The Fall Colors came…But the Sunshine Went Away

Let me introduce you to the color in my life.

Her name is Shaylee.

My brother and his wife were pregnant with her when they got married. When she was born we all fell in love, pretty instantly. She was so full of personality even as a baby. She developed a little crush on my boyfriend at the early age of about 8 months. It was cute to watch her flirt with him, leaning toward him, fluttering her eyelashes at him and smiling at him from across the table. He couldn’t believe that such a little girl could have such a big personality.

She let everyone know that she was in charge. She saw all other children as babies and herself as big enough to take care of them. She literally brought so much sunshine into our lives. My seventeen year old little sister became something of a mom to her as she was her nanny. The whole family got to benefit as she was at the house all day every day. She kept us laughing with her funny little antics. She would tip her head back and say “Nice” in a long drawn out lazy kind of voice. She would say sorry for everything. If she hurt herself and cried, when you picked her up to hold her she would say “sorry, sorry”

She would spin in a circle and giggle when she couldn’t stay standing. Shaylee sang and danced and head bobbed, She was everybody’s sweetheart.

One day she woke me by coming into my room and sitting on top of me in bed. Once I was awake she went to my chair where I had put my clothes when I undressed the night before and picked up my bra. She looked at it for a minute and said, “What’s this huh?” Then she put it on her head like a hat and started dancing around the room.

She is fascinated with clocks and will take you by the hand and lead you around the house looking for all the “crocks”

She knows exactly where grandma keeps her chocolate. She will go to the office and peek into the cupboard and say “grandma…crockit?”

One day she was playing and wanting alot of attention. My little sister, Esther, was starting to get a little annoyed with her, so when she came in the kitchen where Esther was and started pulling on her and saying “Etu, Etu, Etu” (her version of Esther) Esther turned to her and said “WHAT!” Shaylee puckered up her lips and said “Tiss”

She is very sensitive to moods and will often climb up on your lap and say “Happy?”

She has mastered the surprised face, the happy face, and the mad face and will do them whenever you ask her. She loves swings and gets so excited when she knows you are going to the park. She loves cats and dogs and animals of all kinds. She is fearless when it comes to water and will go down the water slide at her grandparents house and into the pool all by herself and always comes up laughing.

She loves brooms and will be perfectly happy sweeping the floor.

My brother and his wife are now divorced. She lives in Idaho and he lives here. Shaylee left to go live with her mother last week. It was really hard to see her go. We will probably not see her for some time. How do you say goodbye to a little girl like that and let her go without breaking down?

How do you even explain to her what is happening and how do you have any confidence that she will be taken care of, that her needs will be met, that she will live a happy, healthy, life. In reality you can’t. You can try, you can hope, you can even pray, but in the end you are powerless.

I found this out when I was 18 and went through a similar situation with another niece. I learned how to let go and realize that if I loved her for one minute, that was one minute more than she might have had and I had to be happy with that. I realized that if she had stability, affection, safety, and an environment where all her needs where met for a year that was one year that she might not have had. In the end I had to realize that I can’t control her life, I can’t control her future, and I can’t control her decisions or the decisions her parents make.

So how do you say goodbye? I still don’t know but I can tell you how we did. We took her for a picnic in the mountains to see the fall colors. We let her run up and down trails with my sisters and I following close behind enjoying her antics and her happiness.

We sang her favorite song with her. A song that took on a whole new meaning for us.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

You make me happy, when skies are gray,

you’ll never know dear how much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

As we enjoyed the brilliant reds, pinks and every possible shade of green and orange, I couldn’t help but think about how fitting it was for the day.

Fall signals the end of an era. Summer with all of its fun, and warmth has gone. It was wonderful while it lasted but it’s time for something else. I know it will be wonderful too. I know the brilliant white of the freshly fallen snow will dazzle me just as the fall colors are doing now. The circle of life continues, and somehow we all move along with it. We smile, we laugh and we just keep going.

We tried to soak in the last minutes with Shaylee. I held her while she slept and treasured the feel of her in my arms. Then I kissed her and let her go.

“The other night dear, as I lay sleeping

I dreamed I held you in my arms

But when I woke up I was mistaken

and I hung my head and I cried.”

We love you Shaylee!

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