My middle child says, "We are a five family now!" She tells everyone she meets. Saying it with wonder. Excitement. And relief.
We are a five family now. A typical family. A dad, a mom, three kids.
We go to school, to church, to parks. My children don't always behave, so there's the occasional meltdown or argument. We look normal.
In public. In our pictures. We look average.
But behind those things are the real story. Our real family. It has eight children. Eight pregnancy and birth stories. Eight joyful announcements to my husband. And eight perfect names. Eight children, five of whom live in heaven and a memory box. Every picture, ultrasound video, hat, and poem....in that box. And every name recorded in our bible.
The whole experience has redefined my definition of family. Because beyond the children we have with us, and the children we lost, there are others...people who now exemplify family for me.
The friend who ignored us and came to Kasey's funeral - even though we said family only. He simply couldn't let us go through that alone.
The friend who answered every late night call - and never told me my tears were too much.
The women who have surrounded me with their own pregnancy and birth stories - and are willing to listen to mine.
My own mother. She held me when I thought I was broken.
People who hurt with us through our losses and rejoiced with us when Little Bit was born safely.
Family is not just people. Family are the ones there when you need them most. Family is LOVE.