I recently remembered a story I never have shared before. I was reminded why I chose the name Gifts of Everlee. And what that name has meant for me. For there have been many gifts and signs we have received. Little blessings letting us know as we carry Everlee in our hearts through this world she is still beside us. Letting us know our Father has not forgotten us and still embraces us through this storm.
He will cover you with his feathers and under His wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4
About this time a year ago, Jeremy and I decided to retreat to a beachside condo in Florida for some much needed rest and recovery. Those first few months after we lost Everlee were hard to say the least. Especially the brigade of multiple holidays that followed. I don’t know how we made it through but by some grace we did. We found ourselves in a state of mental exhaustion. Very much in need of some space to breathe, reconnect as a couple and refocus on the year ahead of us. I think by this time in our grief the shock and numbness was all worn off and the painful reality was setting in more and more.
I think Jeremy was struggling with the fact he felt like he hadn’t received any signs from Heaven from Everlee. I think the lack of connection towards her bothered him. As his right it should. Moms are given this great gift of carrying and growing our babies. Dads don’t get to experience that automatic connection like mothers do. I have witnessed the birth of these connections before with my other children. I’m not sure it fully registers with men until they are in their arms. I remember this very moment very vividly with Jeremy and Alice the day she was born. I could see it the second Jeremy held her, his whole world opened up new in that very moment. There was no denying that he was head over heels in love with that little girl. I literally felt like a saw a part of his heart being given over to her through a gentle embrace. Telling her through his eyes as he stared at Alice that he’ll love her forever and always. The past three years being able to witness that connection grow with Jeremy and Alice, father and daughter, has been one of my life’s greatest blessings.
My heart breaks that Jeremy wasn’t able share all the time with Everlee that he has been given with Alice. Jeremy has exceeded any picture I had of him as to how he would father his children. I got a glimpse of it what to expect through seeing him with his older daughter Jayda. But I have only been around since she was 12 and Jeremy wasn’t given the opportunity to be with her 100 percent of the time.
Jeremy is the type of dad that is present with Alice as soon as he walks through the doors after work. He prides himself in his ability to put her to bed the best, and he never takes time to himself till her eyes are shut and you know she’s drifting off to dreamland. He is always right down on the floor playing with her. Those two have had many treasure hunts together and adventures in far away troll lands and unicorn fields. I never worry about home when I’m gone because Alice is probably having more fun with Dad anyway. I have seen him rush to her side for multiple scratches and bumps. He takes the lead if there’s too much blood for moms squeamish stomach. He definitely is that girls Hero in life.
Jeremy, Alice and Evey. I know those three would make quite a threesome if Everlee was here. My heart breaks that I have had just one moment in my lifetime to see those three together. A total of two pictures. And a lifetime of wondering what roll Evey would play in their adventures.
I can’t speak for Jeremy but I could see the anguish he was plagued with those days we got with Everlee. I could see his heart exploding with love for her just the same as with Alice but conflicted and breaking inside with hurt too. For the very moment he was waiting for, that moment he would get to hold his new daughter in his arms and finally be able to declare his love was here but tainted nonetheless because it was a goodbye at the same time.
Some times I look at our little signs and gifts from heaven as a reminder, a reminder that our goodbye we said to Everlee isn’t permanent. Our lifetime here is simply one we get until the gates of heaven open to lead us to an eternal one with all our loved ones that left this earth sooner than us. A eternal life to hold Everlee in our arms as we dance in God’s grace and love.
Everlee found Jeremy in Florida that trip. She left a sign just for him. Maybe it was her way of playing a treasure hunt with daddy.
We had just picked up our morning coffee and found a nice white beach to relax on. Maybe fifteen minutes while sitting there later Jeremy found a fragment of a shell. Right underneath his foot. Like it wanted to be found. This fragment was perfectly shaped in the shape of an angel wing. I felt it right away, I said Evey is here with us and smiled. It only would feel right if she was, we had escaped to this spot to give our weary hearts a break and find some peace and joy. This felt like some joy that we were desperately searching for. I wrote Everlee’s name in a heart with the shell. Our angel on the beach with us that day.
I wrote Evey because Jeremy often calls her Evey versus Everlee and I know the sign was more for him than me. He needed it.
On our last day on that trip on a different beach Jeremy picked up a perfect match to our one angel wing. The other side. Another fragment meant to perfectly fit color and all. Two broken fragments to form a perfect vision of angel wings. I have those two side by side hanging in a picture downstairs now. Some may see two broken shells but to me it was Everlee reminding us she’s still here wherever we go, and a little miracle from God to remind us how He guides you and heals your heart piece by piece. Taking something that appears to be broken to form something beautiful.
I saw Jeremy’s heart open and heal a bit on those shores in Florida. It was one of the first times I witnessed him opening up to a complete stranger about Everlee, the daughter he lost. I was so proud in that moment knowing he had found a way to share the unseen bond he has with his daughter. Everlee’s story is just as much his to share as it is for me. And he had found that courage to be vulnerable with a stranger.
We found a new connection together by the sunsets we shared every evening there on the beach. Watching the sun slip down over the ocean changing the sky to brilliant shades of orange, red, pink and finally purple. Each sunset opening our eyes and allowing us to find beauty in this world again. Knowing that with each sunset a promise of a new day coming. Feeling how that message applied to our own journeys and broken hearts. Restoring our faith that rest is coming. And feeling Everlee close as we imagined Heaven is painted with those same brilliant hues we were gazing at. A glimpse into her home.
Everlee is just as lucky as Alice to have daddy like Jeremy. My girls are blessed. For I see Jeremy’s love wash over Alice everyday as he protects her and cares for her as she grows. And I see Jeremy’s love span from earth to heaven as he finds ways to send his love to Everlee too, by sharing her with that stranger, or finding her shells she left for him. By building her the most beautiful garden for her and her angel friends to enjoy.
Have Faith for signs will turn up anywhere and guide you to where you need to go.