The Macs » Blog

she would have been six

Wednesday was Cora’s birthday. She would have been six.

The boys and I have started a little tradition of painting rocks to put at Cora’s stone. We still put flowers at her stone every once in awhile but they don’t last long in the Kansas weather…they usually freeze or blow away! But our rocks are always there and I love that. When I see that little pile of rocks it reminds me of my Rock. It is only because of Jesus that I have the strength to visit my daughter’s gravestone. It is only because of Jesus that I live in hope.

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

I had this great idea of cutting fabric hearts out and gluing them onto the rocks this year. I thought the boys could help me paint on the glue. But they assured me that Cora would want her rocks painted…so pink and orange rocks it was!

And while the boys painted I made a few fabric heart rocks for my girl.

In the afternoon while Griffin was napping Levi and I ordered some books for Wesley’s Joyful Life Library.

Last year you all were so awesome and helped us fill up the ten Joyful Life Libraries with books. We decided we wanted to give some books for Cora’s birthday again this year. If you haven’t heard of the Joyful Life Library…go check it out! Levi had so much fun picking out his favorite books for the sweet kids at Wesley.

When Joel got home from work we drove to the cemetery with Cora’s birthday balloons and our pretty rocks.

Griffin had been sick and didn’t want to be in the birthday balloon photo. Poor guy. He looks miserable!

So Levi was in charge of sending the balloons off to heaven. The boys love this tradition and so do I.

They set out all their rocks too.

Levi and I wondered how big Cora’s pile of rocks will be when we are celebrating her twentieth birthday. 🙂

And then we celebrated sissy’s life with dinner and bowling. This was the first time the boys had been bowling. They loved it. Griffin even cheered up a little.

Levi was a pro in no time.

And Griffin was cracking me up. He kept saying “me do it” because he wants to do everything by himself. His ball took forever to reach the pins. And he would get so frustrated if we even tried to help his ball go a little faster.

It is always hard to know how to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. Even after celebrating six birthdays without her…we still feel like we don’t know what to do. We, of course, celebrate the precious gift of Cora’s life. She was and continues to be a blessing to our family in so many ways. Her short life was a gift and we know her days were ordained by God. But the reality is that celebrating birthdays without the birthday girl is just hard. A sweet friend sent me this note a few days before Cora’s birthday:

“Praying for you this week and that you experience Jesus’ loving presence step by step…He is peace…no need to try and create it…He is peace…life sucks sometimes but He doesn’t.”

Her note was so short and simple but so true. I often try to create the “perfect” birthday for Cora. Or at least as perfect as you can get when your daughter is not here to celebrate with you. I try to create peace. But you know what? I have found that usually the day doesn’t go like I expected…or like I hoped. I am so thankful that I don’t have to try to create my own peace…He is peace. It is true, life sucks sometimes. But even when our circumstances aren’t what we would consider “peaceful” we can still find perfect peace in our Savior. It wasn’t a perfect day. Our hearts ached and the tears flowed as we missed our sweet birthday girl. But we were truly filled with His peace. A peace that surpasses our earthly understanding.

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
 Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

Isaiah 26:3-4

  • Kristina - There are no perfect words to say….but I felt for you as I read this post. For a momma who doesn’t have her girl there to celebrate with on her birthday. I LOVE the rock idea. What a great way to get your boys involved.

    May you continue to have the peace that passes understanding. What a day that will be…when you see Jesus and Cora face to face!ReplyCancel

  • Rosalind - Hugs and strength to you during this difficult time. There is no expiration about grief and you should never feel guilty for missing such a gorgeous and vibrant little girl. I only wish that your family had had more time with her.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle from Australia - Hugs.ReplyCancel

  • Paige - I have no words greater than God’s to share to take away your hurt, but my heart breaks for you and I care. Prayers, Jess, prayers for peace to continue to reign in your heart.ReplyCancel

