Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dear Olivia

Olivia Rose Engel, 6, left Sandy Hook Elementary school and joined the angels in Heaven on December 14, 2012.
Born July 18, 2006 at Danbury Hospital to Shannon (Merlino) and Brian Engel, Olivia brought immediate joy to all those around her with her ever-present smile and adorably infectious giggle. Quickly growing from a happy, bouncing baby who clung tightly to her stuffed lamb into an enthusiastic, loving little girl who always wanted to do and see more, Olivia's zest for life began early. With help from her adoring parents, she quickly developed an affinity for all things fun. On any given afternoon, one could just as easily find Olivia twirling in a pink tutu in dance class, developing her swing on the tennis court, kicking the winning soccer goal, drawing, painting and gluing things in art class, or honing her inner songstress in her community musical theater class. The budding swimmer also loved to join her dad or grandpa on their boats, so she could explore the world from the water.
As Olivia continued to grow, she developed a love and affinity for math and reading, arts and crafts, and her parish. Participating in her church's CCD program and leading the family's Grace each evening were sources of great pride for Olivia, as was being a big sister. Ever patient, Olivia took joy in helping her three-year-old brother Brayden explore the world she'd grown to love. This smart, bubbly NY Yankee fan and Daisy Girl Scout would instantly light up a room with her humor, charm, and wit. She was a sweet and appreciative six-year-old with a lot to live for. Her physical loss will deeply be felt every day by those who loved her most, but her sparkly spirit will live on forever.

Olivia Engel Obituary, taken from Legacy.

As soon as the names and pictures were released of the Sandy Hook victims, my mind could not stop thinking about Olivia Engel. I think a lot of us have had one victim stick in our minds. I pray for all the families multiple times a day, but Olivia...she's special. Maybe because her interests and little personality remind me so much of Rory and myself. Maybe for no reason at all. But Olivia Engel is special to me. I had to write to her, pour my heart out a little, put in to words the thoughts my mind has replayed for days now. Pray for the victims and when you do, say their names. They were people, individuals and they deserve that last bit of respect.

Dear Olivia,

My name is Kate...well if we knew each other in "real life," you'd probably call me Miss Kate. That seems to be the only way a 6 year old knows how to address me. :)
On Monday, your name was brought in to my life. I've been praying for you ever since. I can't imagine how scared you were on Friday, how you clung to your friends and how you prayed yourself. Everything I hear about you states how much you loved your church and that, my dear, is amazing! I'm so glad that you are playing and dancing in Heaven with Jesus. I'm sure He was standing there, waiting for you, your friends and teachers to come through the gates. You know, in the Bible it says that when we get to heaven, we won't remember the tears, the pain, the sickness, the bad days...I believe this to be true and that gives me comfort when I think about you.

Olivia, you have changed my life. My mind drifts to your mom and dad so often. It's allowed me to be quicker to anger with my own kids, take a little extra time to do a craft or sing a second song at bed time. In some ways, Olivia, what you went through has reminded me of something I forget all too often: life is short but sweet for certain. (Dave Matthews said that. You would have learned about him and loved him in college...just like every other North Eastern-ner kid I know...myself included. :)) Your mommy and daddy didn't have enough time with you. It's a fact.  A million days with you would not have been enough. You moving on to heaven has reminded me that each day, each hour, each minute with Rory and Trace is a gift. I can't take it for granted. I need to savor each day I am given and tuck it away in my heart.

It's hard to understand what happened. Lots of people are asking why God would allow something so awful to occur. I'm not going to pretend to know the answer. I'm going to chose to learn my lessons from what happened and by doing that, live on. You live on every time I watch my first graders dance in clas. Each time they twirl in their tutus the way you loved to, you live on. You live on when I teach Rory a new song or Trace sits through a church service without crying. You live on every time I choose, purposefully and intentionally, to not take my kids for granted. An extra marshmallow or a few M&M's, coloring time instead of paying bills, a game of hide and seek, a prayer...when I choose joy and choose taking time to make memories, you, tiny dancer, live on.

Look down from heaven at us sometime. I guarantee listening to Rory sing her grace or Trace trashing his room during "naptime" will make you giggle. Give my Grammie a hug for me. Heaven is a wonderful place and I can't wait to meet you there someday. Thank you for changing my life.

Dance on angel!
Love, Kate


Natalie said...

I'm crying over your sweet words to this little angel.
The ages of these babies are what has affected me so, very much. I can't look at the news and not think of the fact it could've been Jolie's class. They are the same age in fact. Some of which, I would bet, share the same birthdays.
I listen to my own first grader sit in her room singing Christmas carols and playing dolls and I know that those sweet babies should've been doing the same things this holiday season.
Life certainly is short, but sweet for certain (a quote I used on my wedding programs b/c we both adore DMB).

Rhe Christine said...

This is so beautiful. Thank you for writing this. I'm so happy to have found your blog :)

I too am a post-partum survivor!
Rheanna @ Cammo Style Love