Two days after her 10th birthday we went through every parent's nightmare, we lost our sweet, beautiful first-born. She passed peacefully in her sleep after deteriorating for the last couple years due to her congentital issues. It has still rocked our world off it's axis. The pain and emptyness has been all consuming, but we have an amazing community and so much family rallied around us.
We've taken a lot of walks on the farm the last couple weeks - you can see her final resting place from the fields - she can keep her eyes on the critters still. We've donated a lot of her specialty items for other kids that need them. We didn't cook for almost two weeks. We've cried. We've comforted others. We've cuddled new baby lambs. It doesn't bring Annika back, but it helps heal the soul. We're at peace knowing that she is up in heaven, eating ice cream, dancing, running, singing, doing everything up there that she couldn't do down here. But it still sucks. It probably always will suck.
Annika loved the animals. She's the reason we got sheep in the first place - we called her the Sheep Whisperer. She loved music and lights. She loved having commotion all around her. She loved the breeze on her face, blowing her hair around. She loved to take naps in the sunshine. She loved bonfires and fireworks. She loved looking up at the leaves on the trees. The last words she clung to before she lost speech several years ago were "moo" and "cat." We're going to remember her for all these things and not for the brain malformation and epilepsy. Her diagnoses didn't define her, we made sure of that.
These last 10 years have been the hardest and yet most rewarding decade of our lives. It's going to be rough for a while, but the world keeps turning and we have three more beautiful kiddos to raise. Thankfully we have a small army of helpers and we plan on being many more people's helpers in the future. So thank you to everyone who has reached out in the last couple weeks with gifts, food, hugs, thoughts and prayers. They've truly helped and have been appreciated more than anyone can imagine.
P.S. this is a guest post from Sam. Eric's been busy writing thank you notes.