  • creole wisdom - I love that note your friend sent you. Isn’t it a huge blessing to know that He died for us and that you will one day be reunited with sweet Cora in heaven? But, I can only imagine that waiting is difficult. Your decision to cling to love and God during this time is so admirable. Those rocks are beautiful, I love that the boys enjoyed painting theirs. Sending you so much love and hope xo.ReplyCancel

  • Amber - Such a sweet story of how you celebrate your sweet girl. Prayers to you.ReplyCancel

  • gin - it’s hard to read this. It touches my heart to see your love for your daughter and your love for your heavenly father knowing He is in control, no matter our wants or plans.ReplyCancel

  • awbree - Oh Jess. This made me cry. What beautiful words you have. Your grace amazes me. What a wonderful way to remember her. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - Your husband is dreamy!!! ReplyCancel

  • Stefanie - You celebrated her birthday perfectly. Those sweet rocks are a wonderful token of your love for her. Prayers for you and your beautiful family.ReplyCancel

  • Toni :0) - I can’t believe sweet Cora would have been six. I still pray for you and your family, all the time. Not many words to say but prayers and hugs always surrounding you. God bless.ReplyCancel

  • molly - what a beautiful celebration. and the rocks are so neat.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - This was…is….just a beautiful post. I hate to say “post” because that just makes it sound so internet-y. I wish I had some profound words for you, something of comfort or peace, but I don’t……and honestly, when we (anyone here) reads this, it is always YOU that comforts us. You that teaches us through your pain and honest questioning and soulful devotion to Christ that leave US feeling renewed and closer to God. You who shows us His grace and lessons.

    I don’t have anything to give to you, but to say Happy Birthday, sweet Cora. You are loved by so many here on earth and your beauty radiates here even still after you look down from the Heavens.


  • Diane Taylor - Hi Jess – it’s been awhile since I commented on your blog (I still read it faithfully) but this post made me smile at first, thinking about your beautiful daughter in heaven – and then it made me cry. I guess it is good that the smile came first 🙂 I just celebrated my son Jonathan’s 2 year angel day on March 1st. I still can’t wrap my arms around the fact that he is gone. I never forgot the wonderful email you sent me about your journey thru grief. At the time I was so numb and in shock, I read your words without really getting it. Now that 2 years have gone by, I actually reread some of my emails from those first few months and saw them with different eyes. I remember reading a quote from VP Joe Biden, after he lost his wife and one year old daughter in a car accident (back in the early 70s): “There will come a day, I promise you, and your parents, as well, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye”. I think I am finally getting to that point. Jonathan was my only child so my hopes and dreams of watching him get married, having children, etc….those dreams are gone. But I smile now whenever someone mentions him to me – smiel before I cry. And that feels like a huge step to me.

    Thank you again – you will never know what your email meant to me. Happy 6th birthday Cora! You are loved beyond measure – and I love your beautiful rocks.

    xxoo – DianeReplyCancel

  • Sarah D. - Oh my, I feel like I could’ve written this same post word for word. 🙂 We may have to borrow your rock idea. I’m thankful for you! xoReplyCancel

  • Jackie - You have created a beautiful tradition that will forever be cherished I’m sure by your family. Much love and prayers for you and your family, may you forever be blessed.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ann - I’m sure Cora thought the rocks were perfect and she felt your love every minute of the day on Wednesday. March is a bittersweet month for me: my anniversary was Wednesday March 5, it would have been 38 years for me and my darling husband; his birthday was Sunday March 9th, it would have been his 60th; and my beloved mother passed away on March 23rd, 5 years ago. Those milestones are hard for me but I can’t imagine how hard it is for you and your husband without your precious beautiful Cora. I feel so blessed to know that our Savior died for us and atoned for our sins but also that He was resurrected and lives and so shall we. We will be together with all our family on that perfect day. Until then…life will try and test us but life will also bring beautiful memorable happy days where living and moving forward will all be worth it. Thanks for sharing a bit of your day that your honored your princess. I love the pictures…your boys are so darling.ReplyCancel

