I could not believe that it was my baby girl’s senior prom. Prom season has been such a fun season for my two daughters. Both of my girls have loved the times of shopping for their prom dresses and the whole prom experience. Prom has definitely been a special time for us all. MiKayla’s senior prom went great yesterday. She and her boyfriend Ty looked incredible and are just so happy to be together. MiKayla has been blessed with very special friends that have been with her throughout her school career. All of the wonderful people that have journeyed with her just makes everything that much sweeter. Kylee’s proms were very special also, and she, like her sister, had many special friends that have been with her throughout her school career as well. I am so thankful for each one who has made their proms and most especially, their school careers so special.
Part of grieving so often includes what we wish that person or people who have died would have been able to experience with us. For the girls, I so wish that their dad and brother would have been able to see them at their proms. My husband died in a work related accident in August 2011 and then my only son PK was instantly killed in a car accident at the age of 18 in June 2013. I know that they would have both been so proud of how beautiful their daughter/sister looked each time. I would have enjoyed watching them and how they would have acted with the dates and boyfriend. It would have brought a whole new flavor to the experiences I am sure. I know that my girls so wish that their dad and brother would have been able to continue to be a part of their special moments.
Often through the years, the prom dinner was held at our home for the girls and their dates and some of their close friends. That was always a special time and added quite a bit of preparation to the prom season. I always wanted the yard and landscaping completed before the prom dinner as we would take many beautiful outside pictures. Of course, the inside of the house needed to be cleaned, ready, and set up for the dinner as well. Thankfully through the years, some of the kids’ moms who were attending the dinner had creative decorating skills so they would come up with the theme and ideas for that! I was thankful each year to be able to witness the creativity and craftiness of some of my friends, and I can assure you that this craftiness is most definitely not one of my strengths. I am always thankful and appreciative of those who do possess these gifts!! Because we were not hosting the dinner, then this year felt a lot more relaxed as we approached the big day! It was great timing as well because work had me on the road for that week so that would have possessed an entirely different challenge if we were hosting the dinner!
My sweet PK was able to attend two proms. His sophomore year, he was asked by his sweet friend Bri. His junior year, he went with his longtime, wonderful friend Laura, and they had attended a couple of homecomings together as well. He had a blast each time and loved to share about his adventures that he had. I am thankful that he did get to experience two of them.
MiKayla had lots of fun with her appointments and was blessed with wonderful people who did her hair and makeup. We had fun this year not letting her boyfriend see her dress until he drove up, and that was definitely fun to surprise him with! I had lots of fun taking pictures of them before we headed over to meet her group of friends. Ty and MiKayla would look at poses online and then act them out if they liked them. I was having lots of fun capturing these special moments. I love how often I am able to be a part of the fun and joy that they have when they are together.
Next, we headed off to the courthouse to meet some of her dear friends. The day was great for pictures as the temperature was in the 70s and it was slightly cloudy. Everyone seemed to enjoy their photo shoot, and we were able to take some individual shots, pictures of the couples, and then lots of pictures with the special friends whether it was small or large groups. Pictures are so great, and I am completely convinced that these wonderful pictures will be treasured for many years to come. We captured lots of great shots, and I know that each memory is a treasure.
After that, MiKayla and Ty were off to the dinner, and I headed home to run our sweet 5 week old puppies around outside for a short time. It was also giving me a little alone time to try to prepare for what I was going to encounter next. I had not spoken to anyone about my feelings, but I was filled with them. The senior walk and slide show were changing locations this year. The auditorium that they were going to hold it in was the exact place where we held my son’s visitation and funeral. It was the last place where I viewed my son’s body. It was the stage on which I stood next to his casket as our family and friends filed by to see him. It was the stage where I stood at his funeral where I spoke and tried to share my heart and to thank all of the incredible people in that room that were each such a special part of my son’s life. The thought of sitting back in that room had my heart and mind filled with dread. I was trying to pray and to be at peace.
