My Dearest Little Samantha-
It's now been 1 year since you returned to your Father in Heaven. I still find myself not believing that you really are gone. You just moved out with your mom and dad. That's where you are. You are still here...I just haven't seen you in a while. And then I finally allow myself to face reality. You are gone. No longer running around my house, stealing toys from my kids, and getting right back up after being pushed down by your "littermates." I continue to see your face in every corner of my house. At the bottom of the stairs trying to find a way through the baby gate, reaching as high as you could to push on the piano keys, emptying my sippy cup drawer...every. single. day. How I miss seeing your cute little feet running in my house.
It's hard to not think about you all the time. I sometimes become consumed by all of the "what if's..." I picture what life would be like if you were still here running around my backyard, going down the slide, and riding in the cozy coupe car. I try not to, but I can't help it. Your short 18 months with us means too much to be able to not think about how life would be if you were still here. You've had too much of an impact on us. On me.
Brooklyn's prayer last night included "...and bless Sammie that she will come back to us really soon." The kids always pray for you. Always. It breaks my heart that they are too young to understand that you can't come back right now. Little Brynlee is always saying that she misses you. They feel the void you left. Even though they don't completely understand, they know that you are in heaven with Jesus (and the Carebears, apparently.) They still remember watching the Doodlebops with you. Brielle wears some of your clothes and shoes now. I like to be reminded of you, especially through the kids. They miss you.
The little brother you sent down here looks just like you. Every time I see him I am blown away by how much he looks like his older sister. He is growing fast. He doesn't know it yet, but he misses you too.
Your mom and dad still struggle. I think of the hardest day I've had and try to imagine it being 100 times harder than that...and that doesn't even begin to describe how hard it's been for them. While I see you in every corner of my house, they see you in every fiber of their being. Every second of every day. I can't imagine what this day is like for them. Your mom told me it seems like it was only weeks ago and yet, forever ago. Having to watch your mom and dad go through this pains me deeply. I don't know how they make it from one day to the next. They are strong. Stronger than they ever realized, and they keep getting stronger. I am strengthened by being around them. You chose great parents to come to, even if it was for such a short time. They needed you in their lives. Every day you were here they gained strength from you. They love you. They miss you.
It amazes me how much you were able to do in your short 18 months here. How many lives you've affected. How many people you have touched. In my saddest moments I find myself asking you why you had to leave us. For now, there isn't an answer that I understand enough to fully accept. I know it was supposed to happen...all of the Tender Mercies we saw during your 18 months and since then are a testament to us that it was the plan for you. I know that. But I struggle to accept it because that doesn't seem fair. We should have been able to have you longer than that. One day I hope that I am humble enough to understand. Then maybe I will be able to accept the fact that you are gone. But for now it's too hard still. Because, you see, it didn't happen. You just moved out with your mom and dad. That's where you are. Because we miss you. I miss you. Every moment of every day.
I saw a butterfly outside the kitchen window on your birthday. It reminded me that you really are an angel. An angel that loved me enough to send me a reminder of your love. I followed the butterfly around the backyard to the side of the house where I dropped to my knees and cried. It stayed until I was ready to stand back up. And when I got up I watched you fly away to continue sending love to so many that love you. Thank you for taking time to visit me. I needed it. Your mom and dad need it. We all need it.
Today it's been 1 year. One year since our lives were changed forever. One year since learning what a breaking heart really feels like. One year since learning the strength it takes to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving, when all you want to do is stay still. You taught me a lot while you were here, and you've taught me more since you've been gone. You are strong, so I must try to be strong. You are humble, so I must try to be humble. You are an angel. An angel we had for 18 months, and heaven will have forever. And until I get to hold you in my arms again, I will try to be strong just like you taught me. I will love deeper, for it is because of you that I now know how to love. I miss you Sammie. I love you Sammie.
In the months since losing our darling girl, the butterflies that decorated her nursery have become a connection to our little angel and a symbol of love and hope. Our family now leans on an Indian legend that believes butterflies can carry a wish to the Great Spirit. Butterflies carry our love and wishes to Sammie, and when we see their wings around us we know Sammie has sent them back returning her love for us.
Our tree represents the promise that when you “Wish Upon a Butterfly” today, it will bring you love from heaven tomorrow.