Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Butterfly Relased for Lily

A beautiful Monarch Butterfly was released for Lily by Jaxon, Colin, and Courtney's mommy, Rachel, from Triplet Butterfly Wings.

"For every time I've wanted to hold you tight, may a butterfly take flight."


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Prints on my Heart

I finally scanned Lily's hand and footprints to share. The lady that scanned them cut off some of her hands, which makes me sad. But, here they are. My precious daughter's tiny hands and feet. Each time I look at them, I am amazed that someone can be that small.



Monday, June 21, 2010

It's all I'll ever have

Hesitantly, I ventured into the space that belongs to her. Everywhere I look, there are screaming reminders of what could have been, the dreams that died that stormy March day. Today was the second time since Lily left this world that I was brave enough to go in there. And the only reason I did was because I wanted to find the little outfit she wore at the hospital and the matching blanket she was swaddled in, to add to my Lily chest. I've been desperately wanting a place to keep all my sacred keepsakes, all the things that remind me of her. And today I found it. I found the most perfect memory chest to house all my most beloved possessions. If there were a fire, it would be the first thing I would grab. I've wanted a concrete place to keep these things, but didn't quite know where to find it or how much it would cost. At GoodWill, of all places, there it awaited me. $23.71. That's what I paid for something so precious. It is exactly the way I envisioned it (pictures to come) and her things fit in there like a glove. The chest was just made for me.

I have everything in there that I want, everything that is, except for her hospital outfit and blanket. I know I must go upstairs to search for it, but I've been too afraid to go in there. 

The instant I walk in, my entire mood shifts. Gloomy, sad, lonely. My heart is heavy as I look around at all the decorations my mom and I had so meticulously figured out the placement of. The bright color scheme no longer seems exciting and cheery, but dark and somber. The paintings on the wall of a child and her mother, the crib, the dresser. I peek in each drawer and recognize all the tiny outfits that we had so enjoyed picking out and it rips my heart out knowing she never got to wear those tiny clothes that she would have already outgrown. I couldn't bear to take those outfits out and look at them. I'm not quite ready to face that dream that was snatched away so soon. I look in the closet where mom had created the "changing station." The pink walls surround the fully stocked changing table, with everything from Burt's Bees diaper cream and diapers, to kitten baby towels. It was all ready to go, now it just sits untouched, unused, unnoticed. Time seems to be frozen to a time before March 16th, when life was happy and I was full of hope. My green diaper bag that I got for free at LifeCare and matches perfectly with Lily's Moses basket sits at the foot of the changing table. Slowly, I unzip it, not knowing what I'll find. It's full of the things we packed to go to the hospital with. We had packed her bag and had it ready long before my own bag. After carefully examining which outfits Lily would look her best in, we made our selections. The only outfit left in there is pink. One of the other outfits that had been in there Lily had worn at the hospital and the other, she now wears buried beneath the earth. There are wipes, and newborn diapers, and coupons for baby items in that bag. Hanging in the closet is that darling pink dress, the one we picked out specifically for her to wear on my 21st birthday, this August 12th. And oh, it just hurts. I must get out of this room.

Then, it hit me. All the memories I will ever have of Lily can be stored in that tiny chest. Instead of a lifetime of memories, scrapbooks and clothes outgrown, what rests in that box is all I have. Instead of bins of barbie dolls and magazines from American Girl, I have a baby doll that waits in a crib for a little girl that will never come. Instead of a future of stories and laughter, I have merely memories of stories and laughter. Instead of hair cuts and braids, I have a small strand of her hair. Instead of scribbled papers that are priceless pieces of art in my eyes, I have papers that the hospital gave on how to deal with grief. Instead of a little girl presenting the news like her mommy did, saying things like, "George Washington had a very bad day today," I have an imagination that I use to try to picture how my little girl might have been. 

A lifetime of memories has to fit into that little chest. And it's not enough...it'll never be enough. But, it's all I have. And I cling to it.


Lily's Name Written with Blocks

Lily's name was written with blocks by Bodhi's mommy, Narelle, from Written With Blocks.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh, the irony

I used to spend my Tuesday evenings at LifeCare Pregnancy Center in Raleigh. It was routine...all day, we would look forward to going to see all our friends at class. Then, we would get Papa John's for dinner (at this point, they were having a special deal each week.) Then, off to LifeCare we would go. We met our dear friend Angela there. Now, I see Angela somewhere else. I see her amongst a group of men and women who have lost their children...at ParentCare, an infant loss support group. 

We went from a place that is all about life to a place that is all about death. And she did the opposite. Angela lost her daughter, Nala, in October 2008, due to an incompetent cervix. Then, on Easter Sunday this year, she gave birth to her healthy baby boy, Caiden. Her precious rainbow baby..born on Easter Sunday. What a special day to be born. And you know what...I couldn't be more happy for her. 