  • ranee - love this post. my oldest will be turning six in april, and i can’t imagine the heartache you must feel, but love the way you honor her life and the God who created her. thanks for sharing and prayers for you!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - Love the adorable hearts for your sweet girl and love that the boys have these traditions for their sissy. Hugs to you and your cuties.ReplyCancel

  • amber - Thinking about you guys as you miss your beautiful girl. Happy 6th birthday sweet Cora! That girl is gonna have one huge line in heaven waiting to squeeze her. What a beautiful reunion that will be. Praying the pain this side of heaven is a little less today. Thank you for sharing your sweet family with all of us. And for reminding us to be grateful no matter the circumstance.ReplyCancel

  • Donna - What a great way to celebrate your precious girl’s birthday. A bit serious, and a bit fun. You are doing a great job of keeping her memory alive for her brothers. They will always cherish her, even though they have not met her yet. On a side note, how did you take such awesome photos in a bowling alley??? Mine are always dark, blurry, and grainy.ReplyCancel

  • k&c's mom - Your blog was one of the first ones I ever started following about five years ago. I’ve prayed for you and your family so very often, and your brave journey through loss helped me through my own journey. I love that you are real, honest, and authentic, and that you follow hard after the Lord in all seasons. Blessings on you and your family. Thank you for sharing your heart and life with us… we are lives that are helped and changed by your beautiful spirit.ReplyCancel

  • tara - i know i’m going to cry before i ever read this post … every single year. but thank you so much for sharing with us all. i think that rocks are precious and i hope you’re still posting about all those rocks in fourteen years.ReplyCancel

  • Amie - There are no words….. You all are never far from our hearts and prayers!
    Always sending you lots of love and hugs….ReplyCancel

  • Nicole Marlett - I have never left you a comment before, to be honest I rarely comment on other people’s blogs, even though I write one of my own.

    Many years ago I came across your blog after reading about your daughter’s life, somewhere I can’t recall. You see, our daughters would be the same age (they are 4 days apart in age), and our daughters were both given, very different, devastating diagnoses. Off and on I have flowed your blog praying for you from afar and being inspired by your faith.

    I am not sure I would have ever left you a comment until I read this post. I fell lead to just reach out to you, as someone who has experienced the unthinkable. Our sweet sweet Lucy Grace died on February 8th, 2014 after a lifelong battle with Mitochondrial Disease. When I saw this post and recognized that your sweet sweet Cora’s death anniversary was also February 8th, I felt compelled to reach out to you. I am sure you receive a number of comments daily as you write a beautiful blog. I just wanted to say that for some reason I feel that we are meant to connect. If nothing more than to say our girls are together in the most glorious of places, Heaven.ReplyCancel

  • Melinda - Hugs to you and your sweet family.ReplyCancel

  • tasha roe - i can’t believe it’s been 6 birthdays with out her! i have followed your blog since she was sick and remember my heart breaking for you guys when she went to heaven. i have admired your faith in all of this. it has really ministered to me and taught me to rely and seek The Lord for everything. Hugs!!ReplyCancel

  • Jules M - I love what you have done to celebrate Cora’s birthday. I hope that it all filled your hearts with a little extra love. I am going to make some of those rocks. My son brought a painted rock to Papa’s cemetery & we would laugh at how he would put it in a certain spot & then my mom would move it & then he would move it back. We would just watch as they would do this without words. They had no clue that the other was moving it but they both had a spot that they thought was perfect for it. I hope that they keep the rocks there. My dad’s get ‘cleaned up’ each year & we need to bring new ones. May you have moments of happiness with your memories. May you feel Cora’s presence because I’m sure that she can feel the love that you are sending to her. Hugs.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah W. - I’ve been a little absent from the blog world for a little while… This was such a sweet post about your day celebrating sweet Cora’s life. The rocks are beautiful and I loved all the images of your boys having such a great time bowling. Happy Birthday to Cora.ReplyCancel