Saturday, April 24, 2010

In Honor of You (Lily's Celebration of Life Service)

Dear Lily girl, we had a service in your honor on Friday evening, March 26th. It was in Crozet, Virginia at your Great-Aunt Nana's home. I wish you could see how much you have affected people. How much you have affected me. How so many people love and adore you. I'm so proud to be your mommy. Why would God choose me to carry someone as wonderful as you?

I was so glad to see how many people came to honor your life. God had has such beautiful purposes for your life. I think people are starting to see how valuable each life is to Him because of you. It matters not how short or long one lives.

It was really important to me that the service not feel like a "funeral," but rather a celebration of LIFE. Because we have the hope of Eternity in Heaven with you. It was so special to have the service in the home where your grandmother grew up and where your aunt, uncle, and cousin still live. It is right in my hometown of Crozet and is right up the road from where you are buried.

We set up a lovely display area with pictures of you, cards for you, my pregnant Willow Tree figurine that your grandmother gave me, your handprints and footprints, and your tiny casket with roses and lilies on top. Your little white casket was sitting inside your green Moses basket on the windowsill. Oh, I love that Moses basket so much. It was one of the first things we bought for you, my baby. There was also a photo album with your 3D/4D ultrasound pictures and a little album of pictures of me pregnant and some pictures with you.

Our family friends, the Kirchmans, gave us this bleeding heart plant - which is so perfectly symbolic. I am planning on planting that in your memorial garden. The Gathrights gave us a lily plant.

A family friend, Kathy, made a very special journal for me because of you. She gave it to me while I was pregnant. Jeremiah 29:11 is on the cover. I liked it so much, I decided to use it as the guest book! I wish you could see all the beautiful things people wrote just for you. You would feel so special. Well, you are! Kala decorated the inside really pretty for me.

I chose three songs in honor of you. Two of the songs I found on Jonathan's Journey. And the other song, my dear friend Ruby shared with me. They truly capture exactly the way I feel in these first few weeks of walking through this world without you. I hope people saw a little bit more of my heart because of these songs. I hope they saw a little bit more of who you are and what you mean to me. I feel God even orchestrated me finding these songs for this very special occasion. The songs were "I Will Carry You," by Selah, "Your Hands," by JJ Heller, and an instrumental piece called "Childhood Memories."

Everyone mingled and talked for a couple hours. Lots of people brought food and drinks. I didn't feel like eating anything. I had to go upstairs for a few minutes to collect myself. Somehow, every time I saw someone new, I just couldn't hold back my tears. Kala came upstairs to comfort me. She is such a good friend, little Lily. We talk about you all the time. And she loves you too. It's because of your life that our friendship is restored. Thank you for all that you've done in my life and the lives of countless others. Kala was there at the hospital too. She held you. I'm so glad she got the chance to. Not many people did get to hold you. But, we shall hold you in our hearts forever, even if not in our arms.

Kala, Uncle Tim, Bumma (your great-grandmother), mom, and I all shared...

I didn't think I could share anything, little girl. I didn't think I could keep the tears from falling. I never know when they will start up, what words will trigger them. Sometimes, they start without a single reason why. But, guess what! God gave me the words to write to you, the words to share and I somehow knew in my heart that He would also give me the strength to read them. He provided everything I needed...of course He did. He always does. But, you already know that. You play with Him every day. He tells you of His promises and His enduring love and supernatural strength. You know far more about life and love than I could ever know while on this Earth. What a special girl you are, my love.

