Somehow it simultaneously feels as if it's been 16 years but also only 16 seconds since we held you for the very first time. Every second of your precious birthday is seared into my memory — from the moment we first saw your squishy face through the window on your incubator, to how you would only hold your daddy's finger (#Daddy'sGirl4Life), to the way the first time I held you could be accurately described as to two TVs hugging (combine me being half-an-hour out of surgery with a medically complex child in the NICU and you get more cables than a Best Buy stockroom).
Each month you continue to amaze us, sweet girl, and June was no different.
One would think that going on vacation would offer a temporary reprieve from the daily walk with grief. What we're becoming more accustomed to is the fact that grief travels with you; there's no casually forgetting it at a rest stop in the middle of North Dakota.
We were reminded of this truth while on our trip to Glacier National Park to honor your Grandma.
Sweetheart, just like grief isn't hindered by state lines, neither are you. Because of your fierce personality even after death, it was clear that we were on a family road trip — not just your daddy and I.
Your Grandma worked in Glacier Park for 5 summers, and it quickly became her favorite place on earth.
After being there for a week, it was easy to see why.
There's something about being in those mountains that speaks directly to your soul. The way you are completely at the mercy of the wilderness, no more or less important than the next creature, completely enveloped in the undeniable presence of God... it's all at once overwhelming, humbling, and magnificent.
I have never been in a place where I felt you and your Grandma so strongly and consistently.
And we were 17 hours from home.
From the yellow butterfly that posed just perfectly so I could take way too many photos of it (1 – yes I was actually that close, 2 – yellow butterflies always remind me of you, darling) to the incredible views around every corner that would leave us speechless, you and your Grandma left a clear mark on our trip.
That fresh mountain air has a way of cleansing you. The chaos of daily life is quieted and you are simply left with the basics of being.
And darling, in that state, you were there.
She was there.
God was there.
Norah, you will always be a part of us and we will carry you with us wherever we go.
"I lift my eyes up to the mountains — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." — Psalm 121