Today is Sophia’s 5th Angel Birthday – exactly five years ago tonight, she died. I’ve been searching and searching these past few weeks trying to find something to honor her memory and acknowledge how much has changed in the past five years. A balloon release? A dinner with the family? A trip to the pumpkin patch? Nothing seemed quite right and I went to bed last night feeling a little sad that today was going to be even harder.

But then, as it has happened every year on this day, things just seemed to work out. We woke up to find a statue of an angel reading to a little baby in our front yard (still can’t figure out who put it there!) Then we had an impromptu breakfast with my mom where she gave us a bright pink Angel food cake. I received calls and Facebook messages and all sorts of signs that people were thinking of us and of Sophia.

We were sitting in a restaurant for lunch when Chris asked me if I thought I might like to ride “the rollercoaster” again. In case you don’t remember or didn’t know, four years ago I wrote a story called Rollercoasting. It was a story about being in the Mall of America just days after Sophia had died. On a whim, I decided to ride a rollercoaster with my out-of-town aunts. I had been so numb and in such shock that I rode this rollercoaster just to feel something – even if it was fear.

At first I said no way to Chris’s suggestion that I do it again. I am absolutely terrified of rollercoasters – I hate them in fact.

But I couldn’t get Chris’s suggestion out of my head all afternoon. There was something about taking on this rollercoaster that seemed like the right thing to do today.

So, dear readers, I rode that rollercoaster again today! And, as I had hoped, I had a revelation while doing so.

Life can really suck sometimes. And sometimes you just have to close your eyes, grit your teeth, grunt or even scream. But you get through it. Sometimes your stomach will drop out and you’ll feel sick to your stomach. Sometimes the speed with which things change can make you want to scream “JUST STOP!” And sometimes you need to “go it alone” with your loved ones cheering you on rather than being right there with you.

But, other times, you’ll soar. The wind will whip through your hair. You’ll feel almost weightless. The speed will be invigorating and the adrenaline and nerves will push you to new heights. You’ll grip the safety bar and hold on for dear life, trying to just enjoy the ride.

I looked at Chris and my three kids’ faces when I got off the rollercoaster. And what I saw in each of their eyes was pride. For my kids, pride that their mommy had accomplished this amazing feat of bravery. For Chris, pride that I’ve come so far since the last time I rode it.

So what I’d like to say on this very special day, is that I’m not healed. I will never be healed or recovered or all better. I will never have a day when I don’t think about my sweet Sophia. I will never forget her and I will always try to find ways to honor her short life.

No, I am not healed or recovered or all better.

But I’m not stuck.

I am moving forward.

Just like that rollercoaster.