This friend had her healthy first child on March 16, 2010 - Lily's exact birthday! I've blogged about it before. Sadly, not only do we have that date in common now...
As I said, her mom wrote me on Tuesday, the 16th of August, letting me know that my friend had lost her baby... Ryleigh Grace was unexpectedly stillborn the day before, on August 15th... Life for Lily Day. Yet another significant date we have in common. And baby girls who now live with Jesus.
Ryleigh was born just shy of 38 weeks gestation, a beautiful little girl with her cord tied tightly around her neck.
Both my friend and her mom thought of me and hoped I could talk on the phone, knowing I understand what they're going through. I told her I was deeply sorry for their loss and not only could I talk on the phone, but I also "happened" to be in town (remember, I live in NC now, away from my hometown and where Lily is layed to rest).
I see how the Lord orchestrated my being there at that time, to put together a comfort box for this mother and to attend Ryleigh's service with my grandmother, who also lost a baby.
I wasn't able to put together the exact type of box I usually do (because some of the things have to be ordered online), but it ended up being quite special, I think. We had a day to prepare the box, so Bumma and I went around Charlottesville to different shops, collecting items. I was thankful Bumma was willing and eager to be a part of this. I'll explain more about what we included in the box below.
The service was beautiful and it was an honor to be there. Ryleigh was layed to rest in the same cemetery as my grandparents (dad's parents). There are rolling hills and breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountain views from this cemetery. Ryleigh's mommy wrote a moving poem that was read aloud at the service. It was the first service for a baby that I've been to since Lily's (that I can recall). It was definitely emotional for me. Of course it is heartbreaking when anyone loses their baby, but when it is someone I know, it hurts more.
I know that because of my own loss of Lily, I understand in a deeper and fuller way the heartbreak that infant loss entails, and therefore can pray and intercede for this family in a unique way. I keep bringing this family to the Lord, remembering the rawness and shock of those first days and weeks after Lily died. I pray that I am able to bear a little bit of their burden.
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." -Galatians 6:2
After the service, there was a meal at a church in the area. I was glad Bumma and I could talk some with them, both at the graveside service and at the church afterwards, in a way that only those who've lost a baby can converse. We were all discussing how crazy it is all the similarities between our stories... The Lord certainly orchestrates the details and weaves stories together in a way only He can. I will continue to keep in contact with them in the months ahead, especially when a lot of the initial support wears off, yet the pain of the loss remains.
Here is the box...
I knew right when I thought about putting together a box that I wanted to include something with Ryleigh's name and birthdate on it. When you lose a baby, those are some of the only things connected to them. Their names are sacred and unspeakably precious. They are a reminder that they are real and they were here. They will always be our children, who we will love and call by name.
As soon as I thought of getting something with her name, I believe the Lord placed my friend Cambry's name in my heart. She is my friend I shared about recently in my Life for Lily Day post. We met at Ellerslie in Colorado last year and discovered she lives near my hometown in Virginia. She had just come to the Life for Lily Day celebration the day before, and we had gotten together to frolic about in downtown Staunton that day. Cambry is a talented artist and sells some of her work at times. I asked if she'd be willing to paint a custom piece for my friend for the box and immediately, she graciously and willingly said yes. I love her generous heart. She had one day to paint this and then met with me the morning of the service to give it to me. I could tell my friend loved the painting and so did everyone she showed it to. I like this picture Cambry took in her own personal outdoor art studio. ;)
Most of the items for the box were from Ten Thousand Villages or T.J. Maxx (a couple of my favorite stores). I stuck to a butterfly theme, as usual. :) The box was colorful with butterflies and flowers, perfect to store keepsakes in.
a butterfly card with a handwritten and signed note from my grandmother and I... with my blog card inside and an explanation of all the items in the box
a lamb (for innocence and purity) to hold in their empty arms
and a teddy bear for big brother
Forget-Me-Not flower seeds to plant in memory of the baby they'll never forget
a butterfly bracelet to wear in remembrance of Ryleigh
a "hope" stone, as a tangible reminder to hold onto hope
lavender and chamomile (both known to be calming and soothing)
soap and bubble bath to pamper mom and help her heal
chamomile lavender tea to also pamper mom
a journal to write pregnancy memories, the birth story, letters or poems, feelings, etc.
(writing means so much to me and has been a huge part of my healing and my friend likes to write too - remember a poem she wrote was read aloud at the service).. I was glad I found the journal with Scripture on each page and butterflies on the cover that I used in the comfort boxes
given to the hospital for Lily's birthday this year.
a candle to light in remembrance of Ryleigh
a packet of tissues for their tears
a butterfly wind-chime (made in Indonesia - Lily has the same one at her spot)
for their home or Ryleigh's spot... my friend was saying how at the service, she was
already thinking of wanting to decorate her spot. I thought the wind-chime would be
perfect... also, it is touching that a mother's instinct to do something for her child, even
if it's decorating their gravesite, kicks in fast
I won't forget you, Ryleigh... I will hold onto your obituary, the bulletin from your service, the memory of your beautiful face, and the knowledge of the forever love your family will have for you.