My husband is on a mission this summer to find as many fun, free, local, family friendly events as possible. He's added dozens to our calendar and we attend as many as we can. 

This weekend was a typical example. We had Family Day at UMLAF Sculpture Garden on the calendar.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go.

I felt like I needed to get the "Sunday things" done like grocery store, laundry, prep for week. All those little things that distract us from living our life. I almost lost sight of my priorities for a moment. At the last minute, I realized that spending time with loved ones is a top priority.  

I dropped everything and off we went.  To Family Day at UMLAF Sculpture Garden

No big thing, right?

As we walked through the entry there were kids everywhere. Balloon animals, cupcakes, ice sculptures, scavenger hunts...families.  Lots of families with small children. 

You might expect a bereaved mother and father to feel a gut punch when arriving at "Family Day."  Surprisingly, we found it energizing. We've always enjoyed being around kids and I think we always will.

We didn't expect what happened next.  

As we stepped past the entryway and into the gardens we were amazed at the natural beauty. A stream trickles through the garden into a pond where luscious plant life grows.  Tall trees surround you like a canopy shielding you from the rest of the world.  Peaking out from within the gardens are sculptures. 

As we moved further along the path, I saw it. 

The first of several. 

Mother and Child sculptures.   

I couldn't move, I stood still as my eyes filled with tears. I took a deep breathe. There in the distance was a reminder of what I would never have with Adeline.  The smiles, the play, the joyful moment where a mother and child interact. 

It all came rushing back. The pain. The sadness. 

The realization that she was missing from our "family day."

Now, I had a choice. I could sit with the pain and continue through the garden (not knowing what might come next nor if I could handle it).  Or I could run. Run as fast could. As far as I could. I wanted to run. 

I choose to stay. I moved slowly as to allow my heart time to recover after each piece. 

Frozen in time, one after another.  Mother and Child sculptures. 

Just as my memories of Adeline...frozen in time.  

A man I'll never met captured precious moments between a mother and her child that resonated with my heart and spoke to my soul.  Some of those moments, I'll never get to experience and that hurts but these sculptures reminded me that Adeline was present during our "family day." 

She did not miss a moment.  She was with us. Holding our hands, pushing us along, asking us to feel her presence.  She was experiencing the moment right alongside us.  Even though we could not see her, she was there. 

It's amazing how art can speak to a person.  I've never really been a true admirer of art. I've rarely found art that "speaks" to me.

After Adeline's passing I've experienced a transformation of my heart.  My heart feels more, it loves more, it's open to more.

Adeline left me with an open and exposed heart.

The walls around my heart have crumbled. You know the ones, the ones we build to protect ourselves. To keep all the hurt and pain away. What I learned today is those walls also keep the joy, the connection, the love at bay. 

My open heart allowed me to experience beauty and love in unexpected ways. To connect with people and things in ways I never could have expected. 

Because of Adeline, my heart is exposed and for that I am grateful. 

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