Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reisterstown, Maryland
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:52 PM, CDT
Wow, I can't believe the month of March is almost over. I had great intentions of writing last week. I blinked and found myself here, a week and a half later. Where does time go? Really! I relate to that saying, “I'm so far behind I thought I was first!”
I am in a totally different state of mind as of last Tuesday, March 22nd. It's almost like a switch has been flipped...one I would like to permanently tape in the “on” position as to not have it accidentally or inadvertently switched off. I truly had a very strong epiphany after spending the previous evening of March 21st rocking in the very rocking chair I cradled Sicily in as she slipped from this life into the next. I hugged her pink Hope bear. Her loyal companion throughout her cancer journey. It smelled of her, only because it spent time outside with us at her grave site earlier that evening...therefore it smelled of the outdoors. It smelled of her! As I sat there at days end, I also tightly clinched her Hello Kitty blanket that she was wrapped in as I cradled her in the last moments of her precious life. I sat alone, at 10:45pm and re-lived the most difficult and heart wrenching moment I had ever experienced in my life and wondered if I would ever own the true strength others seem to think I have. I was tired, weary, physically and emotionally drained, and ready, once again, for God to take over.
I awoke Tuesday morning with the strongest desire I have experienced, ever in my life, to make some sort of change. The above mentioned epiphany was when I realized that I just survived, and somewhat successfully did so I will honestly admit in hindsight, an unbelievable experience that I never in my wildest nightmares thought I ever would or could. I felt empowered, finally, as a result of living a full year without Sicily's physical presence. If I could accomplish that, what else am I capable of doing?
There are a few personal things I've longed to achieve in my life. Simple, mundane things that others may take for granted and not think difficult to achieve, but have been mile high brick walls for me. I hate to set myself up for failure by mentioning what I want to do, but if I don't reach my goal then it really is only myself I will be disappointing and letting down. I want to fully participate in a marathon someday. I'm not going so far as to say I want to run a full marathon, but would consider myself successful by just running “any” amount someday. You have to understand that I am not and never have been a fan of running! I was that girl on the track during Jr. high gym class who was passed by on the track so many times that when I crossed the finish line it looked like I was in first place but in reality I just ran one lap and had three more to go! ; ) My body doesn't look favorably upon what my mind is persistent in wanting to try. I'm going to side with my mind on this one and tell my body to, as Sicily would say (after hearing her daddy say it many times), “Suck it up!” So I've dusted off my running shoes (previously known as “walking” shoes) and am slowly trying to build a relationship with the treadmill. My knees complain in shock every time I break out of a brisk walk and attempt a slow jog, but they, too, must listen to Sicily's wise words! Nike encourages us to “Just Do It,” while Miss Sicily Evelyn Zeka barks and demands us to “Suck It Up!” ; ) So I will try my best! ; )
Returning to Sicily's one year “Angelversary,” I can only describe it as a beautifully difficult day. We traveled to Wellington as planned where Father Joe met us at Sicily's very own piece of Kansas property and he performed mass, despite mother nature trying to blow us back to Oklahoma! The wind was strong enough to return Dorothy and Toto back to the family farm without the magic of the ruby red slippers. It was not force enough, though, to stop our spiritual endeavor. With the help of a few borrowed cement garden statues, (an angel from Sicily's plot and a bunny and Mother Mary from Grandpa Zeka's) the make shift folding card table alter was anchored and prepared for mass...the second mass in a years time we've had in the presence of Sicily's last earthly possession, her little body in a box. We were surrounded by a small crowd of cherished and valued family and friends. The thoughts and prayers of those who could not join us physically were felt and treasured. I clutched in my arms Sicily's Hello Kitty blanket. The blanket that she received from her aunts on her Hello Kitty themed third birthday party in April 2008. The blanket that adorned her hospital bed almost every time during her more than eighty days spent inpatient over nineteen months. The blanket she was wrapped in as she was rocked and encouraged to run to heaven. The one that protected her lifeless body as she was placed on the gurney and zipped up in a black plastic bag on her journey to the funeral home. The blanket that was placed back into my arms after her funeral and has been my loyal security object at night for a full year now. Having it, holding it, provides a physical comfort for me. I will sleep with it until it is nothing but patches of fabric scarcely holding onto one another by thin and fragile strands of thread. I'm guessing that it will carry me into my late nineties. And if, by the will of God, it is possible, I will be wrapped in it when I breath my last breathes on earth, too!