Here is the letter I read aloud to you at your service:
Dear Lily,
My little love. My constant companion. My precious flower. You whispered goodbye before I had the chance to say hello. I'm left with a bruised heart and shaken dreams. Empty arms desperate to be filled with you. When I heard those words, those dreadful words, that your heart was no longer beating, it was like I was suffocating. I keep having to remind myself to breathe...Why is it so hard to breathe?! 
I couldn't cry at first...I was just shocked. My world was shattered. Crumbling around me. Somehow the physical pain didn't seem to matter much anymore. You went straight from my womb to the arms of Jesus. Why did you have to go? Doesn't He know I need you here? Doesn't He know that you're my world? And yet life goes on. I still hear laughter. The moon still rises and the sun still sets. But, I won't forget. Even when I smile, thoughts of you are always dancing in the back of my mind. Shouldn't the whole world just stop? Mine has. How does the wind still blow? Doesn't it know you aren't here?
Oh, the plans I had for your life. All the things I wanted to show you. To teach you. I longed for the day you would finally fill all those clothes that are just for you. I waited and waited to see that beautiful, toothless smile I'd imagined so many times before. The way your eyes would sparkle. I would rock you for hours and softly sing sweet lullabies in your ear. I can't help thinking of all that could have been. All that was meant to be. You should be at home in your Moses basket now, not in that little white box.
What will life be like when what should have been your firsts come? Your first 'mama,' your first grin, your first giggle when you see me coming to get you out of your crib in the morning, your first tooth, the first time you'd crawl and walk. Your first Christmas and how your eyes would light up with all the beautiful lights and decorations. Your first birthday and how you'd get cake all over your special birthday dress. Your first trip to the beach and mountains. As the months pass, I will wonder how you might have looked, growing so fast. Would your hair be curly? Who would you look like? Would you be talking yet? Walking yet? All that could have been, should have been. Yet, it will never be. This ache in my heart will remain because I'll never get to see all these firsts...and seconds and thirds. I'll never get to see my baby girl turn into a beautiful lady. I'll never get to hold her baby. Parents should never have to bury their children. That's not how it should be. It seems so unnatural.
My little blessing from Heaven, blue skies turned to gray when you slipped away. A piece of my heart left with you. Sometimes it feels like people are already forgetting you. But, I won't forget. So, don't feel like you're missing out on all the fun. Because wherever I go, there you'll be too.
My sweet, sweet baby, you have changed me forever. You have left a footprint on many hearts. Someone so tiny has accomplished so much! More than a lot of people do in a lifetime. How precious you are to God! And to me! In a matter of months, I went from looking at you as a burden to loving you more than I ever thought I could love anyone. My world was built around you. Now, I can't imagine the rest of my life without you by my side.
I miss every little thing about you and everything that reminds me of you. I don't want to forget a thing. Feeling you kicking in the middle of the night, joking about you, talking to you, calling you by your nicknames (Spud, Lily Kat, lilliputian, lilykins, L.O., Lily Kate,) hearing your sweet heart beat, seeing your chubby cheeks on the ultrasound screen, and being so amazed as I saw God form you inside of me. My belly grew as my love for you grew. I even miss waking up a thousand times every night for nine months to go to the bathroom and waddling around like a penguin. It's funny how all these things that used to annoy me are now the things I long to experience again. Just the comfort of knowing you were inside me - living, growing, the safest place you could be. You were always with me, always protected.
God's hand was on you while you were in my womb. He saved you and you saved me. Thank you. I want the world to know how wonderful you are! The beautiful legacy you leave behind will never be forgotten. YOU will never be forgotten, precious Lily. My love, you are so pure, so precious, so tiny, so perfect. When I held you in my arms I had a taste of something truly divine. Such a sweet spirit. When I looked into your face, I saw the face of my Jesus. I glimpsed Eternity. I am so blessed to have known you. You will never have to know this world marred with pain and sin. You will forever be pure and innocent. Spotless. I am proud to call you my child. Proud that God would choose me to carry you! A princess.
For now, I will have to hold onto the memories of you. The bittersweet memories of your little button nose, your little fingers and toes. How perfect you were. Every last detail of you just right. I will cherish these memories forever. For now, I'll have to hold onto the little keepsakes - the journal I wrote for you, your precious footprints and hand prints, pictures. They are not enough, but will have to do...for now. Because I know one day I will meet you at the gates of Heaven. Will you wait for me there? On that day, my Jesus will place you in my arms and I will finally be able to hold you, sing to you, smell your sweet baby smell, and look into your lovely blue eyes. Until then, I know He'll take good care of you. Until then, I will cling to the One who holds the world in His hands. Thank you for changing my life. I will never forget you little one, my precious angel, who was simply too beautiful for earth.
Kala wrote this on Lily's birthday - March 16th, after spending the day in the hospital with our family. She shared it at the service:
March 16th, 2010 was one of the worst days I’ve seen. Lily Katherine, a precious darling due March 14th was born dead. Of course Lily’s chosen life and pre-destined death was God’s plan all along, for she was never meant for this world, but betrothed to the King before her birth. But, how were they to know? How could we have known about March 16th? I sat in that room as she waited to deliver the body of her child, who was already waiting for her in the Kingdom. I saw the faces of the ones I love so dearly. I felt the pain of desperation and loss, but felt the presence of God as He moved through the room. I never knew I'd want to feel God like this. God gave me Job earlier this week. And I sat in that room as she waited, and I clung to the Bible like I had nothing else to help me live. Like if I didn’t, I would break. And I cried. And I read Job. And I cried again. And I was praying to my God, our God, to give me strength if they didn’t have any. But they did, and we did. But they will need much more in the days and weeks and months and years to come. How could we have known about March 16th? She delivered Lily Katherine, and I held her for the first and last time. Her little face never experienced the pain of a fallen world. She never had the chance to cry. But her mother never got the chance to hear her, to look into her wondrous eyes, to see her smile. She lay there, limp and lifeless. Her eyes shut tight, and her mouth rested slightly open. Her lips dark purple, and getting darker as the hours passed. But somehow it was not hard to see God in the face of her child, His child. How could we have known about March 16th? 
This is the letter your Great-Uncle Tim read to me aloud at your service:
Dear Hannah Rose,
On Wednesday, March 17th, I dropped Thomas off at his bus stop in Waynesboro, as is our custom. I called Ellie to let her know we had a safe trip over the mountain. As I finished our conversation, I turned east on the Interstate, as I headed to work in Charlottesville. I am often blessed to see the sunrise over the mountains on my drive. It was a few minutes before the sun rose and I noticed a golden column of sunlight. As I drove through the mountains, I saw the golden column several times. When I crossed the top of the mountain, I could now see the sun in its entirety. I thought the brilliance of the sun would make the golden column disappear, but it didn't. The golden column continued to be positioned above the sun as I drove down the mountain. Perhaps this display could be explained by a slightly overcast sky. As a believer, I know I was seeing a host of angels lifting Lily up to Heaven.
We lift you up to your Father in Heaven. We pray for your healing and healing for your family. We will rejoice on the day you are holding Lily again in Heaven. The Lord knew she was too perfect for this world.
Love, Tim, Ellie and Thomas (your uncle, aunt, and cousin)
The drawing Uncle Tim included with his card

