5 years ago today my baby girl went to be with Jesus.
It was the most horrible experience I have ever lived through... watching her die.
But God has done amazing things through her brief life and her death. I can honestly say I am at peace with her being gone. That wasn't always the case. There were many months of heart wrenching grief... of tears, of trying to find balance and purpose in life again after she was gone. However, God has done so many good, awesome things since then... I have seen people turn back to Christ, I have seen others delve deeper into their faith, I have seen God work and bring peace and comfort not only to me and Andy... but to our families. I have seen others step out of their comfort zones to care for others... to care for me. I have seen the power of prayer come to life... I have seen God change my thinking.... mend my heart.
I struggled for a long time with how to address this day... the anniversary of a death.
I always felt sad celebrating her birthday after she was gone... it seemed wrong to celebrate when she wasn't here. I know that is a feeling and a decision that is very different for all families who have lost loved ones... but for me... it was too sad.
But as God healed my heart and gave me what I can only describe as a gift of a Heavenly perspective... The Captain and I decided we wanted to celebrate the day Caden cast off the burden of this life and ran into the loving arms of her Father.
We do it for us... but mostly we do it for our boys.
I want the boys to learn that, for a believer in Christ, death is not to be feared... it is not creepy or scary. For those who know Jesus, who have placed their faith in Him... death is a celebration. It is the day when they have finished the race and can finally rest in Jesus' arms. They are home.
And it is a beautiful thing.
I want my boys to have a good memory attached to their sister... not just the knowledge that she is dead.
So each year, on or as close to the day Caden went to Heaven, we send up floating lanterns. AS a way to honor her, thank God for her... but mostly to Thank God for sending His Son to die in our place, so we do not fear death.
This year our lanterns will be sent up a little late... The Captain, the boys and I are on vacation. We are dipping our toes in the ocean and feeling the sand underfoot. We are soaking up sun and family time.
And even though we are postponing our lantern send-off... we are remembering our sweet, sweet girl.
Caden Joelle Chastain made me a mommy for the first time.
She taught me about selflessness, about love, about purpose... She brought joy and happiness and laughter into our home... and into our hearts.
And although we do not get to enjoy her sweet smile today... because of Jesus and all He has done we will get to for all eternity.