After a beautiful mass was offered and loving words spoken by Father Joe, we gathered at Grandma Zeka's house for a dinner of Chinese (Sicily liked lo mein noodles) and angel food cake (per Grandma's request. It never donned on me to serve angel food cake. It was perfect!). Our excursion up north was quick, minus the five hour round trip drive, and we were back home in time for us to get the kids to bed and for Patrick and I to spend a little time in reflection. He had to head to bed before ten as he had to drive back to Kansas in the morning for a meeting, so I prepared for the special time by pulling the autographed CD of Kari Jobe off the bookshelf in the office where I have it on display. This was a priceless gift from a neighbor and friend of my heart on that cold March afternoon. I don't think she will ever know or I can honestly express enough the true value of this CD. It was delivered just hours before Sicily's wings were permanently attached and was the last sounds her little ears heard, along with the voices of her mommy and daddy, as she effortlessly flapped them for the first time. The angelic voice and music of Kari Jobe became a rope from which I clung tightly to as I grieved those first few months. Then it all of a sudden became too painful to listen to, despite her song “Beautiful” being the ring tone on my cell phone. The correlation between the words and soothing accompaniment and their significance to that nights occurrences became too much for my emotions to endure, so I began to avoid something that really meant a lot to me. This past February, the need to listen to her spiritually powerful and meaningful music again became overwhelming and I could not deny what my heart required for continued healing. At first, the tears burned my face and swelled my eyes, but my soul ached for that feeling of closeness. Listening to Kari Jobe's music made me feel so close to Sicily. There really are no words to describe it. When I am washed over with this feeling of closeness, I not only feel Sicily living in me, but God's presence is at its absolute strongest. All because of a CD. All because of lyrics like, “Here, in Your presence, I am not afraid of brokenness,” from one of my favorites songs titled, “Beautiful.” And from another favorite, “Beloved,” “I'll take you to My quiet water. I'll restore your soul. Come rest in Me and be made whole.” I am back to wanting and needing to listen, if even just briefly, to this music daily. It helps remind me of what was, what is now and what is yet to come! Kendra, thank you for listening to God that afternoon of March 21st! You did His work!
Tuesday morning another little ceremony was planned by Sicily's preschool at St. Benedict's. Last year, in honor of her birthday in April, a red bud tree, specifically chosen for it's pink spring blossoms, was planted near the childrens playground at church. This was another one of those incredible days that will forever remain planted in my memory and provide me with warm smiles for years to come. The entire preschool consisting of almost eighty little two-year-olds to five-year-olds gathered for the tree dedication. Each child was handed a balloon to release. The visual of a blue sky dotted with brightly colored balloons flying up to heaven is one I will never forget. Sicily's classmates sent personal messages to her via the balloons. Miss Sylvia, her beloved teacher and very special person in our lives, gave me a list of what each child wanted to say to Sicily. Just thinking about this brings me to tears, which we all know by now is not too difficult to do, but this was about the most precious and meaningful thing these little ones could do for my heart! Lillian said, “I love you! Happy Birthday” Kate said, “I will never forget you!” Chloe said, “I care about you!” Ryan and Nathan said, “I love you and would like to play with you!” Sam said, “I love you - I miss you!” Mary said, “Are you feeling better all day?” Jordon said, “I hope God takes care of you!” Jaden said, “I love you very much with my whole heart!” The one that probably gets to me the most is from the little boy Sicily claimed to be her boyfriend, Blake... “I love you in my heart. I really love Sicily so much!” There were many more sweet and heartfelt words. Needless to say, I cried a lot that day. I cry today re-reading the list.
