I never thought I’d go through what I’ve been through this past year.
And I don’t think any right minded person would wake up and pray to lose a child one day.
But what do you do when you DO lose a child? Do you celebrate their short life or do you simply let it go? Do you acknowledge that you were a parent or do you discredit yourself as one because you never got to hold your little one and maybe even because society now says that a fetus is nothing more but tissue… in other words, that thing that wasn’t fully developed couldn’t possibly be worthy of being human.
I tried convincing myself to believe all of these lies about the child that I lost due to an ectopic pregnancy.
I wanted to comfort my aching heart with the lie that I wasn’t ever really a mother and that even IF I was a mother, I sucked as one. I then tried comforting myself with other lies- she wasn’t fully developed so why mourn the loss? Why cry? Why feel anger? Why feel depressed? It’s JUST tissue! But none of these lies brought me a lick of comfort. I had to face the truth, mourn the loss, and stop blaming myself for something that was out of my control.
As time went by, the pain lessened. I still grieved (still do even now), but clinging to the promises of God that I’d see my baby girl again gave me peace and yes, even joy. The loss isn’t permanent, and I can praise God for that.
Still, I didn’t want to NOT do anything to honor my child’s short life. And if you were to get to know me personally you’d discover that I love going all out when it comes to special events/celebrations. After thinking it over for a bit, I decided that there was no other place I wanted to go to celebrate my baby’s short life than the RiSE Lantern Festival in Las Vegas.
If you’ve been following my blog posts from the beginning, you might remember the post I shared about my first time at the Lantern Festival where my then-boyfriend-now-husband proposed to me (Bright Lights & Floating Lanterns). I recommend you read that first and then go back to this one, or vise versa.
Obviously the reasons for going this time around were quite different. So much had happened in the last two years after our first visit to the lantern festival so it was safe to assume that this time around we’d have a bitter-sweet experience.
After making all the arrangements- purchasing of tickets, booking the hotel room, saving up money, booking my photographer friend for the special event- we were finally all set and ready to go.
Did I forget to mention that we were traveling to Vegas only a week after the Route 91 Festival shooting?
Summer flew by.
September came and went.
And October arrived.
My husband and I packed our bags, met up with our friends, and off we went…
As we got closer to Vegas, I felt my heart grow heavy.
The memories came pouring in.
Back in 2014, my husband and I had gone to Vegas for a full weekend. We’d traveled through most of the strip on foot, visited almost every big-named hotel, watched show after show, gone aboard the High Roller, paid a visit to the Mandalay Bay Aquarium, and danced under the lantern sky. The trip was unforgettable…
As those memories came flooding in, I noticed the change in the atmosphere. Yes, although I saw the tourists, the flashy lights, and the casinos still in business, I could still feel this sense of pain, despair, and loss in the air. It became more apparent when my friends, my husband, and I stopped by the memorial to pay our respects to the victims who’d lost their lives at the Route 91 Festival a week prior to our trip.
Then of course I recalled all the changes, disappointments, trauma, and pain I’d faced as well ever since after my last trip to Vegas. I took one look and my husband and remembered all the harsh realities we’d faced together. There was no denying that us being together in the car, traveling to Vegas, was nothing short of a miracle.
God had carried us through what some would describe as problems many couples face in the span of years & years of marriage.
After observing the memorial site, we went on our way to get ready for the festival.
One shower and a quick trip to In-N-Out for burgers and beverages… and we were finally on our way to the festival.
Not surprisingly, the place was packed. Not only did we have to fight through traffic on the road… we had to fight through a crowd of people as well.
The wait to get through the gate seemed to take forever. The walk to our designated area felt like an eternity. There was no such thing as personal space; we were bumping shoulder to shoulder with other festival attendees almost every minute.
The patience, if not frustration, we’d endured paid off in the end as we placed our mats down, relaxed, and began writing/drawing on our lanterns.
(Verses, tributes, love notes, and #JusticeForBradsWife… all written on our lanterns)
The sweet sound of Vancouver Sleep Clinic filled the atmosphere.
I couldn’t believe we’d actually made it.
It often seems like you wait years to do/expect something and when the moment finally arrives, it comes so quickly that you hope you will enjoy every moment of it.
This was my dilemma that night… I wanted to enjoy the moment, forget the frustrations, the worries, and the troubles that had been filling my mind for so long, and live in the moment right next to my husband and two friends.
When the moment to release the lanterns finally arrived, I stood up, feeling both excited and nervous.
Excited because I couldn’t wait to release something so special and dear to my heart and witness such a spectacular view. Nervous because anytime I release anything that has my daughter’s name attached to it, I feel like I’m letting her go all over again.
I knew I couldn’t hold onto my lantern forever… the purpose of having one is to release it, and if you don’t release it, you don’t see nor enjoy the beauty of a lantern up in the sky.
The countdown began and my lantern (all ready to go) was getting difficult to hold onto.
That sting that I never forgot… Ooooh how I felt it.
I felt that lump in my throat. I felt that ache and anxiety as soon as the lantern was out of my reach.
“There goes my baby…”
But boy… how BEAUTIFUL she looked when she joined the THOUSANDS of other lanterns up in the sky.
I wanted to cry of both grief and joy, but the sight before me was so magical that I stood in awe.
Yeah, I’d witnessed this before but it never lost its touch, its power, nor its beauty.
One by one, we released our lanterns. We gave each other turns to be photographed and recorded. We had our moments with one another and individually.
There were tears, smiles, and laughter.
How quickly had this moment arrived and how soon it was leaving us…
Finally, after witnessing the fireworks and enjoying as much as we could of the lantern sky, we packed up our mats and other belongings and started the long walk back to the car.
Later that night, as we rested from the long day of traveling and adventures, I replayed the whole scenario of the event in my head over and over again.
It was hard to sleep while thinking about everything I’d witnessed.
I wanted to live in that moment forever, but like all good and bad things in life… it had to come to an end.
I could only take the lessons (and the photographs and videos) I’d learned from the trip home with me.
One lesson I witnessed in action and have continued to remind myself of is this :: It takes a while to learn the beauty of letting go.
If I hadn’t let go of the bitterness, anger, and belief that I could have done something for my child, I wouldn’t have found comfort in the promises of God.
This lesson is not just one to be applied to one area of my life. I’m learning that in order to be at peace and treasure God’s promises, I must surrender the things which I want to hold onto, whether it be anger, resentment, unforgiveness, or dysfunctional thinking patterns.
The lessons I’ve continued learning from the loss of my child have continued to amaze me. She’s taught me much even though her life was so short.
For that, I am grateful.
Special Thanks to my lovely friend Bianca and her boyfriend Elias for all their help. You can check out more of her work on the links below!