Remembering Kalkidan Year 3

This morning we are quiet.

In the early hours, Russ and I sat together, coffee mugs in hands, talking and sharing tears. Year three of remembering the day we lost Kalkidan.

Today marks the most traumatic event we’ve ever experienced while also marking the day Kalkidan ran into the loving arms of Jesus.

Life is marked by the “befores and afters.” My 53 years seem to be divided this way: before and after I fully gave my life to Jesus, before and after Russ and I married and started our family, before and after we adopted our children from Ethiopia, and before and after the accident that nearly took my life and took our daughter’s.

Each of these events changed me profoundly.

Like deep grooves carved into wood, the changes are permanent. Some of theĀ carvings were intentional and beautiful, others unexpected gashes deep below the surface. But like the wood of our dining room table, those scratches and marks are a picture of my life.

I’m glad our table doesn’t have a pristine surface; it reflects thousands of dinners, hundreds of gatherings, loved guests, hard conversations, long hours of work, and countless celebrations.

I’m not sure fancy, pretty tables are all that useful or welcoming.

In an unexplainable way, I’m thankful I was in the accident with Russ and Kalkidan. Experiencing the trauma, the memories, and the pain togetherĀ binds us. Many marriages end in divorce following the loss of a child. In all honesty, this has been very hard on us and we have held on by threads at times, but today I feel hopeful and solid.

Tonight we’ll celebrate Kalkidan as a family by going to the trampoline park (which she would have loved) and out for dinner where we’ll eat spicy food.

Grief is a strange beast. At year one I felt confused, shocked, and fearful at every turn. At year two I felt deeply sad with shock and fear entwined. At year three, I feel sad while also wanting to help my family celebrate Kalkidan’s life.

Just a few weeks ago I was making our bed and the thought flitted through my mind, “I’m a mom who has lost a child,” as if it were the first time I’d realized it. Then recognition and reality set in.

So many of you grew to love her without ever meeting her in person. You prayed for her. You shared our joys and sorrows. Many of you wept when you heard the news of our accident.

Thank you for walking with us through the valley of grief, for continuing to pray for us, for your love and support. Remember to love your people well with an open heart.

(p.s. A special note of gratitude to Isaiah’s friend who recently found these photos and shared them with us – the sweetest of gifts.)

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRIĀ® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

24 Comments

  1. Paula
    December 27, 2017

    I think of her often. She burned very brightly and touched many lives. Iā€™m offering a long distance hug as you celebrate and mourn your beautiful girl,

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      She was very special. Thank you, Paula.

      Reply
  2. Chantel Austin
    December 27, 2017

    I’m so blessed to have known Kalkidan even just a little. I will never forget that summer at church camp when I got to know her and Beza. It seems like yesterday…. I will be praying for your family today as you celebrate her life.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      So sweet to hear from you, Chantel. Thank you for your prayers.

      Reply
  3. Leslie Woodfill
    December 27, 2017

    She lives in my heart.
    I was honored to meet her.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      Thank you, Leslie. We’re so thankful for the memories you helped us create. That little Mary Poppins dress is hanging in my closet.

      Reply
  4. Beth
    December 27, 2017

    Her story, your story, made such a difference in our lives, and particularly the life of our daughter. Without the story of Kalkidan’s life, we might not have had the strength to help our daughter find the healing she needed. When I look at my daughter, I think of yours so often, and today of all days send thoughts and prayers, and gratitude.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      Beth, it means so much to know our story helped your family. Thank you.

      Reply
  5. Lisa
    December 27, 2017

    We do not know each other’s families in person, but I have felt very connected to you in this past year through your writing and realize how many things we share. You have been on my heart all week, even early Christmas morning. You have encouraged me so much and spoke truth into my life. I felt impressed upon to encourage you- even though we are ” distant friends.” I was preparing to write you a note. After discovering this anniversary date know that you are loved by your Heavenly Father and that He sees you and your heart.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      I love the way the Lord connects us across the miles and even without meeting in person. This is the “fellowship of the saints” – to be prayed for and supported by friends like you.

