Recently, we spent a beautiful Fall weekend in the mountains with friends.  Ellie loved being with all the children, running and playing, eating junk food and staying up late.  All I could think about while watching her, was how much Charlie would have loved being there too.  He would have helped her down the stairs, waited for her when the big kids ran ahead, all the things a big brother would do…. The loss is deep on this one, that she may not remember that he in fact did those things for her even in the short two years he had in her life.

Later that weekend, all of the families went to Tweetsie Railroad, a wild west themed amusement park tucked in the North Carolina mountains complete with overpriced souvenir stores that were impossible to avoid.

Ellie loved it.  We rode toy cars, the carousel (at least 50 times), and the teacups, perfectly sized for small children.  She smiled and giggled and waved to our friends each time we passed on the ride.  

Then we rode the ferris wheel, being one of the first patrons to board, there was a constant stop and go as each seat filled up. While finding ourselves at the top of the wheel, I thought for sure, Ellie would become antsy as we waited for the ride to officially start, but she didn’t.  She waved at her daddy and friends below and giggled and smiled as she had done on every other ride.

Then, all of the sudden, she looked up to the sky above, waving and smiling, and yelled out “Hi, Charlie!!”

In that moment, I begin to cry, laugh and smile all at the same time. My heart was full of loss, grief, joy and thankfulness all wrapped into those two sweet words “Hi Charlie.”   

As the ride begin to make its rotation, full speed, each time we reached the top, Ellie would yell out those same words, “Hi Charlie!” And as we would descend, she would talk about Charlie, how he is her big brother, reminding me of how happy he was in heaven and how we missed him so much here but that it was ok because one day we would see him again.

I still struggle everyday not knowing if Ellie will ever truly have memories of him or will the memories be created from the stories we tell her.   Will she remember how he always made sure to bring her a lollipop from the grocery store when she was at home napping, or how he would clap for her when she blew bubbles at swim lessons or how he always had to give her a goodnight kiss before she went to bed? Will she remember how he taught her to play hide-and-seek (although very poorly) and how he was the one that started the naked-booty dance tradition that she carries on each time they took their clothes off at bath time.

But what I realized on the ferris wheel that day was that while it hurts to think that Ellie may only have the memories we tell her about Charlie, she will know without reminding the most important thing… the love.

Ellie will know how much love Charlie brings to our family, everyday.  She will know that love is everlasting and does not stop with distance or time.  Ellie will know that while love brings us laughs and smiles, it can also bring tears and that’s ok.  We love in joy and in sorrow, but love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13: 8-10 “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”