It has been almost three years since my Courtney went home to heaven. I was making dinner one evening last week and as my mind wandered I realized last week that I could no longer remember the sound of her laugh. It was startling to me.
I ran to my phone and pulled up video after video of my girl laughing and played them over and over again. That’s how Jerry found me when he got home from work that evening. Me sitting on the steps, crying, watching a video of Courtney laughing and dinner completely forgotten about.
He sat down next to me on the steps and put his arm around me. “Babe what’s up? What happened?” he asked as he gently took my phone from hand.
“I was making the salad and I thought of how much Courtney hated peas, which I was going to add to the salad. And I couldn’t remember the sound of her laugh Jerry. I could not remember it. It freaked me out and I just had to hear her laugh. How can I forget? I’m a horrible mother. Who forget’s the sound of their own child’s laughter? You know what that means, right? It means I am forgetting her. I can’t forget her Jer. I can’t.” I screeched at him hysterically. I was crying so hard I had the hiccups.
We sat there for a long time. Me crying and Jerry holding me assuring me that I could never forget our daughter and that it was all going to be OK. It took me a very long time to calm down. I felt so guilty that there was even a possibility that I would forget any detail about her. Add that to the weight of my grief and it was almost too much to bare in that moment.
Jerry slowly walked me through all the little things we loved about our girl. Describing her long fingers and her riotous curls, the way she snuggled into my chest and that her hair always smelled like granny smith apples. He reminded me how much she loved spaghetti and anything chocolate. Just like her Mama. He reminded me of how she hummed when she was happy, rocked back and forth as music played and how much she loved to hear her big brother read to her. We took a slow, meandering stroll down memory lane and it was exactly what my heart needed in that moment.
To remember means to be able to bring to one’s mind an awareness of someone that one has seen or known in the past. To remember someone is to keep their love alive. My love for my daughter runs deep within me and I was shaken to my core that day. Losing a child changes everything about you. It challenges every belief, everything you thought was right and true is decimated in the exhale of one single breath, when life ends here and begins in the eternal.
At the end of a Greek Orthodox funeral or memorial service the priest says “memory eternal”. It’s the Orthodox equivalent of the Roman Rite’s “eternal rest”. The prayer refers to remembrance by God, rather than by the living, and is another way of praying that the person’s soul has entered heaven and is enjoying eternal life. I love the expression because it reminds me that even if my memory fades, God’s does not.
As time passes, those fine details of my sweet daughter will become harder for me to recall. It’s a simple fact of life that I will have to accept. But the love exchanged between us will never fade because it still lives on.
Memory Eternal my sweet, sweet Courtney Elizabeth. Continue to intercede for your mama and daddy won’t you sweet girl. Until we are reunited again.
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