I can't let today go by without talking about her. I've been debated posting this, for several reasons, but I find there's a bit of relief that comes with exposing hidden words and feelings.
I don't want today to define her. I think that one of the saddest parts about death is that ultimately that person is defined by the day they left us. There's no doubt that July 16, 2010 was one of the most traumatic days of my life. Who expects a seemingly healthy 9 year old girl to be diagnosed with leukemia and pass away less than 10 months later? Lauren's illness affected everyone. Nobody really knew what to do, so we all did the best we could. Looking back, those months were a blur of sadness, anger, frustration, relief, happiness, and guilt. And after Lauren's death, all the negative feelings were intensified to the highest degree. There were days I seriously questioned my faith and if my marriage (that had just begun) would remain intact.
Those feelings still remain and resurface from time to time but they don't hurt as much. Her artwork and picture remain in my office and don't bring the unbearable tears they used to but instead give little flickers of joy. I found that in the middle of the the worst days over the last three years, my faith grew and my marriage was strengthened. The less I doubted and questioned God, the more more peace I had. And the more peace I had, the easier it was to see God's plan taking shape. I'm still in awe that amazingly wonderful things can emerge out of something so awful. Is it really a coincidence that Emily was born 2 years and 4 days after Lauren's death?
Today does not and will never define my niece, Lauren. She will forever be the little girl that I loved playing Barbies with and swimming with in her pool. She is still the little girl I was just getting to know as I was becoming part of a new family. Although my time as Aunt Megan was way too short, the memories we made and the things she taught me will stay with me forever. Her life moves me to appreciate every day I have with those I love, to show compassion to all I meet (not knowing what they are going through or loss they have suffered), to serve others, to love and trust God, and to give endless hugs to and thanks for my own little girl. And one day, sweet Lauren, we'll play together again in heaven.