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My Precious Angel Part Two
My brother, my dad, and I were at a family get together with Uncle Todd, the youngest of Grandma and Grandpa’s children, Aunt Karen, my dad’s folks (Grandma and Grandpa), and my dad. My Aunt with her husband, Uncle Scott, and her children (Matthew and Lacey) were playing together. Aunt Karen looked up at the rest of the family and said, “The doctor said that Lacey didn’t need to wear her oxygen mask when she’s awake any more!”
There was a chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs” from around the room at our house in which we were holding the little get together. Aunt Karen was glowing as she announced the news. There were congratulations passed around the room to Lacey and her adoring, beautiful family.
“Hey, Aunt Karen, Can I hold Lacey for a few minutes?” I couldn’t resist the urge to ask her. I loved Baby Lacey too much not to feel her in my arms just once during the reunion.
“Grandma’s got her. You have to ask her,” Aunt Karen leaned her head towards mine with a secretive, teasing look on her face. “Although, I’m not sure she will even let me have her back!” We laughed together for a few moments. Turning away, I headed towards Grandma.
I never got to hold her that day, Now, I regret that I didn’t. It hurts so much to think about the times that I missed with that special little girl.
I turned from the tank of oxygen. I exited Lacey’s room and slumped to the kitchen to find some of my family sitting at the table and others leaning on the counter with their heads down. I couldn’t bear to see Matthew that day. It would tear the rest of what was still left of my heart out of my chest.
Days later from when the awful new of Lacey’s death was told, the visitation was scheduled. My mom drove me and my brother to Evergreen Funeral Home where the visitation was held. The hardest thing to see is a baby lying cold and lifeless in a casket.
The hardest thing to do in my life was to witness a precious baby girl not responding to the touch of their loved ones. The hardest thing in my life was to see my baby cousin not look up at her mother and smile at her. The hardest thing in my life was to witness the sight of that baby girl looking like a porcelain doll, so real but so…so dead.
I bent down to that small little frame and kissed the top of her head. Her dirty blond hair rubbed softly along my face. I looked at her face through the tears in my eyes and bid her a farewell. “I’ll see you in Heaven, my precious angel.”
A couple days later from Lacey’s visitation, the funeral took place in the chapel of Southeast Christian Church. I went with Mammaw (my mom’s mom), my dad, my mom, and my brother. I could not dry my tears the whole time the funeral took place. I never wanted to know how Lacey had died. Aunt Karen filled the crowd if family and friends in on how she died, whether they wanted to know or not.
“Our Lacey pulled her oxygen mask off during the night. She may have died, but that little girl will always live on. She will live on in our hearts, souls, and minds forever.” Aunt Karen had tears running down her face and so did a wide majority of the audience.
Afterwards, we piled into our cars and in a small grave site, our Lacey was buried. Aunt Karen told me something I will remember for the rest of my life. “Shelby?” Aunt Karen came to me and said, “Lacey Nicole was name after you.” My aunt gave me a watery smile.
“What?” I looked at her with confusion probably written all over my face.
“Lacey has your middle name as hers. She was named after you because she was a miracle baby, just as you were a miracle coming into this word so early. She survived when the odds were against her. She may not have survived as long as you have, but none-the-less she made it through.” Aunt Karen’s voice cracked. “ I want you to have anything from here you want.”
The first thing that I picked was a little pink bear. It was soft and plush and smelled like roses. On its left foot it said, “Baby’s First Bear.” I hugged it close to my heart. It looked into its shiny, black eyes. They contained hope for me. They told me I was able to move forward and they told me I didn’t have to dwell on the past.
Looking in those hazel eyes, I held her close one last time to my body. She gave me a toothless baby smile and stretched her arms over her head. She cooed in delight as I tickled her baby feet. Laughing with glee and love, I put her in her mother’s out stretched arms. I kissed her on the cheek. She tasted of flowers and love. Her skin rubbed soft and warm beneath my lips.
I said good bye to everyone there. Baby Lacey cooed once more in my presence. She was the happiest baby I could ever imagine there being. Smiling relentlessly, I started through the door to the car that was waiting for passengers to enter. All the way home, I day dreamt for what the future may hold for that gleeful baby who lived in a house full of love, life, and happiness.
Everything good and bad that happens in life reflected in that baby’s eyes. Looking back now, I see everything, the good, the bad, and everything in between. In everything that happens in life, in one way or another, there will be a happy ending. Lacey taught me that, with the experiences, the look in her eyes, and the silent words she screamed out to the world, for all to hear.
I looked at the bear I now call “Rose,” and see my little Lacey. I see…my precious angel.