Love from Friends on Clara’s First Birthday #loveforclara

Love from Friends on Clara's First Birthday #loveforclara

This past Monday, July 1, would have been our youngest daughter Clara’s first birthday. She was stillborn at 42 weeks 3 days gestation, and we found out she had died when we went to the hospital to give birth to her.

It has been a difficult year for my husband and I, and we have been dreading this day. A day that should have been filled with happy birthday songs for my smiling baby girl was instead destined to be a terrible string of memories and wishes of what can never be.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

The day started out very hard, with David and I reliving every second of what was happening at this exact time last year. Things began to get better after I got online to find dozens of Facebook notifications and email messages. I am lucky to have a wonderful group of supportive friends who remembered us and organized “Clara Day”, in memory of our sweet girl.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

Balloons were released, candles lit, trees and flowers planted, memories made… all in honor of Clara Edith Webb. It makes my heart sing to feel so much love from friends I’ve never met face to face. I read so many caring messages and saved so many pictures, and every one of them lifted my spirits and made me feel so much better. I called David over to share them with him, and we cried together — sad tears for the loss of our baby, but happy tears for the love and light that we could feel from our friends.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

Thank you to each one of you who read Clara’s story and remembered her by sending in her name or celebrating with us on Monday. I wish (so much) that she were here to celebrate her first birthday with us, but that cannot be, and I am honored that she is being remembered so wonderfully.

Clara's First Birthday - Love from Friends #loveforclara

Chicken Dance and a Roller Skating Party #WW

We were invited to a roller skating party for a family friend’s 5-year old. I was a little nervous about it — neither David nor I have roller skated since 1991-ish, Lakin is afraid to try roller skating, so I worried that she would be bored and/or grumpy, and my kids would be the oldest ones at the birthday party. Nevertheless, I wanted to see our dear friends Craig and Kristin. The girls and I lived with them briefly in early 2008 and they’re fun, funny… just really great people… so we headed out to the roller skating rink.

We got to the skate rink and well, it hasn’t changed since 1991-ish. I mean, maybe not since 1971-ish. It’s pretty much exactly like I remember it as a child. Not a single thing has changed that I could see, which made the whole party even more fun and nostalgic. The kids who could skate were flying around the polished floor, clucking and wagging to the Chicken Dance, putting their right feet in and out for the Hokey Pokey… just like we used to do when we were their age.

Roller Skating Party

Addah was determined to learn how to roller skate, so David put on a pair of skates and bravely headed for the floor with her. This man used to be a whiz on skates, but in the 20-some intervening years… not so much. He stayed mostly upright though and coaxed Addah through the beginner steps of roller skating. She did very well, much better than I did on my first roller skating escapade!

Right as the party was winding to a close and the deejay was calling for skates to be turned in, she coasted across the floor on her own steam. Now she can’t wait to visit the Skate Rink again!

And in case you wondered, my worries about Lakin being bored (and ergo, grumpy) turned out to be unfounded. She occupied herself very well, spending the majority of her time helping to watch the many little kids who came to the party. No one can ever accuse this girl of not being helpful, that’s for sure!

I’m linking up several places for Wordful/Wordless Wednesday…

live out loud button better in bulk button seven clown circus button babybabylemon jenni from the blog button Pictimilitude button Fresh Mommy Blog
parenting BY dummies
Wordless Wednesday by David Tales of a Pee Dee Mama The Paper Mama

For my Papa, on his 58th birthday

Dear Papa,

Today is your 58th birthday and I want to take this opportunity to tell you how much I appreciate everything you have done for me. I was thinking of you this weekend, and I wanted to share with you one of my most treasured memories from my childhood.

It’s been more than 20 years, but I remember the details like they happened yesterday. The years that I was 9 and 10 years old, I was allowed to miss one day of school in May and one in October. I would help you pack up your full-size work van and we would hit the open road for the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. It might only be 2 hours from Greenville to Charlotte, but it seemed like a very long drive to me.

Back then, I didn’t know a thing about Nascar racing, except that you loved to watch the races on Sunday afternoons and Colin and I had to be very quiet or we wouldn’t be allowed to stay in the living room. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world when I was invited to go with you to the big race, the Coca Cola 600. We were going to be camping in the infield, right in the center of the race track. How exciting!

I remember that you had built a wooden platform on top of your van. It was painted the same color burgundy as the van. Once at the races, you would climb up the handmade wooden ladder to the top, where your friend would hand up the railings you had made to fit down into the platform, creating a deck where we could all sit and see the racing action.

We would set up the tent, and your friends Richard and Cindy would set up their tent by ours. We cooked out on a camp stove at night and would hike up to the porta-johns to use the bathroom. All day long, the adults would sit up on the platform in camp chairs, smoking cigarettes and watching the races. I remember that I’d stay up there until I couldn’t anymore, until I was too hot and bored to stand it anymore. The qualifying races weren’t that interesting to me. I’d climb down the ladder and curl up in the tent to read a book or write in my journal. I might have complained (I’m sure I did, honestly) but I was grateful to be there, to be included.

On Friday, there would be a qualifying race, and again all day Saturday. In between qualifiers, we could walk across the race track to the mass of trailers set up to hock Nascar merchandise. It was fun, walking through that crowd, holding your hand. In hindsight, I’m sure it was chock full of rednecks and trashy women, but I didn’t see that as a child. I was just loving the time alone with you.

I remember the excitement of the big Sunday race. We’d wake up early and I’d eat cereal in a blue and white speckled camp bowl while you would boil water for coffee on the camp stove. We’d all climb up the ladder to the platform and wait for the race to start. My favorite part was always the start of the race, or just after the cars had been under the caution flag, when the pace car would come out and then speed into the pits, like a mouse being chased by frantic cats.

I’d watch the numbers on the center scoreboard, cheering when your favorite (and thus, mine), Bill Elliott, would pull ahead, grumbling with the adults when the least liked drivers would take the lead. There was so much positive energy at the end of the 600 laps, when the winner would finally cross the finish line and declare his victory.

On the drive home, it was always dark. I’d watch the headlights of the oncoming traffic, listening to Dire Straits and Van Halen on the radio, talking with you about school or my siblings or the weekend we’d just shared.  I remember these moments so fondly… the only times I ever remember being alone with you for any length of time. They meant the world to me.

I went three times in two years to the races in Charlotte with you, and then your friend’s wife Cindy was killed in a car accident. I went with you to the funeral, the first time I’d ever been so close to death. We went once more to the races, but the friend brought his new girlfriend and you didn’t like her much. It wasn’t the same, and we never went back.

I’m not sure if I ever told you, but I loved those race weekends with you. It wasn’t about the races, or the camping. It was about the time spent with you, the conversations and the wonderful feeling of being your only child, just for that weekend.

Thank you for those weekends, Papa. I love you incredibly and I apologize for every time I’ve had a chance to say so, and didn’t. You are an excellent father, and I hope you have a wonderful 58th birthday.

Love from your oldest daughter,