I went to visit Peyton on Thanksgiving morning. I had to deliver a set of handprint turkeys to her from her brother and sister, and with the twins down for a nap, and Hubs home making mashed potatoes, it was a rare opportunity to get up and spend some quiet time with my girl.
Her hill is just as serene as it's always been. Just me, and Peyton, and the squirrels rustling through the leaves, and a very faint hush of traffic off in the distance, and sunlight working its way through gray clouds. It was, like my girl, pure beauty.
I sang Peyton the songs I always sing her. Smile, You Are My Sunshine, Smile Awhile. I even added the Mr. Turkey song that C, the daughter of our closest friends, taught me.
C was born just a few months before Peyton. It's hard to believe, watching C now, what Peyton would be doing if she were still with us. Singing songs about Mr. Turkey that she learned at preschool. Playing dress-up with her friends. I walk the line, between remembering Peyton as she was, and imagining her as she would now be. I suppose we all do, don't we?Mr. Turkey.
Big and fat.
Big and fat.
I'mma gonna eat you.
I'mma gonna eat you.
Just like that.
Just like that.
I filled Peyton in on all the happenings in our life. My mother's upcoming surgery. Our continued job search. Our plans with family for the day. I cleaned off her headstone, wiped the dust from her picture, gave her kisses and said the rosary, and then, as I always do, ended our visit by turning back to blow her a kiss and say:
"Thank you for all of the blessings you have brought into our lives."
I say this. And I mean it.
I am thankful.
I am thankful to Peyton for the little messages and signs; the way she pushes the boundaries of separate universes, planes, and times to bring me comfort in the knowledge that there is something bigger than me outside of this life.
I am thankful that because of her, I love more, and know how important it is to let those that I appreciate know just how much.
I am thankful for the community of strong, powerful women (and men) that she has introduced me to, whose grace, resilience, and compassion inspire me every day.
I am thankful for those who are earlier on in their journey, who reach out to me and afford me the opportunity to be a listening ear, to be able to say (and know and believe) "Things will get better. There is joy ahead for you." Because I have been where they are, and I have survived it.
I am thankful, even, for the hardships, and the lessons I have learned. That there is no point in living if you are not loving fully. There is no point in being human, without reaching out through bonds to your fellow man.
I am thankful for the depth that Peyton has instilled in my life. The way she has taught me how little "things" matter, and just how much people do.
I am thankful that in her short little life, she loved me despite my weaknesses. She let me show my emotion and my pain, and still cuddled up to my chest to reaffirm what I meant to her.
I am thankful to Peyton for inspiring me to start writing, and for teaching me that the time to write is now, not someday.
I am thankful to Peyton for the role she plays in keeping her father and I together, when statistically, child loss and infertility can easily rip apart even the strongest couple. And I am thankful for the hand that I know she played in bringing her siblings into this world, healthy and whole. Without Peyton, our twins wouldn't be here. Some people struggle with that, but I accept it now for what it is--a gift.
I am thankful for the way that a falling leaf now represents so much, the way that rays of sunlight through dark clouds feel like a hug, and a flickering of the lights is a special hello.
I am thankful in knowing that I owe the best, and closest, relationships of my life to Peyton. She showed me who to let in, who to let slip away, and most importantly to truly appreciate those who love her as much as I do.
I am thankful for the lesson that life is too short to spend being miserable or surrounded by the wrong people, even if it took me millions of tears to get to this realization, and the freedom that comes (when I let it) in realizing that most things are out of my control. Peyton's too-brief life, and the change she affected over the course of it, taught me that most hurdles in life can be overcome with the love of good friends, a smile, and a (sometimes twisted) sense of humor.
Mostly I am thankful that I have always felt her with me. From the depths of despair, to feeling the sunshine on my face, and everywhere in between. Love never dies, and some bonds can never be broken.
I am thankful for all the blessings that loving and losing Peyton has brought into my life...
How could I not be?