Read the letter that my grandmother read on behalf of my mother aloud at Lily's service HERE.

It was such a beautiful service. There were lots of tears shed. 

It was so wonderful to see everyone gathering around to hear about you, talk about you, honor you. Lots of family members and friends came. I will forever hold dear the memories from that night. God made it very special for me. Tell Him thank you for making the few memories I have of you so spectacular!

You have changed me forever, sweet girl. Know that I will never, ever forget you. I will always miss you. Always love you. There will always be a hole in my heart because you aren't here with me. But, I know you're with Jesus, and that brings me great joy! Every one I meet will always know about you. How you changed me. How you changed my life. Your siblings will always know they have a big sister named Lily. No matter how old I get, I will cherish your life and the memories I have of you. You will forever be a part of me, no matter where I go. No matter what happens next, you'll always be my little girl. Always.

"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." -Helen Keller



  1. Your words touched my heart. Your Lily will always be remembered and loved. In time you will see even more people affected by her life. Even those you meet in the future and hear of her life through your words will be affected by Lily. I love the guestbook its beautiful and her little moses basket.

    love and prayers

  2. I'm so glad you had a nice service for your Lily. She has touched and will continue to touch many people's lives. (((HUGS)))

  3. This is such a great idea! I think I might do something like this to remember Kylie.

  4. Everything was so beautiful for her.


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