As the time arrived where I knew that I needed to go to the auditorium, I felt like I had millions of emotions going through me. I was so very proud of my baby girl, and I completely wanted this night to be about her and for her to have the best time. Therefore, I did not share any of my feelings with her about going back to that place. I did not know if my daughter would be thinking about it, or if she was going to be able to just focus on her prom, date, and friends. That was my prayer for her and exactly what I was hoping for my daughter. My eyes kept filling with tears as I drove there. I parked the vehicle and just sat there. I kept thinking that I did not want to go in. As I have done ever since my only son died, I reminded myself that my two incredible daughters deserve my best just as much as my son ever did. I did not want to go in there in tears. I wanted this night to be a joyful one for my baby girl as she had experienced so much sadness in losing her daddy and big brother. I want to give each of my daughters as many incredible moments as possible.
I also kept telling myself that if I did cry that people would most likely assume that I was tearful because MiKayla was having her senior prom and would soon be graduating and that I was sad thinking of being alone this fall. Many people do have those thoughts when they see me, and I am frequently asked, “What are you going to do next year, Kristi?” I guess they are very curious about this soon to be single, empty-nester. As I entered the auditorium, I was not able to locate MiKayla. One of my friends was saving me a seat and I walked down to where she was seated. There were moms that were tearful around me talking about their children graduating. I know that I will experience many feelings as I transition to both of my daughters being in college. My children have been the absolute most important part of my life and have dominated my focus ever since they ever were. However, in these special moments that they have then I am so thankful for each and every one. I am so glad that my girls got to experience their senior year and senior prom.
My son PK was killed the summer before his senior year. He did not get to be there for it. I went through his senior year with his friends without him. I went to his senior walk and saw pictures and memorials of him on the slide show, but my son did not get to walk on that stage for his senior walk. Oh how I miss my boy. Now I was sitting in a chair staring at the stage where I stood with his casket. I was staring at the place where I was staring at my son’s lifeless body. Oh God, my heart screamed, please help me. Every part of me wanted to run as fast as I could out of that room that represented the absolute worst moments of my life. Somehow,by the grace of God, I was able to focus on the friends around me as we waited. I kept trying to refocus my mind off of the images that were swirling in my head of my son and his visitation and funeral. My two friends that were seated in front of me wanted to talk about our sweet puppies which is always a wonderful distraction as they could not be cuter. My friend who was seated beside me was sharing from her heart some things that were going on with her. I was able to focus in on what she was experiencing and this also helped with the waiting.
Once the seniors started walking across the stage then I was able to focus in on them. I was so thankful for each one that had been such a special part of my MiKayla’s life and for each moment of joy that they had brought to her. As MiKayla came out on the stage, I was once again amazed at my beautiful baby girl who has had to endure so much from such a young age. I was so incredibly proud to see her standing there enjoying her moment with some of her precious friends who had been on this journey with her. The love and joy that I felt in that moment of watching her is beyond words.
As we watched the slideshow, I was again able to celebrate each one as we saw pictures of them from when they were little to what they looked like now as seniors. I have been hearing so many parents say, “Time slow down”, or “stop time”. My time stopped with my son at the age of 18. Thank God that now Kylee is 21 1/2 and having an awesome college experience. Thank God that MiKayla has had an awesome senior year and is headed to college. Time stopped with my son. Lord, please let time continue with my two beautiful girls. I am so thankful for each moment with them. They are incredible young women who I am thankful for with every part of me!!
As the prom was ready to begin, and it was time for the parents to leave, then I was thankful to have been able to focus in and celebrate my baby girl. Even though my pain and grief were traveling with me as they are a part of me, I am so thankful that I can still experience so much joy in who my two incredible daughters are. Tears poured down my face as I drove home. I immediately went and got our sweet puppies and held them. I want to enjoy them as much as possible before they go to their new homes in about a week and a half. Puppy therapy is very good for my heart and for my two incredible daughters’ hearts.
MiKayla had a wonderful prom night, and she was sleepy and happy this morning. I am so thankful that she and Kylee both had wonderful senior proms. Thank you to each one of you who has been and continues to be a special part of all three of my childrens’ lives… I am ever grateful.
“Be thankful for today because in one moment, your entire life could change.” Author unknown