I am a Christian.

I believe Jesus died and rose from the dead three days later for the ultimate sacrifice providing salvation in a life in heaven after death. A gift to be immensely grateful for and gives incredible joy.

With heart still daughter is in heaven without me and that’s a lot to process - still four years later. No more family photos, no Easter Sunday dress shopping with matching hat or shoes, no sibling races to hunt for eggs on the front lawn...this was something that was just starting, then ripped from my hopes and expectations for this holiday.

Heaven became very real when Rissa died. A realization that feels so far some days (especially on holidays) and a fear that I might not even get there...despite my faith; these fearful tendencies take over because I’m human, and thats on the list of crap we worry ourselves with, well, on the list my mind worries about.

Experiencing both emotions, gratitude and pain, so deeply causes a desire to withdraw simply because the contradiction between the two is extreme and one might assume it a neutralized state would take over but rather the opposite occurs. I see photos of families so full of happiness whether they believe in today’s Christian messsge or not. I’m so happy to see them!! So happy. How beautiful to see those smiling faces with arms wrapped around one another with baskets of goodies and consuming heaping handfuls of chocolates in formal wear! It’s just not the same for families with missing members - the missing bright eyes of Rissa.

I go on... wrote clues to hunt for his gift, bought the candy, filled and hid the plastic eggs, got out of bed, took photos, enjoyed homemade cinnamon rolls... but my heart still hurts.

Sometimes I wish grieving hearts could be seen on the outside. If they could but...we wouldn’t need to explain why our mouths smile but the eyes fill with tears, energy level depletes quickly and the hope for heaven expedites.

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