a few hours with her each Sunday and observed many of her interactions with her peers. Just days before her passing from this earth life, I had held her in my lap and helped her jump to the tune of 'Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.' Although she didn't sing along, she communicated she knew the words by prepping for a jump each time the word "sunbeam" approached. I think she may have even let a few shy smiles escape while we sang.

Ivy was a quiet and mild-tempered little girl, and to say she had a sweet and nurturing spirit is an understatement. She loved carrying around various baby dolls and had a knack for sneaking Elliott's bottle out of the diaper bag and delivering it to him without me noticing😂. She loved to give hugs - and often persisted on giving them, totally oblivious to the notion that the recipient maaaay not have been particularly fond of the idea. (I can remember multiple occasions when Lydia ended up in tears because of Ivy's very persistent hugs after church 😂.)

Ivy's smile was one you really had to work for. On the occasion she flashed one in your direction, it was extra-special knowing they weren't easily come by. Her whole face lit up when she smiled, like a ray of sunshine. It was beautiful.

She was the youngest of 5 children, and after nursery was over and it was time to go home, I would often see Ivy's older siblings fighting over who got to retrieve her from the nursery room, their love for her easily apparent to all.

Although she didn't have much time here on the earth, the impact Ivy had on those she came in contact with was profound. 

My heart is still heavy and my eyes still sting from this tragic loss, but ironically I am filled with gratitude. There are a lot of things I don't know or understand, but there are some truths that I feel certain of, and I'm clinging on to them more tightly than ever right now.

Ivy will be missed, and I'm fully aware that the sorrow that I feel for her leaving so suddenly is only a small fraction compared to those in her immediate family. During her funeral services her mom expressed that the love they have felt in the time since the accident has been greater than the pain, "And the pain is so, so great" I imagined her to add. 

This experience has been a sacred reminder to me of just how precious life is, and how important it is to savor every moment I get to spend with those I love.

Ivy's middle name, Rae, has never been more true than now.
Jesus wanted Ivy for a sunbeam, and a sunbeam she is and always will be.

_ _ _

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