The abscene of the pool changes the entire look of our yard and the back side of our home. The vibrant color has been removed and in it's place a lifeless hole. The barreness seems representative of the void and emptiness in our life. It doesn't look right. It doesn't feel right to have this big part of our life missing. The pool was nothing more than a structure, a place where memories were formed and yet it's abscence is somehow symbolic of another, far more painful loss in our life. Like the hole in the backyard, there is a cavernous crater in our home, our family, our life. There is a missing piece that cannot be replaced.
My sister, Fern, unexpectedly spent yesterday helping me around the yard. We both celebrated birhday's this weekend. I turned 40 and she, 50. Because she would otherwise have spent her birthday alone, she came to visit me and somehow was roped into yard work. Her help and presence was a blessing as I had been dreading the task that, on any other year, I would relish in. We have a large yard with a lot of landscaping and I typically love working in the dirt with the new spring growth. This year the job was painful as Laynee's memory is everywhere outdoors. Jim was busy, working on another large project, so together Fern, Jamee, Jade and I worked at sprucing things up. While we worked I thought of her chasing the kittens right through the flowers. I pictured her throwing things through the deck railings and into the flowers. I recalled one of the bushes that chose to open it's first blooms the day after the accident. It felt strange to not have to be constantly calling out to "come back over here." My mind's eye could see her exuberance at each new flower that would pop up this spring. At 3:00 I was aware that, if things were normal, I would send someone in to get her up from her nap. Though my mind remained on Laynee much of the time, conversation and companionship helped to ease some of the pain.
Even before the pool was removed, Jim and I and the kids had decided that we would fill the empty space with a memorial garden for Laynee. In so doing, we will take the ominous reminder of death and transform it into a beautiful representation of life. Laynee's life was vibrant, filled with color and exuberance. Her very presence exuded peace, love and happiness. A tragedy far greater than that which we have already experienced would be to remember her as anything less than she was. With this in mind we will carefully select, plant and nurture life in the place where the angels gathered her into their arms. We will plant color to signify her zest for life. There will be a place of quiet rest to remember the peace that could only come from eternal innocence. Perhaps there will be a fountain flowing as love so easily poured from her existence. My family has offered to purchase an engraved stone, on which we will proclaim that she was and is and always will be "Our Forever Love."
Laynee's garden will require much effort. It cannot happen on it's own. This too is an appropriate portrayal of life since the accident. Mere survival has demanded that we take that which is unhealthy and weed it from our lives. We have persevered only through the love and compassion of friends and family. We have found hope by being firmly rooted in our faith and in the word of God. We have had to face the unpleasant aspects of grief and loss, not going around them or stepping over them, but digging right through them. Laynee's garden will not grow overnight. Just as our healing takes time, so also will Laynee's garden. It will require digging, planting and pruning. Sunshine, as well as rain will be required. We will watch as Laynee's garden grows. The garden will be a statement of life, not for those who are gone from us but for those who go on living.
I will turn their mourning into gladness.
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sadness