Saying anything about her truth has never been easy for Abby. She’s always been a girl who’s kept her thoughts and words under tight lock and key. I worried about her constantly after Sophie went to Heaven. I knew she must be thinking and feeling things, but how would she ever communicate her brokeness to me or to anyone? Abby’s protected the memory of her Beloved Baby Sister like an armed guard. After all she was 5 years old when Sophie left. They were both so young. There have been times in the past 5 years where I’ve cradled Abby in my arms as her stored up tears began to flow and even during those times there were very little words exchanged just the steady stream of a broken heart. She hasn’t wanted to share the story of her precious Sophie with others. She told me it made her feel different, self-conscious around her peers, no one in her daily life had experienced this kind of tragedy. I understood that kind of different, I have not met many that have lost a small child either. I have also watched her struggle to connect with friends since then. Afraid to loose another important relationship in her life she remains at a distance by not becoming attached to others, afraid to feel that kind of love connection or that kind of pain again.
My worries were assuaged over time because she’s lived up to her namesake, My Father’s Joy. Abby’s radiated joy even when I knew her heart was completely shattered and all her sense of security disappeared in just a blink of an eye.
Maybe this was her defense mechanism? JOY…I suppose it could be worse. I’ve encountered many defense mechanisms in my life time, having a few of my own and I can’t say that one of them is JOY. None the less this seemed to be her happy place as she continues to walk through the valley of the shadows and it isn’t manufactured it literally pours out through her, a gift from God. I have never pushed her talk about her thoughts or feelings about Sophie and whenever she needed to let the tears flow I was there.
This year Abby is a 5th grader, 10 years old, a big girl, a tween!It’s been 5 years since Our Sweet Sophie went to Heaven. And this year Abby’s silence was broken of all places in the classroom surrounded by her peers. The class was tasked with a creative writing assignment, anything they wanted. What poured out of Abby was shocking to me and liberating for her. I was contacted by her teacher. She told me how moved she was by Abby’s assignment and asked me if she could submit her piece to a local writing contest. Excited to see this moving piece of work I consented. I had no idea what I was about to read…. (naturally I have added images to highlight her words.)
My Sister and I
The saddest day of my ten years was October 18, 2009 when my sweet baby sister, Sophie, died of Williams Syndrome. But, I don’t want to tell you about the sad times, I want to tell you about the happy times. The day my baby sister was born was the happiest day of my life.
As the years went by, the bond between us grew. We had so much fun together. We did many cool things too.
Sophie loved to dance. When she heard a song that had a good beat, she would BOOGIE!
I loved to play electronics with her, but it was hard for her with her syndrome. Her favorite thing to do was play in the mud. Sophie loved sticking her “passy” in the mud. She loved to follow me like she was my shadow. When I went anywhere she would follow me. For instance, when I came back from school she would run like the wind towards me.
After two and half years of fun and joy Sophie’s condition of Williams Syndrome got worse. She eventually died. She was a very big part of my life.
God has really been right beside me through the sad and happy times of my life. He was right there when Sophie was born and when she died. God has really made an impact in my life. I will never forget what He did for me.
God helped me when Sophie didn’t understand things she should; He gave me patience. He also helped me when she yelled at me. He gave me the self-control not to yell back.
God really helped me when Sophie died. He helped me keep a spirit of joy and not be sad all the time.
Say what??? Abby said it!!! Her feelings, her thoughts, her love poured out for all to read. I was so shocked and so proud of my big girl, the courage I know it took her to speak the words she’s been guarding in her heart for so long, sharing it with the world!
They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 51:11 What a truth, what a gift.
Abby fully walks in this gift. She knows in the midst of her pain that she has indescribable joy, especially when her circumstances have not been joyful. Abby knows this can only come from God.
Two days ago Abby received this letter in the mail. I could not be prouder of my big girl.
Thanks for sharing our wonderful girls!
Sent from my iPhone
What a proud moment for us all! God bless the Henkel family ❤