      Reply
  6. Alaina
    December 27, 2017

    I cannot believe that it has been 3 years already. I distinctly and sharply remember reading the news and feeling my heart break. Thank you for continuing to tell the truth of your story of loss – it is such a gift. I will take today to remember Kalkidan’s life. I’m even wearing orange socks today, what a coincidence!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      Love the orange, Alaina. Thank you for encouraging me to write.

      Reply
  7. Tisha
    December 27, 2017

    A beautiful girl with a beautiful family. Lots of love to you today. ā¤ļø

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      Thank you, Tisha. Loving the pics of your family on Instagram.

      Reply
  8. Chris
    December 27, 2017

    I thought they were pictures I had never seen before on your blog. They are lovely, and yes, a real gift. My thoughts are with you this season. We have never met, but after reading your words for 4 years, I feel like I have hugged you in person. Love your transparency and how you willingly share of your life. Blessings to you as you celebrate your daughter’s life with your special family outing.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      December 27, 2017

      Thank you, Chris. I love the way we are connected even if we’ve never met. And thanks for the virtual hug.

      Reply
  9. Marlene
    December 27, 2017

    Sending a hug from afar. Thank you for sharing your lives with us so well. Our Ethiopian daughter has been home almost 8 years now and I started reading your blog while we waited and continued as we struggled. And then you lost your precious daughter, as I was losing my sweet daddy, and your grieving words touched me as well. Your words of strength and sadness, joy and hope have been such an encouragement to me and for that I continue to be grateful.

    Reply
  10. Kara
    December 27, 2017

    I wish we could have met face to face when you were with her in Omaha for EMDR. You are in my heart and prayers, dear sister.

    Reply
  11. Emily and Ben
    December 27, 2017

    We love you so much and we love and miss Kalkidan with you. I wish Matthew could have met her- I know she would have been great with him. We love you guys and are praying for you and remembering her today and always.

    Reply
  12. Angie
    December 27, 2017

    Love you friend. Its amazing how many lives have been touched by Kalkidan and your family’s openess. I remember how i wanted to contact you for advice & connection. The day i did you were on your way to Montana with Kalkidan. Im so glad i made the call and made a new friend and truly learned how being transparent in the middle of “messy” can bring redemption and healing to a family. Prayers and love sent your way.

    Reply
  13. Daisy Correa
    December 28, 2017

    Lisa,

    Know that I will always pray for you and your family during this time. I am one of those people who grew to love Kalkidan through your stories and your familyā€™s love for her! Thank you for sharing, your writings bless my heart in many ways. Even though we are miles apart and we havenā€™t seen each other since Hannah was but 3, I feel as if I have kept in touch with you through your writings! You have a beautiful family here on earth and also in Heaven. I look forward to one day meeting Kalkidan in Heaven and giving her a big hug!

    Sending hugs to you and Russ,
    Daisy Correa

    Reply
  14. Sarah Pulliam
    December 28, 2017

    Yes it is hard to believe three years have passed; how profound it is that it takes three years for enough healing to objectively reflect on being a mother who has lost a child to death. Grief really is a long valley through which we journey, with a varying landscape but deep chasms cut by what is moving within us. I love your metaphor of the family table, it resonates because I have been wishing for a bigger table, that can gather more people. But getting a new one or refinishing our existing one would hide all those painting projects, pet scratches, forgot to use a cutting board incidents, and rings where we had hot chocolate. I’m not ready to do that! Objects are more beautiful with weathering and use, just like us!

    Reply
  15. DFNY
    December 28, 2017

    Thinking of you and your family as you remember your beautiful Kalkidan. There are many of us who feel we knew her because of your words and photos. We accompany you in your grief…
    Hugs,
    Damaris

    Reply
  16. Alison Grant
    December 29, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your journey and the lessons you have learned. When we can walk alongside one another in authenticity – yes, on the hilltops, but especially through the valleys where we can uphold one another in prayer and in practical ways – we can truly learn from one another and grow closer to our loving Father. I am praying for continued healing in your hearts and minds, and for joy to fill in the crevices where grief has been residing. Sending a hug along with this note. You are loved.

    Reply

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