by Connie Iddings

As I struggled alone with my grief I prayed that God would somehow help me find a way to get through this sorrow and to be able to find the strength I’d need for my four month old, granddaughter Kylie’s upcoming memorial.

The thought instantly came to me, “Think on what you have received instead of on your loss.” I have not experienced such clarity and directness of thought since Kylie passed so I took instant notice of the importance of this message. I asked myself, “What have I received?”

The first thing that came to my mind was of all the people who have been here for my family and I. There have been so many well wishes, hugs, tears, condolences, and prayers offered for our behalf. These expressions of love and concern have provided a tremendous amount of strength and comfort in our time of greatest need. I could never begin to adequately convey how much this has meant.

Kylie came to my mind next, although she is never far from my heart and thoughts. I realized that this will be her memorial, her life remembrance, her life celebration. I don’t want to focus on her absence. I don’t want to concentrate on her last days and her death. When I think of Kylie, I think of JOY and this is how I want to always remember her.

Fluent in the language of joy

I have to admit that I had a momentary setback at this point. I said aloud and directed towards the heavens, “Kylie gave me back my joy and now it’s gone again.” My statement went as far as the ceiling and fell back down at my feet with a heavy thud. Heaven wouldn’t receive it. It wasn’t a fair statement. That was a tremendous burden to put on someone so small. It wasn’t her responsibility. The truth was that joy was simply the only language that Kylie knew. She couldn’t speak, but she was fluent in the language of joy. If I wanted to have a close, intimate relationship with my granddaughter I had to connect with her at her level, in a way that she was able to respond to.

She didn’t give me back my joy. She simply spoke to it and truth be told, now that I think about it, it wasn’t I who connected with her in a way she was able to respond to, it was the other way around. She had reached out to a wounded heart in such an innocent and pure way that I instantly and instinctively knew it was safe to open up my heart again.

I already had joy. I didn’t receive that from Kylie. What I have received from Kylie is a new understanding of what joy truly is. Kylie wasn’t very old, but she was old enough to respond to life, to people and she did both with an openness and willingness that I want to replicate. When you were with Kylie, she was with you 100%. Her big blue eyes focused only on you. She intently listened, and responded with a smile. Recently, she would also respond with her newly acquired baby jabber. I didn’t understand what she said, but she had a lot to say and I am quite sure it contained the wisdom of the ages.

With awe and wonder

Kylie viewed the world with awe and wonder. She reached out to grasp everything in front of her. She stared wide eyed and took in anything new. Even if she was a little frightened of something at first, she didn’t let it keep her from exploring that new thing for very long. Some of her favorite activities and things were at first the very same ones that she initially wanted to avoid. Her curiosity and thirst for life were no match for any fears and uncertainties she momentarily felt.

Kylie didn’t always appear joyful. Sometimes she fussed and cried when a need of hers wasn’t being met as quickly as she would like, but the moment she was picked up or given her bottle or toy you were forgiven, her smile was assurance that all was well. She lived joyfully in the moment and each moment was glorious!

I choose to remember Kylie this way and to make my life a memorial to this memory. With God’s help I want to embrace life and others as openly and willingly as she did. I want to respond to people in a positive way, to make people feel safe enough that even in their woundedness they desire to risk responding and expressing their joy again. I want to view the world in awe and wonderment. I want to strive to never shy away from any new challenge, at least not for very long. I want to quickly forgive people for intended or unintended slights and to recognize when I am just being impatient. I want to live in the moment and not sulk in the past. I know I will not be perfect in these things and I’ll have days when I am cranky and seemingly inconsolable. But I will not remain with head bowed down in that state for long. I vow to look up and reward life with a smile and a firm belief that all is well. Joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Thank you Kylie. Grandma loves and misses you sweetie.