I’ve spent the last two days in a somewhat melancholy mood that I’ve been trying my best to shake off.

Whenever one of my kiddos gets a minor owie, I’ll hear the other stinkers yelling to them…”just shake it off! Shake it off and you’ll feel a lot better!” Of course, it’s usually because they caused the owie to happen and they want the other kiddo to stop crying so that they won’t end up getting in trouble. It usually works though, so I’m gonna be a smart mama and try to take their advice.

Since I’ve taken a bigger interest in photography, I’ve tried to spend a little bit of time each morning browsing through different photography blogs to try to learn new things that will hopefully improve my own photography. I’ll usually look through that blogger’s current post and then skip everything else and instead backtrack all the way back to when their blog began to see how their work was when they first started blogging compared to how they are now. I’m not sure if it’s made my photography any better, but it’s been kind of fun to see how other people blog, work, love and live.

Several weeks ago, I happened upon the blog of an amazing photographer in Australia and I (like I usually do) backtracked to the beginning of her blog and read a little bit about her family and her children. Her website stuck in my mind because of her beautiful work, but also because she introduced her four children at the beginning of her blog and I remembered thinking “here’s another crazy couple like us that decided to have a bunch of kids!”

Two days ago, I just happened to click on her blog again and was met with these words…”When we chose Ava’s casket…”

And I literally felt my heart stop for a moment as I recalled that I had been to her website several weeks before and when she had introduced her children, one of them was named Ava. And I remembered that all of her children had been very young, reminding me so much of my own little ones. And all I could think was “no, no…NO. Please let this not be true.”

I read a lot more of her blog that day than I had originally intended to, and learned about the horrible tragedy that struck their home and I wept for a family I will never meet.

Reading through her blog that day led me to another family that had also endured the unimaginable loss of their child. Then yesterday, I somehow was led to yet another website where I read about a young man whose wife (and mother of their four children) is losing her battle with cancer and he writes about his thoughts and feelings as he struggles through what looks like will be their final days together.

And it’s hard not to just think “why?” It is all so not-understandable to me.

Then life, as it tends to do, caught up with me and I had to log off the computer and spend quite a bit of time doing my chores for the day…cleaning up the kid’s rooms (yikes!) and their bathroom (double-yikes!!) Our daughter, Weslea, is especially what I would consider to be a major messy-bessie. Her room is always a disaster zone and it, quite frankly, just ticks me off everytime I go in there and find an incredible mess that I know I’m going to need to help her through. It’s usually guaranteed that she is going to receive a full-blown lecture from me when she returns home from school about the value of keeping her room clean (as in, you will be safe from harm my dear Weslea if you keep your room clean because then your mother won’t end up blowing a gasket!)

As I was cleaning her room yesterday though, I just sat there and thought “thank you God that I still have the opportunity to clean her room.” For the first time in probably ever, I joyfully cleaned her room for her.

The thought of losing one of my kids and the reality that their room would probably become almost like a shrine to them is just completely beyond my imagination. I pray with all my heart that it is something that I will never have to live through. Later that day, when Weslea returned home from school it didn’t take her long to realize that her room looked quite a bit different from the way she had left it. She ran over to me, gave me a huge hug and yelled “thank you mom for cleaning my room!” and I put all lectures out of my mind and just said “I love you, Wessie-girl.”

I’m not saying that all lectures will be gone forever (the girl does need to learn how to keep her room clean!), but in the long scheme of things….who cares? She’ll learn to keep her room clean eventually…I know that I somehow learned the value of a clean room, and I can guarantee that my mom probably wanted to have heart failure half the time she walked into my childhood space.

My goal in my mind is to try to remember daily the words that I read on that first photography website that I went to. You’ll get so much more out of her words if you read them from her website, but she was basically describing what her idea of utopia would be and here is what she wrote:

“It’s no surprise that my utopia, my every wish granted would just be: To have Ava.”

And it makes me realize that I am so incredibly blessed to be living my utopia right now…I have my four beautiful children, I have my husband who loves me as I am, I have both of my loving parents, and I have all of my crazy, wonderful siblings. I truly am blessed and thank God for it.