I feel greatly honored to be able to write as a guest on Jessica’s blog. I was so excited when she told me she had started one. I truly believe the positive effects from this form of therapy and support. What an amazing tribute to Cayden and her short yet beautiful life.
My name is Heather and I was blessed to become Cayden’s non-biological Auntie. Jessica and I have been best friends since the moment we met in college at Virginia Wesleyan over ten years ago. We’ve shared so many important life moments and events together. Cayden, by far, is my favorite!
In all honesty, after Cayden was born, I was terrified to hold her. I had heard her heart beat and felt her move inside Jessica’s belly. She gripped and held my finger the day she was born, so small yet so strong. But I was beyond scared to pick her up! It was so silly and I still can’t believe myself to this day. I had never held a baby in my life and I was so afraid of breaking my best friends newborn. Two months after Cayden was born, Jessica and Brenton laughing and joking with me, thrust her into my arms…finally! I was so awkward and afraid, but they were so trusting and sure of me. And it was easy! I don’t know what I was so afraid of. She just laid so calm in my stiff arms as we looked at each other. Looking down at her, I saw so much of my future and life changing in that instant.
After that moment, I could not wait to hold her again. She was the best lil snuggler and would just so casually crawl into my lap at any time…even with both hands full of a giant watermelon slice and her face covered with sticky fruit. But I didn’t care, I loved her in my arms. Before Cayden could really talk, she would simply tug on my pant leg or skirt to be lifted up and held. As she got older, she would sprint towards me and leap into my arms for a very massive (yet tiny because she only weighed about 20 pounds! haha) hug. Anyone who knew Cayden would definitely say her hugs were the absolute best.
I always think back and remember one day in particular. In late November, once the excitement of Thanksgiving was over and Christmas was kicking into gear, Jessica and I talked about doing some fun family Christmas pictures. We dressed up the boys and Cadybug and dragged them out into the cold at dusk to set up for our mediocre photo shoot. After a very successful and rushed session, the five of us head off to our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Taco Loco. We ate and laughed with Cayden being the center of attention and entertaining us as always with her singing and hysterical personality. At one point during all of our silliness, she kept jumping and throwing herself into Jessica’s arms. She would clutch around her neck so tight and kissing all over her face. It was hilarious and so sweet! Then she went around the table and did the same thing with Brenton… jumping in his arms and kissing all over his face. Then Jim. Then myself. 🙂 We laughed in astonishment at how overly affectionate she was being and individually loving on us all.
Once dinner was over, Jessica, Brenton, Cayden and myself walked outside and waited on a bench for Jim to finish inside. As many may know, picture-taking is a constant joy in the Smith household. So as we sat on the bench waiting for Jim, we tried to take a few pictures with Cayden. Shockingly… She wouldn’t let us! NOT until Jim was out there and we were all together! As soon as Jim came outside, we asked some patrons if they wouldn’t mind taking our picture, and we all crammed together for a group “family” picture. You cant help but clearly see the love, happiness, and excitement in every one of our faces in that picture.
We hugged and kissed goodbye, not ever thinking or possibly imagining that would be the last time Jim and I would hug our sweet angel. Looking back now, it’s easy to get caught up in the pain and sorrow of the memory. But instead, we remember how this perfect 3-year-old little girl took her time that night and made sure each one of us knew how much she loved us. The most thoughtful and affectionate actions…from a three-year old. She truly had the purest heart and loved so deeply for those close to her. I miss my sweet bug every minute of the day. I am so grateful for each moment spent with her and the love shared. Cayden has opened my eyes to a greater love I never knew existed and a better way to view life.
So please, slow down. Stop and really see those you love around you. Hug them, kiss them, tell them you love them. So many times we rush out the door or off the phone without those affectionate words or actions. ❤