Memories flashed through my mind as I took the last walk through our home before we moved. Lingering at the foot of the stairs my memory held peals of laughter coming from the children’s bedrooms. Looking out the kitchen window was the vivid image of Peyton and Paige caught up in some make believe drama on their swing set. Pausing in the living room the most bittersweet memories flashed. My eyes focused on the spot where Paige took her first steps, then over to the place where Peyton grinned at the camera on his first day of kindergarten. Finally my eyes settled in the corner where my chair had once sat. It was there my mind held the image of my daughter Emma taking her last breath. Her three year old body giving way to the devastating effects of Cockayne syndrome, passing away peacefully in my arms.
After Emma died, it did not seem possible our family could ever call another house home without memories of Emma beating within the walls. But as we have settled into our new house our family is finding Emma is with us always and her memory is not found within a house but instead is in each of us. She is found in the shine which lights up Peyton’s face as he tells funny stories about her. In my husband’s smile when he looks at pictures of her. She is found in the pride in Paige’s eyes when she says “my big sister”. Emma is with us as we meet other children who have Cockayne syndrome and take them into our arms without hesitation. Her lingering laughter fills our new home in our memories. Peyton and Paige find comfort as they climb into the worn chair where I sat holding Emma as she was dying. We celebrate her life as we make memories in a new home.
We keep her memory alive and woven securely into our family’s fabric. Filled with God’s peace and comfort I am overcome with a revelation found in the duality of meaning in a person’s death date. For those left behind, the death date signifies and ending to life on earth. For Emma that sunny day in May was a glorious day. It was her homecoming, the day she returned to her savior – in a perfect body, free from pain. On that day the Lord took her into His loving arms and said “Welcome home Emma, my good and faithful servant.” Welcome home. What a homecoming!
Kim Houser is an avid supporter of hospice care, advocate for families of children with life threatening illness, and passionate about sharing how God’s word helped our family find peace in pain. Co-Founder of Circle of Hope, a non-profit organization which supports children and families faced with the serious or life threatening illness of a child. www.circleofhopehuntsville.com