I've had a hard time with feeling bitter and jealous of women that have completely healthy babies, especially when I feel they take it for granted. But, I don't feel that way about Angela. I am so thankful she has her rainbow baby. I am so happy to hear of any woman have her rainbow baby. 

A couple of weeks ago, I held a baby for the first time since I held Lily. It was Caiden. It might have something to do with the fact that he's a boy, and also just how excited I am for Angela, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Angela knew what it would be like for me, having been through it herself, so it didn't feel awkward at all. She asked me if I wanted to hold him, not trying to force him in my arms. Mom did okay too...we were both nervous about how it would feel. She fed Caiden his bottle and held him for hours, thoroughly enjoying herself. I hope she gets to be a grandmother to a living child soon. She doesn't want anything else more.

It's a joke between Angela, my mom, and I that we are his "bonus grandma" and 'bonus auntie." We couldn't be more pleased to have those roles in his life. :)

The afternoon was spent catching up with Angela, talking openly about Lily and both of our experiences with losing our daughters, as well as what being pregnant was like after losing Nala. I held Caiden and admired his sweet little body. He fell right asleep in my arms, like he was totally comfortable with me...even though I felt quite tense at first. His little hand grasped firmly onto my finger. I thought of Lily and how she never got to do that. I pictured her tiny little fingers and toes. And the pain was mixed with joy. Pain because I never got to experience Lily like that...joy because of the hope I hold onto that one day I will have my own rainbow baby...that baby I will get to bring home and love on, snuggle with, and watch grow up. 

It felt so strange holding him, hearing him breathe, feeling his warmth, looking into his eyes, and feeling his little hand clutching tightly. It haunts me sometimes that I never knew Lily in that way. That's one of the hardest things for me...that I never saw her or held her with life within her. When I held her, she was already waiting for me in the Kingdom...and there she will wait.

holding a baby for the first time since Lily

the "bonus grandma"

Angela, Caiden and I

proud mommy with her precious rainbow baby


for those of you who don't know what to say or how to act

Most people don't know how to act to those who have lost babies. "What do I say or not say? Maybe if I don't say anything, she won't think of her baby...oh no, this makes me really nervous. I'm just going to quickly change the subject." I think anyone who has lost a baby can agree, that no matter what someone says or does, it is usually awkward for everyone involved. I won't even get into all the strange ways people have acted to me. That's why this online community of BL moms is so great. That's why I'm loving the online Bible study I'm participating in so much. (more about that later.) That's why I go to an infant loss support group twice a month...because these people get it, they've been where you are, they are there now, or they will be there. But, what about those that haven't lost a baby and don't truly understand what it's like...what about those people?

About a month ago, I stumbled across an article on Molly Piper's blog. You can read it by clicking here.

I sent the article to my friend, Kala. She was the one who came to the hospital on March 16th and was there for me and my family on that day, as well as during the days and weeks that followed. After I shared the article with her, she wrote me back. I want to share what she wrote because maybe, just maybe, it could help those people that don't know how to act to babyloss moms and dads. If you're wondering what to say or how to act to me, then this is for you.

"It's strange to cry and feel so much emotion in a place that seems so distant to your reality. And I can imagine that that's what you must feel everywhere you go, all the time. And like this posting, I pray you know that you don't have to feel that way with me. And even though we laugh and joke and speak of joyful things, Rose and her Lily are always there in the back of my mind. And you can say anything you want...you can scream and yell and cry and sob and laugh. You can speak nonsensical words and flow unfiltered thoughts freely. And I will stand beside you with the prayer that in some way doing just that will help to ease the weight you carry with you every day..."

You can check out Kala's blog by clicking here. She's got some encouraging stuff for anyone who is seeking to lead a set-apart life for Christ. Thank you, Kala, for 'getting it,' to the extent that you can. Thank you for being there for me, even when I don't make sense. 

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." ~Romans 12:15


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

3 months.

It's been three months today since we had to say goodbye to little Lily...for now at least.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For My Tears

I got a sweet package in the mail from Debby. I came across her ministry on the "Grieve Out Loud" website. She runs an organization called "For Your Tears." This is their mission statement:

"The mission of this organization is to send out a handkerchief to women who have recently lost a child. It is a way of sending comfort in their time of need, letting them know that we care and that they are not alone. There is no profit to be made in doing this."

If you have recently lost a child and would like to request a handkerchief for yourself or for a friend, visit the website.

