Letters to Norah // 22 Months

Joanna Zuidema1 Comment

Hello, Norah.

What was Christmas like in heaven? Was there a glorious tree? Did everyone gather around the fireplace to hear the Christmas story from the birthday boy himself?  

We missed you and your Grandma here. Our house should’ve been full of your squealing laughter, the living room covered in wrapping paper and overflowing with joy as we watched you be more excited about the packaging than the gifts themselves. Would you have worn a Christmas dress or would we have spent the day in matching Christmas jammies? Would we have woken up early to the smell of cinnamon rolls and bacon filling the house? Or would we have spent the morning snuggled together in bed, watching the snow fall on the trees?

Somehow, in only two short months we will be celebrating your second birthday (I guarantee your grandma has already secretly started the heavenly party preparations). That seems impossible as it feels like just yesterday you were wrapping your tiny hand around my finger. I can still feel the silky softness of your hair and the warmth of every squishy limb. I remember how your toes would curl when we’d touch your feet and the way your face would scrunch when we’d boop your little nose.

What is time like in heaven? Do you celebrate each new year like we do here, or do the years pass like minutes on a clock?

2019 is the second year we’ve entered into without you and the first we’ve entered without your Grandma. This is also the first year we’ve entered since 2016 where the coming year hasn’t been obscured by the looming cloud of death hanging over our family.

But before we head into 2019, I want to take a look back at what 2018 held for our family.

We entered 2018 with your grandma, but she passed away just over a month later.  Norah, she was so looking forward to seeing you again. She even proudly said that she was going to get to hold you first. 

In just under two weeks it will be her birthday. Last year she couldn’t believe she was alive to celebrate it, and now it’s hard to believe she’s won’t be. Can you do me a favor, sweetheart? Could you make your grandma a birthday card? One full of scribbles and handprints? She’ll absolutely love it.

We celebrated your first birthday. We took a road trip through St. Louis down to Nashville with your Uncle Luke and Kayla in honor of you. The trip was full of laughter and a ton of great music. We even drove back through one of the biggest snowstorms of the year. Which, knowing you, makes a lot of sense.

You gained big sister status. Our family of three is growing to four, and in just a couple of weeks we will have two fierce little ladies wrapped around their daddy’s finger.

We went to Glacier Park to honor your Grandma. This magnificent park was her favorite place on earth, and I can see why. Her presence, God’s presence, your presence was absolutely undeniable.

Team Norah raised over $4,000 for the Ronald McDonald House! We came together for the second annual Ronald McDonald House Family Walk and supported the organization that made an irreplacable impact on our lives. We were even the featured family this year, inspiring thousands of people to give through hearing your story.

We had a great race season, ending with a fun time in Topeka, KS. I learned how to track the race data and your Daddy and I had a fun time working together as a team.

We bought our first house! We moved out of the townhouse we had called home for 5 years and headed to the complete opposite side of the metro to our own little getaway in the country. We started projects immediately, were reminded of what ‘country quiet’ means, and have quickly fallen in love with this place we now call home.

We celebrated your Auntie B’s wedding! Your aunts and uncles (any blood relation is completely irrelevant in this family) came together at the end of the year to celebrate Brit and Noah getting married. I was a comically pregnant bridesmaid.


We hosted Christmas for the first time. Doing something different this year felt good and necessary, so we had a small Christmas here in our new house. You and your grandma may not have been physically present, but you still played a big part in our day.

2018 was an intense combination of heartache and joy.

I have a feeling 2019 will lean a little more towards joy, and I’m so looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us.