Yesterday was Zuri’s first birthday in heaven. This is a safe place, so I’ll just be super honest- it was a really hard day. The emotions are still raw, and I’m still processing everything.

The night before I barely slept. I couldn’t stop reliving the day that she was born. I couldn’t stop thinking about how strange it is that a year has gone by; a year has gone by, but now I have to figure out how to make it through another year. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I miss her, and how much I so desperately want to hold her again.

We had arranged with our parents and siblings to meet at Zuri’s grave site in the morning. The night before I had picked up some flowers, along with a few balloons so we could release them for Zuri. When we got up, the balloons were almost completely deflated. We left a little late, and emotions were running high; Derek and I were short with each other. Needless to say the day got off to a rocky start, but we agreed that we didn’t want to spend the day fighting.

I cried almost the entire drive to the cemetery. When we got there, I couldn’t go over to Zuri’s grave. Everyone else was there remembering her together, and I couldn’t do it. Even my little sister who had decided to stay home last year on the day of Zuri’s memorial service because it was too painful (she’s 13, by the way), was able to find it in herself to come and remember her niece. I was overcome with emotions and I just couldn’t make myself go. Instead, I sat in the car and wept.

The sum of it all is that I was just overcome with sadness. I didn’t need a beautiful grave marker or flowers to remind me of my child’s life; I live everyday remembering her and wishing she was here, and I was just incredibly sad that she’s not here.

Thankfully, my family is understanding and compassionate; they showed me so much love and let me handle things they way I felt I could.

Eventually, after everyone else had left, I was able to pull it together long enough to go over by myself and see the gravestone. It was hard, so I only stayed for a moment.

Derek and Toby and I spent most of the day running errands. I think we kind of wanted to burn some time so we wouldn’t just sit around at home wallowing in difficult emotions. When we finally came home we spent the rest of the day resting, which was good because we all felt drained.

This journey is far from over. Even after making it to the one year milestone, I can still feel how far I have to go. The emotions of everything sit just below the surface. The task of figuring out how to keep moving is still present. All I can do is keep walking, hoping to make my daughter proud.

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