As I sit on the dock and the sun is shining, I can’t help but feel nostalgic.
If I’m being honest with myself, I think the memories are flooding back
because our family faced an unthinkable loss in July of 2017. My 18-
year-old niece, Alex Sagriff, passed away and our life has forever
changed. I find as the date comes closer she is on my mind more than
usual. She was a little sister to her brothers, the youngest grandchild on
both sides, a beloved cousin, my daughter’s “person”, a best friend to
many, but most importantly, to her parents she was everything.
Nothing looks the same or feels the same since we lost her. I’ve spent a
lot of time thinking about what each day must be like for my brother
Jim, her mother Karen, and her brothers Ryan and Zack. I always try
and remind myself of what they must be feeling when I’m missing my
own kids. My son no longer lives at home and my daughter is in
university, living about two hours away.
I’ve thought about the way it used to be. The innocence of many family
summer vacations before. Then, our only worry was whether or not we
would have enough beds for everyone at the cottage. I’ve thought
about the summer nights when I couldn’t get my kids to sleep because
they were giggling up in the loft at the cottage. I’ve thought about their
pajamas, their silly pajamas with the characters on them that they
loved so much. The softness of the flannel when they’d crawl up on to
my lap for just one more story and then look up at me like I was the
only person in the world to say, “I love you Mommy!” I always thought
I had a good appreciation for moments and memories, but losing Alex
has made me realize that they are beyond precious, and more
importantly, they are fleeting.
The moments when your child loves you so unconditionally that you are
like a super hero to them, when you lock the door at night and take
comfort in the knowledge that everyone you love so dearly is under
your roof. All of those Christmas Eves when your kids carefully write
letters to Santa and lay out cookies convinced he’s starving by the time
he lands on their roof. The nights you finally get to bed, but first, take a
quick second to peek at them and feel your heart ache at the sight of
their faces on the pillow because you love them more than you can
begin to explain. Those moments that happen when you are beyond
tired, the moments that happen at the busiest time in your life, a time
when you long for sleep without the weight of the superhero cape.
I’m happy to have had the experience, but, lately there are times I want
to go back. I want to carry my kids on my hip and read them a story
until they fall asleep. I want to watch Alex put her head on her Daddy’s
shoulder without a care in the world, knowing their bond will last
forever. I want my eyes to burn because I’m so tried when my kids
wake me up at an ungodly hour to open their gifts. I want it back, I
want the innocence, I want the moments, and I want the simple life
with my kids before time and grief got in the way.
Alex left us so many gifts. One of the greatest for me is that she taught
me the value of a moment. So, for all of you who are feeling the weight
of your super hero cape, I’d like to share this with you.
Your days of wearing that cape are numbered. There will be a moment
when you’ll have to wake them up on Christmas morning because the
party the night before has taken priority over their presents. One day
the things that make you so tired will change. I assure you that one day
you’ll be able to sleep again, but you’ll long to wear that cape and feel
the sting of tired eyes. So, embrace tired when your babies are young,
it means your kids are consuming so much of your time because
nobody else can fill that space other than you. In honour of my
beautiful red headed, freckled face niece Alex, hold your babies in their
flannels, embrace the early mornings and be thankful for every
moment. I never understood the value of a moment until I realized
how much my brother longs for just one more. Embrace each one, and,
remember that tired means your life is so full of love that sleep will
come later. Today, I can honestly say that I’m well rested; yet, I long for
the days when my superhero cape made me so very tired.