This small thing has already brought me comfort. It is such a special, kind thing Debbie is doing for bereaved parents. Look how beautiful the handkerchief is... it is too pretty to actually use. I don't want it to be ruined, so am going to keep it as a keepsake.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Rachel Ross

Forty-five years ago today, which happens to be Flag Day, my aunt Rachel Ross was born. She was named Ross after Betsy Ross, the maker of our flag. Sadly, Rachel only lived three months, dying on an operating table at UVA as her doctor attempted to save her tiny, deformed heart.

I'm so glad to know Lily and Rachel are together. :)


Sunday, June 13, 2010

He put the air back into my lungs

I will carry you. Sweet baby girl. God has been giving me glimpses into the raw pain I was experiencing those first few days and weeks. And I realized...it's only by His grace that I've been getting through this. It's only by His grace that I haven't been feeling that excruciating, heart-wrenching agony that shook me to the depths of my soul.

I listen to the words to the song playing on my blog...I will carry you, while your heartbeats here. Long beyond the empty cradle, through the coming years. I will carry you, all my life. I will praise the One whose chosen me to carry you.

I did carry her all her life. I will carry her with me my entire life. The silence has brought me to His voice. And He's been carrying me. When I'm too weak to stand, let alone walk. He lifts me up over His shoulder, and carries me away to our secret place. 

Here's something from my journal that I've been wanting to share:

Sweet Lord,
I long to be set-apart for You alone. Look at all I've done. Everything in me tells me I'm helpless. Bound to the consequences this world throws my way. But, You tell me otherwise. I feel You whispering to me to let it all go. Fall at Your feet. Worship You. And everything else will work out. You will work it out...Against all odds, against everything the world tells me, You are my light and strength. My salvation. You fill me with good things. You make me want to be like You. To search Your heart. Know the depths of Your soul. Your inner-most being. You are the only beauty I've known. I thirst for Your truth. It's all that I want. All I desire. You are all that I need. All that I need! Make me willing to lay my life out for You, my Prince. To spend my life at Your feet, washing them with my tears. You fill me with these words. They spill out onto the page. Overflowing like honey. Such sweetness is on my lips when I sing praises to You. When my heart speaks into these pages, adoring you. I feel so weak. So sad. So lonely. I'm desperately hurting. But, I feel You there, longing to strengthen me, breathe Your life into me. Give me courage, unshakable confidence, true love. You give me an unspeakable joy and peace, amidst all the chaos and pain. I can't put words to this hope you've stirred within me. This passion that is like a fire in my heart and soul. You are changing me. Breaking me. Molding me. Remaking me. I see it in subtle ways and bigger ways. You long to draw near to me and for me to draw near to You, clinging to You. It's like You know my utter desperation for You. You realize my need for every part of who You are more than I realize it myself. You ignite me. Set a fire to my soul. You want to explore the depths of me. Of all that I am. And I want to, long to, dive into this bottomless ocean of You. Of who You are. Your mercy, love, grace, tenderness. I long to discover who it is You dream of me becoming. What beautiful dreams they must be. Oh, how you're comforting my heart. Soothing my soul. So much more than I could ask for. A mere half hour ago, I was extremely anxious. My heart was beating so fast, tears were welling in my eyes, everything was telling me to be afraid, not to trust You, to cling to my doubt, fear, and anxiety, rather than to You. But, You come to me, in Your ever-faithful, gentle, loving, tender way and whisper truth to every crevice of my inner-most being. I'm looking at things so much differently now. How far I've come in the past year. I was so utterly miserable, heartbroken. Mere words cannot begin to describe the agony my soul was facing. My spirit was gagging. Choking. Desperate. Oh, the desperation of it all. I was so used up, broken, spent. You felt a million miles away. I was as far in the east as You were to the west. And yet, You didn't leave me there. Oh, thank God You didn't leave me there. You wanted better for me, Your beloved bride, Your child, Your love. You fought for me. The chains that the world thought were impossible to break...you broke them. With tears in Your poet eyes and a fire in Your brave and beautiful soul, You took those chains in Your hands and with a Warrior's cry, broke them. Crushed them. Shattered them. Not into two pieces. But, into millions. You can't even tell what those chains were anymore. It's like they were never there. You make it so they were never there. And then You took me over Your shoulder and ran with me. Away to Your castle. I was so vulnerable. In Your strong arms, You delicately placed me down and looked at me so lovingly and adoringly. You nursed me. Nurtured me. I needed You. And You were there for me. You never left me. My Mighty Warrior-Poet! You fought for me! And won my heart. You conquered sin and death. Put the air back into my lungs. The blood into my veins. What great plans You have for me! How You want to bless my life. I hear You say: 'Don't let the world make you afraid. Cling to me. Let me comfort you. Whisper truth and love to you. I am only good. I only want what's best for you. I can defy the odds. I can overcome the world. I am greater than the world'...My sweet Jesus.


