This time last week, we were en route to the city that will always hold a piece of our hearts. For me – if Emmy “is” anywhere this side of heaven – it’s Chicago. And of all the things that little girl brought into our family, the tradition of this trip has to be one of my favorites.
For me, Chicago feels strangely like home. It’s where we spent weeks planning for and protecting the two little lives God had entrusted us with. It’s where we watched those two little lives come into this world, one of them only for a day . It’s the only place on earth we were ever physically a family of four. For us, it’s a place that holds the very best and the very worst life has to offer – but each year that we make this trip, we’re adding to the “very best” category. And that feels so good.
I’m not sure why I’ve never written about these trips before – if for nothing else at least as a way to look back. So now, I’m packaging three years into one.
On each trip we try to do something new, with our adventures based loosely off the book Max Explores Chicago that we bought (and started) while we were “living” there. But, we also have our traditions within the tradition…our mainstay stops…the ones that are gut wrenching and soul shaking, but also peace providing. The people and the places and the things that take us back to the way we were before we were broken in this way – before we knew life as bereaved parents.
We always visit the hospital where the girls were born and Lurie Children’s Hospital where Emmy lived the duration of her short life under the most incredible medical care we could have hoped for. There is something about just being in that place that makes me feel so close to her. It could just be the memories. It could be my imagination. Or it could be a God thing. Whatever it is…she’s there.
Lurie Children’s Hospital 2016
Lurie Children’s Hospital 2017
Lurie Children’s Hospital 2018
Lurie Children’s Hospital – Aquarium 2017
Lurie Children’s Hospital – Aquarium 2018
And of course, right around the corner from the hospital is our favorite donut shop, Stan’s (Chicago was really into the donut thing when we were there)…
Stan’s Donuts 2016
Stan’s Donuts 2017
Stan’s Donuts 2018
Nom, Nom, Nom
We typically try to hit a Cubs game, because that’s something we did with the girls (and it may be the only thing that keeps daddy tagging along)…
Cubs Game 2016
Cubs Game 2018 (Oh hey there, BOB!)
And there is always, always time set aside for a visit with our favorite neonatologist on earth, Dr. Meghan. My attachment to her my seem unusual, as she was the first doctor too look me in the eyes and tell me the likelihood of “Baby A” surviving was slim to none. Up to that point, it was like no one had been brave enough to say it out loud. It broke me. But in some ways, I needed to be broken. She encouraged us to start thinking about the best thing for “Baby B” as not to jeopardize her wellbeing. But then she learned their names. And she heard our story. And as the days turned into weeks and we made it further into the pregnancy than anyone thought we would, she and her team began fighting for both of our girls. They provided options and information and most of all – hope. And in the end, she carried the devastation of loosing Emmy right along with us. To this day, she shows love and compassion to both of our girls and has become so much more than just a doctor.
Starbucks with Dr. Meghan 2016
Playing in the park with Dr. Meghan 2018
A daddy/daughter snapshot always makes the “best of” list. On these trips I do tend to make some space for myself to just be alone and breathe. It’s what I need, but it also gives these two some unique opportunities to bond in ways they might not otherwise. It’s truly a win-win for us.
Lexi & Daddy Cubs Game 2016
Lexi & Daddy Post-Cubs Game 2016
Lexi & Daddy Do-Rite Donuts 2017
Lexi & Daddy Navy Pier 2017
Lexi & Daddy Cubs Game 2018
And of course, there is lots of family bonding time and some prime opportunities for family selfies, too…
Cubs Game 2016
Navy Pier Centennial Wheel 2017 (clearly Lexi is impressed…)
Gino’s East 2018 (Favorite Pizza in Chicago!)
And our trip always ends in the same same way (in the best way) with everyone exhausted, but our family cup overflowing until we can do it all again in the next year…
Snoozing on the way to the airport 2016
Snoozing on the way to the airport 2017
(You will just have to trust me that this was her exact position on the way to the airport this year as well…I am literally kicking myself for not snapping that shot!)
So, as they say…This Is Us. It’s us allowing ourselves to experience and re-experience the best and worst parts of our story. It’s us allowing ourselves the grace and the space away from everyday life to remember. It’s just…us.
Thanks for continuing to give me grace in sharing our story, as I continue learning how to give that grace back…