Friday, October 24, 2008

She walks with me

We did something special today. We did something that will remind us every single day for the rest of our lives that Natalie was here. It will be with us no matter where we go, what we do, no matter our age, no matter our situation. We have been talking about this for months. I was pregnant and not able to do this yet though. But now I can. Bryan can. We will share the bond of our girl and our memory forever. Today, we each had Natalie’s footprint tattooed onto us. With every step we take, she will take the same step. For me, her footprint is on top of my foot. She walks with me. I love that. For Bryan, it is on the side of his leg. She is there with him as well. And Bryan and I share her footprint between us. The same print on the same side of the body. She will walk with each of us every day we are on this earth, and when we are no longer here we will be with her in Heaven. I am so happy I did this. I am still in shock thought. In fact, as the artist began it, my words were, “My dad is gonna kill me!” Bryan laughed, the tatoo guy looked at me a bit strangely but we kept going. I keep looking at my foot, thinking, “Did I really do that? I can’t believe it.”

After it was done, we went by my old office. Can I just say that I worked with an AMAZING group of people? To this day, I do not feel like an outsider there. I walk in and am greeted by my friends. I am asked when I am coming back or if I miss working there. It still feels like I just took a few days off. And yet, it has been a whole year since I called Krissy to tell her that I would not be in because Natalie fell in the pool and I did not know what was happening. I could hear the fear in her voice that day. I knew that they were all praying for me, supporting me, hoping with me. Many came by the hospital. They brought by gifts, food, cards, and hugs. They are another branch in my family tree. It was wonderful to see them today, talk and share my girls with them.

We ran a few more errands today, visited a few friends, and ate yummy Mexican food for dinner. Now we are home, remembering and having a pretty good night. Tears still fill my eyes constantly. My thoughts are constantly on my girls, my Natalie, how my life has changed and where we are now.

It has really been a pretty good day, all things considered. I have done all I wanted to. Here are a few photos from today and the last few weeks that I am loving tonight (just downloaded my camera!). Please keep us in your prayers over the next week. It will be hard. It will be full of tears, sorrow, joy, wonder, and time with my Lord. We need each of you, no matter how we met. You help us get through each day. And we thank you.

* * * * * * * * * *

One year ago today, I was in Iraq thinking everything was fine. I had not talked to Hillary in a day or so, but I was getting ready to call later on that night. For me, it was early in the morning on the 25th. I was sitting there with every body talking about things like we always did. Hayli was talking to Jason and things just didn’t seem right about it. She talked to him longer than usual and didn’t tell me about the conversation. This was unusual, for her not to tell me anything. She also looked a little off and stunned. I tried to figure out what was going on. Then a couple of minutes later my Senior Enlisted Leader and my Officer in Charge walked in together and asked to see me privately. I knew this was not good because I had been through that before. But I could not think of what it might be. None of my family was sick. Immediately I was scared. When they told me what happened, I could not believe it. I was in shock. I would like to share with you, something I have never shared with anybody. That night, I started a journal of sorts in my notebook that I have kept for the last year. It has work stuff, but when I need to, I have written in it. I want to share the first entry of that night with you.

25 Oct (Iraqi time) Just found out Natalie fell into the pool and that she is in critical condition. This is the worst day of my life. I can not begin to describe how I feel. I am numb and can’t believe this has happened. The last time I saw her, she was a very active and bubbly 1 yr old. Now I can’t imagine her lying there with tubes in her. I am struggling with this because I keep having images of her playing and then falling the pool. I try not to because I have a long trip and I need to be strong to get back home.

These were my thoughts the day I found out. I then had to get on several planes and try to make my way back home. I can never say enough for those I was deployed with. They were amazing and so supportive. They did what they needed to get me home and get me there quickly. I was home the next night. It was amazing and I will never be able to thank them enough. I will share some more of that journal with you all soon. It has been a year and I am ready now.

After Hillary told me what she wanted to name the blog, I wrote this poem.

My heart bleeds
in a Downpour of Rain;
I look up
but all I see is pain.
Getting through
is a Daily Task;
Love and peace
one day at last.
I’ll see my little girl;
Then and only then will I have no pain.
For we will be together and there will be no Downpour of Rain.

Thank you all for your support over the last year. We could not have done it without you.
Good night all,
Hillary, Bryan, our sassy Emily, especially our angel baby Natalie, and our ever growing Allison


Mary Wannall said...

My thoughts have constantly been with you all over the last few days. I sit here crying for your pain and your amazing strength and words. Thank you for allowing us to share this with you.
Mary (Matt) Wannall

Jenna said...

What awesome Tats! I love both of them. that is some you will both treasure. What a beautiful post. I thought your poem was so wonderful Bryan. It has truly moved me tis morning. We will always pray for you and look forward to hearing more stories of your precious girl.

Kristi Kolb said...

This is amazing, Hilary! and I'm SURE your dad understands!!! That is SUCH a lovely way to honor her and remember her for the rest of your life!! You inspire me!

Elizabeth said...

I love the tattoos. I love that she walks with you.
And yet my heart aches. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us!