memories are weird. i can’t tell you what i ate last week. but in a moment i can flashback and be re-living last march. and all of a sudden it is the weekend and i am chatting with my sister and she is saying, “i don’t feel great – – do i have the flu? could i be in labor?” and i am reassuring her and telling her “i don’t think so – – klein baby girls are late. you probably overdid.” or two days being awaken in the middle of the night, trying to process the voice on the other end saying, “marie, sarah is getting ready to have an emergency c-section” and me breathing in as deep as i could before saying, “okay – – can you give her the phone?” and trying in all my fake bravery to tell her, “everything is going to be okay – – babies are born healthy at 31 weeks all the time.” and then i am sitting there at my kitchen table all over again, staring through my imsg, willing it to tell me that everything would be okay. two days later i ran through frankfurt with mercy to make my connecting flight. i barely made it. i watched the movie “boyhood” on the airplane ride from frankfurt to sacramento. i still listen to the song “hero” to fall asleep. cacey met me at the airport, took me to sarah and took mercy for the night. i met my eisley hope in the nicu at uc davis on a thursday night.

and then there are entire months that i do not remember. i can’t tell you what i did in april or may. i am told i went to work. i have pictures of me at the orphanages, me and the girls, me and christian. i don’t remember a single day in may. i don’t remember if i wished my mom a happy birthday OR a happy mother’s day. i can barely remember my middle child’s 4th birthday. in may, i wondered if we would ever be the same, ever laugh, ever relax, ever stop worrying. i made deals with God – – while my heart froze every time i received a text from anyone in my family. there were times this past year where i stared in the mirror and didn’t recognize what i saw. there were times this past year where i wondered if i was living one big made up joke. there were times when i just didn’t know.

and then i have memories here and there. summer memories that slowly brought small moments of laughter. my children were the beginning of my road to healing. grieving like a child is so simple and yet so powerful. my kids TALK about eisley. my kids CRY about eisley. my kids have zero apprehension about telling someone “my cousin died. her name is eisley. she went to heaven to be Jesus.” the biggest thing i learned this summer is that there is no “returning” to “normal” but there is finding a new normal. and that new normal will include laughter and smiles and jokes and happy moments but that new normal will always be missing a strawberry blonde little girl names eisley and that new normal will always have a little bittersweet because we have experienced loss and death.

this post really has no end. it has no moral or amazing wow moment. it isn’t even finished. we still have a lot of pain. and we still have days where we wonder why and struggle. there are still moments when we doubt. and then there are days when we laugh and smile and giggle. there are days when we forget for a moment. i don’t think there is a earthly end to this story. march 23, 2017 will be the same and yet different. we will still miss eisley and hurt and wonder why. and maybe next year it will feel easier. but who knows – – maybe march 23, 2018 will be the hardest of “anniversary-birthdays.” i don’t know and i am pretty sure sarah and tanner don’t know either. i think grief is a strange kind of song. sometimes it gets stuck on repeat, sometimes it plays without a problem, sometimes it freezes and doesn’t play at all. i guess that is simply grief.

but today, well it was the most beautiful way to spend a day i never wanted to spend. never in my wildest dreams did i imagine celebrating my sweet girl’s first birthday without her. but today i stood around a beautiful headstone, covered in amazing flowers, surrounded by some of the strongest people i know. and today we let balloons sail up to heaven, carrying sweet messages to our little girl. and then we enjoyed dinner and strawberries for our little strawberry blond munchkin.


happy first birthday sweet girl. we love you and miss you more than words can describe.
uncle christian, auntie marie, addy, mercy and new cousin

Marie Klein Burtt

About Marie Klein Burtt