Jumping forward to this past Tuesday, March 22nd, Miss Judi Ann, the preschool director and Sicily's and my dear friend, had the placque ready that had been ordered to be placed by the tree. It reads, “Our Angel. In Loving Memory. Sicily Evelyn Zeka. April 15, 2005 – March 21, 2010.” Once again we gathered by the tree that had been lovingly nurtured and cared for over the past year and placed the sand colored engraved stone in front of it. Father Joe said a prayer and we released six balloons in honor of Sicily's upcoming sixth birthday. We were minus the entire preschool but enjoyed the brief company of some of the teachers as well as church staff. I am humbled by the actions of others on Sicily's behalf. It still completely amazes me how so many let themselves be affected by her little life and her premature death. That knowledge is what helps me through the day...and sometimes through the hour! When people share their lives and stories with me, my armor of strength grows in layers. When asked how I've gotten through this, look in the mirror. You all are the reason! Isn't it amazing how each of us can have an effect on one anothers lives? As many of you know my favorite analogy is a Newton's Cradle. In the pendulum of life, sometimes we are the ones that get to swing to great heights because of the power and energy shared with us by others. Sometimes we are the ones in the middle...holding still but doing the most important job of support and sharing our vigor. Each one of us is needed in the big picture and for motion, life, to continue! All thanks to God's great design!
I have felt nothing by blessed through out this past year. To realize that Sicily's life and death were both blessings is a lesson I can proudly boast that I've learned and will continue to hopefully embrace the rest of my life. Acceptance leads to peace. Peace leads to pure happiness. Happiness is God's will!
I will end this marathon of a post with something I wrote the Tuesday following Sicily's Angelversary. Before heading to church that morning I sat in the living room while listening, once again, as Kari Jobe sang to me and I wrote a long overdue description about Sicily. I sat with a pencil in hand and a Hello Kitty notebook in my lap. I wrote about who she was and what she meant to me. The rambling of words came very easily and I could've written a short book about her right then and there, but the clock forced me to keep it short. Here is the result:
Sicily Evelyn Zeka...
She was silly, sassy and sometimes sternly stoic.
She could aggravate your mind one minute with her stubbornness and on the turn of a dime melt away your resolve with her sweetness!
She was Sicily.
She understood what it meant to enjoy life and had explored many avenues on how to thoroughly do it and do it to the max.
She was cautiously carefree...a walking, hopping, running contradiction in action. An inherited trait from her mommy.
She was athletic and awkwardly agile...daddy's little sport in the making.
She fully lived life.
She could wrap people around her little finger once her self constructed wall of shy independence crumbled. Her beautiful natural smile beamed with solar blindness and her bubbly, goofy personality boiled over and flowed like lava from a Hawaiian volcano.
She could affect anyone on or near her path.
She shared the best runny nose Eskimo and eyelash-less butterfly kisses in the world. One of her favorite displays of affection was a face to face, nose to nose, forehead to forehead eye stare. Much humor was found in doing this as mommy's two eyes merged into one, as did hers. It never failed to produce a deep belly giggle from us both!
She was a stinker!
Her smile could brighten, and through hundreds of God given pictures, continues to brighten the gloomiest of dark times. The sound of her laughter, as it can only echo in my mind now, once vibrated and tickled my inner core.
She was and always will be our angel!
She had a purpose filled life...though one she couldn't possibly have fully understood herself, but those around her did, and continue to still.
She was a borrowed piece of heaven!
But the consequence of her death made me realize...aren't we all?
I love you Sicily Evelyn Zeka... “All the way to heaven!!!”
I miss you, Pocketful of Sunshine!
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of her, even if briefly, in our lives?
Forever my baby...eternally my angel!
Thy Will be done!
Blessing to you all!