Anabella Ringgold May 27, 2009 - October 11, 2010
Wow, so much to share. First off, thank you to all who write the most beautiful letters to Bella. They were just simply wonderful to read. I'll tell you more about it below.
All in all, the day went great. My mantra for the day was "Honor Bella and Self Care"
Near my house, there is (another) park called Peters Canyon that I've written about before. Well, after dropping Ali off at school, I went for a run/hike into the canyon and up to "the peak." along the way, I had a nice talk with Bella, and wonderfully enough, my dad. My dad died October 22, 1997 from cancer when I was just 25, and we were really close. He was an amazingly eloquent and talented writer, but a frustrated author who in the end, "never got that book done." So, I asked him what he was up to these days in heaven, and his immediate come-back was, "I'm writing a book."
He continued, "It's about my son: a man that seeks to make a good decision after a bad one, and an even better decision after a good one."
To hear the pride in my dad's words meant more to me than just about anything on this planet. What a gift that was to hear today.
When I got home from hiking, I was really sore, so in the continued spirit of self care, I went and "got that massage!" No joke; I have a gift certificate I was given LAST CHRISTMAS for a massage and I hadn't ever used it. In fact, it was on the very bottom of my inbox, despite being written on my self care list on my white board, "10. Get that massage." So, today, I did, and it was wonderful. For any of you, I highly recommend getting a massage. You may not think you want/need/deserve/whatever one, but is such a nice way to be gentle and care for yourself. Do it. Even once a year, yes, you can make that happen! :-)
Then, I worked on all the letters for the ceremony, picked up Ali, got balloons, cleaned the house, all while Ang cooked and prepared food for the potluck. Once grandma and grandpa were over, we headed over to the park where we knew we were meeting more friends and family.
We picked a spot way out in the playing field to give the balloons plenty of room to clear the nearest trees, and also to give ourselves the space to do our own thing. We gathered in a loose circle in the grass, and began having the kids all write letters to Bella on their balloons. That was really cute. Then, the adults all took turns reading the 50+ letters to Bella around in a circle while we did our best to keep the kids under control. From Australia to Europe to all over the US and Canada, the letters told such amazing stories. It is simply hard to wrap my head around how impactful Bella's short little life was on this world. We are so honored to be her parents.
I have to tell you, as we were working our way through the letters, Ali came up to me and said, "I wanna go! (meaning, I want to take a turn talking to Bella)" So, when it was her turn, she looked up at the sky and spoke in a way I never imagined a 5 and a half year old could... even Ali. Her understanding, compassion, consciousness well exceeded her normal day to day discussions. It was amazing. Then, when we got to the end, she asked if she could go one more time, and the last one was so heartfelt that the tears started coming. She turned and looked at me and said, "It's okay daddy, I can see that you are about to cry."
I always knew that Bella was wise beyond her years, but today, I learned just how much Ali is as well. What a girl. What a soul.
After that, I read the poem I shared on here back in July/August about the boat leaving the shore on its way to a new shore, and when we all released our balloons, I sang Bella's song as we watched them climb higher and higher into the beautiful sky above us. We truly honored Bella today, and when I say we, I mean YOU and us kind of we! Once again, you were there walking this journey by our sides, sharing the load, making it a whole lot more bearable.
Thank you for that. Thank you for still sharing in our journey. You make it easier.
I had a nice conversation today with my mom who lives in CO as well. She and I co-facilitate a Grief and Loss Retreat in Phoenix, AZ (though I have recused myself while I process my own). Three words I can hear in my head over and over regarding holidays, birthdays, anniversaries of loved ones who have died...
"Mark the occasion."
Whether that means choose to stay in bed and pull the covers over you till tomorrow, whether it means do the same thing you always did, or try something new, bring awareness that the day simply is what it is, and it is important to grant the day the validation and respect it is entitled to. Do something, don't just pretend the day isn't coming, here, or passed. That isn't healthy. So, today, we marked the occasion, and you know who was there?
The 3 F's: Friends, Family, and Faith
I am relieved the day is behind us. As usual, the actual event went way better than how my fear, anticipation, and anxiety said it would go! It just goes to show me once again not to actually listen to anticipation anxiety; it rarely if ever is right. Don't let fear stop you; instead, let the events in reality merit your attention over the events in your head.
God night, and thanks again.
P.S. Thanks again to our dear friend Sara Cooper for taking these great pics and capturing the moment.