While there are many things I would like to forget, there are some days it's good to remember.
14 years ago today our second daughter, Ashley, died from multiple birth defects. She fought valiantly but in the end their combined affects were too much and she passed on, only spending a brief 12 hours on this earth. While her time was small her impact wasn't. Her short visit has afforded us the opportunity to share, encourage, bond, grieve, teach, question, doubt, hope, grow, and somehow find ways to love each other and enjoy life more (although much of that took quite some time to develop).
One of the ways we mark these days is through some family rituals. While they didn't start out that way, the things we did early on were serendipitously repeated and now have become mandatory customs of the Barrett family.
One of the most meaningful to me is lighting the Memorial Candle.
It's a custom with Hebraic roots where you light a candle and let it burn for 24 hours. For me it symbolizes the presence of our daughter for that short time. We even put it on a table in the hallway so it flickers throughout the night. I dread letting it go out when the wax is gone. That's the saddest part for me.
One of the other things we really enjoy is eating lunch at the grave site.
Every year we go to a certain Uptown Lund's Grocery Store and everyone gets to pick out what they want to eat. We bring a blanket to sit on and enjoy a lunch with our third daughter. October weather can be uncooperative but we always soldier through. Lund's used to carry puppy chow and that became an important part of the meal. In recent years they've stopped making it so we have to make it at home and bring it. (recipe below) The meal wouldn't be the same without it.
Years ago we planted an apple tree in the backyard as a memorial. Every year around this time we enjoy apples from our Ashley tree. We also have a wall where we've posted some pictures and memories.
As I sit here and watch our Memorial Candle start to fade and sputter, I'm glad the kids are so attached to these events. They take great comfort in them. We may have let them slide if they didn't insist that we go to the same grocery store every year, do our meal regardless of the weather and always get puppy chow.
Not for 12 hours but for eternity.
Memorial Puppy Chow Mix.
1 C chocolate chips
1/2 C peanut butter
1/4 C butter
Melt that together over medium heat, then turn off burner and add one spoonful of vanilla. Stir.
Stir in 6 cups of Rice Chex until coated.
Add 1 1/2 C powdered sugar and toss to coat.