From Kathlyn's Mommy

This was created by Kathlyn's mommy, Beth.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thursday, June 10, 2010

From Nicole

This photo of Lily and I was edited with love by my friend, Nicole.


Lily in Vermont

Lily was honored in Vermont by Emma and Chase's mommy, Jill, from Vermont Angels.


New Life

A friend of the family shared this with me the weekend of Lily's memorial service:

Bob wrote, "After Tim shared, I thought I'd seen something wonderful around that time too. First flowers of Spring on March 16th." (Lily's birthday)

With the promise of spring, came the promise of Lily. Like the new life all around me bursting forth from the earth, Lily was new life. We wait. We anticipate. Spring and Lily, they came together. Now, spring will always remind me of the time Lily came...and went. Ahh, spring is so bittersweet. Lily came and because of her life, she brought me new life, changing my heart forever. Although she left so soon, I know she has eternal life.

What a sweet and beautiful God we serve, to give me such a glorious promise of life, on the most difficult day I've known.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Little One, My Dear One, My Love

My little, one, my dear one, my love,
you will be with me forever:
in the thin sunlight and long shadows
of a clear winter's day;
in the dawn excitement of birds
sounding in early spring;
in the rustle of heavy-leafed trees
in a mid-summer's night;
in the rich aromas and bright colours
of a warm autumn day.
All that is excellent,
brushed by Life's
brightness and shadow,
will remind me of you,
My little one, my dear one, my love.
You will beat with my heart,
see through my eyes,
hear with my ears,
feel on my skin.
Because your soul is mingled with my soul, forever,
My little one, my dear one, my love.

~Edward Searl


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Lily's Seashell

Lily's name was written on a seashell by Jay's mommy, Misty, from Heaven's Seashells. It was a nice surprise to come home to these pictures after my infant loss support group meeting last night. It brightened my mood.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

But a Vapor

Lily has been put to rest in Virginia, nearly 250 miles from where I lay my head each night. I knew I wanted her to be buried there, in my hometown, next to her great-aunt, great-grandfather, and great-great-grandparents. The place that I will most likely be buried one day. But I also knew how hard it would be not to be able to go visit her whenever I want. I have her things to remind me of her, but I can't go to a specified location and know she is there.

The miles separate us. The grave separates us. He reminds me, I am stronger than the grave. I overcame the grave. Yes.

Last month, for the first time since her funeral, I visited Lily where she rests deep within the earth. As we pulled into the cemetery, on a day much like it was the last time I was near her, chills went up my spine. At the entrance, it is marked 'Hillsboro Cemetery.' Upon seeing this, my heart skipped a beat. My breath caught in my throat as I attempted with all my might to fight back the tears. Tears that care not who is around. There is not a marking for Lily yet, so if one didn't know where to look, they wouldn't find where she is. The only trace left behind from that day in late March when my daughter was put into the earth, was the outline of where the dirt had been dug out. It couldn't have been more than two by four feet, silently telling all that will hear that who lays there was but a child. A child that left far before she should have. The hole was just wide enough to fit her Moses' basket. I wanted her to be cozy down there.

I'm sorry I can't be near you, dear baby. I'm sorry I can't come visit you like I want to. Oh, please know how much I long to.

How strange it seemed, knowing her body was several feet within the ground. My mind does not need to go to that place. I can't let it wonder to thoughts of her there. The last time she was alive was inside of me. It feels like something is missing in me. I wanted to dig her out of the earth, as fast as my hands and arms would work. I wanted to get her out of there, so she could breathe. So I could hold her. So she could be free. My silly flesh, playing tricks on me. She is free, He gently reminds me. That's not her. Just her earthly shell. She is safe at home, in the arms of Jesus. I sat silently. Still. Drinking in the presence of my Lord. He whispered quietly to my soul, Rest in me. She is with me, so stay with me. There you know you won't be far from her.

I'm sure you like the little lamb in the pink basket your great-grandmother left for you. I hope you also enjoy the Mountain Laurel we left for you, Lily. It was picked at Massanutten...remember you were there in October and I told you how the leaves were changing into the most beautiful of hues. I couldn't wait for you to see them yourself. You haven't seen anything yet, you laugh as you play in the sunshine with the Creator of all things good and lovely. Remain in my heart, little girl. I will always carry you there.

All flesh is grass, fading away.
Only You last, only You remain.
All flesh is grass, fading away.
Only You last, Only You remain...
the same, You never change.

Surely man is like the flower of the field,
And life is but a vapor, at best it's but a vapor.
Surely man is like a flower of the field,
And the fragrance but a vapor, at best it's but a vapor.

But, You O God,
are better than a thousand blooms.
-Misty Edwards


Lily's Name Gallery

This is a collection of pictures in honor and in memory of my precious flower, Lily Katherine. Check back periodically for updates!


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