We will spend Labor Day weekend planting Laynee's memory garden in the space where our swimming pool once stood. Jim has been working on adding new stairs, railing and skirting to the deck where the pool and surrounding deck were torn away. This job has not been an easy one. Ordinarily, adding something new in or around the house is accompanied by a feeling of excitement, or at the very least, accomplishment. In this case the new addition to our deck signifies everything that went so terribly wrong on Labor Day 2009. Every board, every nail, every stroke of the staining brush brings a sense of sorrow. It is with great sadness that I have watched Jim work on this project. Though it is the most befitting way to fill this area, I desperately wish that we were not creating a memory garden for a little girl who should be splashing and laughing in the water that once occupied that spot.
I know that someday this will be a place that I will cherish but right now the thought of growing up plants, when I should be growing up a child, is so painful. I was reminded today of a phone conversation long ago, when my 4 oldest children were all under the age of 5. As I spoke to my mother that day, I vocalized some stress over the fact that I hadn't had time to get my flowers planted and there were weeds growing. She said "don't worry so much about that, your children are your garden now." My heart is struck by the irony that the ability to "grow" Laynee has been taken from me and I am left once again with growing flowers.
I really cannot articulate the emotion that this garden stirs inside of me. All summer I have looked forward to this project. Now that it is here it feels like another notch in the timeline of grief. I know that I can never look at Laynee's Garden with only joy but must once again find room for both joy and sadness. There will always be joy in remembering the life that she lived and sadness in knowing that, according to my plans, she was taken far too soon.
Though it was not intentionally planned this way, the walkways in the garden, when viewed from above, will create a "peace" sign. Jamee and I stood on the deck as I tried to help her visualize where the walkways will be. As she began to see my vision she said, "so it will be like a peace sign?" I had to smile because that is exactly what it will look like: PEACE......that was Laynee.
We've had several things given to us for the garden. My friend Jill brought a ornamental grasses, stating that "they stand tall and mighty....and continue to grow each year...just as Laynee continues to grow in the arms of her father." She also brought daisies because "it symbolizes innocence....what better way to describe the life of a precious little girl." My sisters, Karla and Fern, have contributed a beautiful smoke bush and a rose. At the time of the accident, the kid's schools and athletic teams gave them several gift cards to landscaping companies which will be used. There are several flowering bushes, along with some burning bushes that grew beside the pool, which will be moved into the garden. We have several stones with quotes on them that were sent to her memorial service. There have been many who have expressed that they would like to contribute plants. From my own experience, the plants that grow the best, are those that are shared. That said, my hope is that those who wish to add to Laynee's garden will take starts from their favorite plants within their own flower beds. Obviously, some plants will have to wait until later in the fall, when they are past blooming and safe for digging but we can get a really good start that weekend.
Though I am not exactly sure of how I will do this. My hope is to keep track of what each person contributes and I will place markers next to that plant, indicating those who were touched by Laynee. I also hope to make markers with many of the memories that people have shared about what made her so special. I have pages and pages of quotes from people who felt compelled to share their memories. Laynee's sweetness will tell it's own story through the words of those who met her.
Many have expressed interest in being a part of planting the garden. Anyone who wishes to stop by and take part is welcome. We will begin on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept 4, after Brock runs in his first cross country invitational that morning and take up again on Labor Day. We would love to see you, whether you knew Laynee a little or a lot.
Today my mom brought a beautiful stone that she picked up over the weekend. The stone has a pinkish cast and the words inscribed on it read:
If Love Could Have Saved You
You Would Have Lived Forever
There are no words that could sum it up more perfectly. Never was a child more loved than Jalayne Grace Holmes. We would have given our life for her. When Marty and I worked so hard to save her, we poured every ounce of love we had into her. We breathed love into her. Jim, Karla and the children poured their love out in the form of prayers. We gave everything we had to give..... but it was not enough. Our love did not save our baby girl, perhaps because we could never love her like her Father in Heaven loves her.