"For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." ~John 3:16
In my letter to Lily Katherine that I read at her memorial service on March 26th, 2010, I wrote this:
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.
Well, I've survived her first birthday without her. I've survived the whole month of March and I'm so glad for it to be over. The days leading up to her birthday were probably the hardest. The anticipation hurt so deep. Her birthday was filled with lots of tears. But, just as last year on March 16th, it was sorrow mixed with joy and I felt the presence of my Lord. We didn't have a big party or anything. I wanted it more intimate and honestly didn't have the energy to do much.
She was alive one moment, and the next she was gone...Still. One minute she was in the earthly realm, the next in the spiritual. He breathed the breath of life into her, and he took it away. He took her away. In the most beautiful way possible. It may sound strange for me to say that, but God has a way of bringing beauty to any and all things. He has a way of healing and restoring even the most broken of hearts.
My mom got me this beautiful Willow Tree to add to my growing collection. It's called "Beautiful Wishes." I've been wanting it for months since she is holding a bouquet of lilies and I love anything and everything that has to do with lilies.
My dear, sweet mother gave me flowers for Lily's birthday...roses and lilies of course. I was totally not expecting this, and couldn't help but cry.
The inside card read:
"For my Rose and Her Lily. Heaven holds your treasure and Jesus is rocking her until you arrive. Love, Mom"
And now I've dried out the flowers and they are on my desk in the bowl they came in.
I also dried out one of the flowers my sweet friend Sara left at Lily's burial site for her birthday.
I left a rose and lily there for my girl too.
My friend Sara from high-school sent me this message:
I just wanted to let you know that I have been praying for you this month. I tried to leave flowers on Lily's grave on Wednesday, but I couldn't seem to find it. I spent the whole time of searching praying and thinking of you. I know that nothing I say can make this easier for you, but I thought I'd let you know that I'm still praying for you and that if you need anything, I'm happy to help you in any way I can.
Sadly, Lily still doesn't have a marker, except for this little wind chime. After telling Sara where her marker was, she left beautiful flowers and a marker with her name on it! I wasn't able to visit Lily's grave on her actual birthday since it's in Virginia and I live in North Carolina, so this meant so much to me! But, that weekend of March 18th-March 21st, I was in Virginia for a family get-together and was able to visit Lily's grave and see the flowers!
Kala gave me this painting on Lily's birthday. Butterflies are really special to me, symbolizing resurrection, and my hope to meet my Jesus face to face and once again see my Lily. Butterflies disappear into a cocoon and appear dead, but emerge later far more beautiful and powerful than before.
Kala drew this picture for me and gave it to me on Lily's birthday.
I will treasure it always.
This is what Kala wrote inside this butterfly card she gave me:
In memory of Lily Katherine
A purpose far more beautiful than we can see.
One year gone, one year better because of her life. I didn't know weakness until I saw His strength in you. I didn't know beauty until I saw His plan for you. Today we celebrate God's redemptive plan to bring us home, by the gift He gave; your sweet Lily.
Cracker Barrel is my favorite restaurant. It's just so cozy there, sitting by the fire, chatting, sipping hot cocoa, or my favorite, raspberry sweet tea. mm mmm. I loved going there when I was pregnant with Lily, so I decided that's where I wanted to go for her birthday. My mom, sister, Kala, and I went and I liked it that way. Quiet and intimate.
At 4:24, we all sat quietly, remembering that minute last year on March 16th and how Lily was in my arms for the first time.
The cake we had for her was just perfect. Red velvet..mm mm delicious! We had red velvet cake at my baby shower, so we've decided to make it a tradition on her birthday to have red velvet cake. It will always remind me of my girl. From now on, I am going to ask friends and family to have a red velvet cake or a cupcake in honor of her each year on March 16th.
It says 3:16 on the top, Lily on the bottom, and has a rose in the middle :)
my sister, Emma, enjoying the cake
my dear friend, Kala
my darling Mother
chatting on the rocking chairs outside Cracker Barrel after our meal
Mom, sister, and I
My neighbor two houses down shares a birthday with Lily. She just turned eight on March 16th. It came up in casual conversation with my mom one day. So, we decided to take little Ashley a gift to honor Lily's birthday, since we can't get anything for her. Their family didn't know about Lily and we weren't going to mention it, but right when we took the gift over, they were surprised we remembered her birthday and said, "Oh, you must have someone in your family with that birthday." So we told her about our girl. She was so sweet about it and wrote in a thank you card:
Ashley has really enjoyed her birthday gifts. I'm glad she could bring happiness to your special day.
I would also like to sponsor an orphan girl born on the same day as Lily.
My cousin, Daniel, who is four months younger than me sent me this picture on Lily's birthday of his son, Owen, who was born three months before Lily. They would have been the best of buddies and cousins, just like Daniel and I were growing up. Such a sweet, thoughtful thing to do in honor of Lily Katherine. It means so much to me.
The lovely cards I received for Lily's birthday.
My darling grandmother (Bumma) wrote me a poem for Lily's birthday. She also lost a baby at three months old (number 7 of 7) forty-five years ago. She still attends Compassionate Friends meetings and I used to go with her before I ever even lost Lily. I've been once with her since Lily. You can read about that by clicking here. This is a picture of me, my grandmother, sister Emma, and cousins, Hope and Anna, taken March 20th, 2011.
Has it really been a year
Since our little one
Went from your womb to Heaven?
This year has been filled with grief
But also healing
Reaching deep into our souls.
Our emotions we've expressed
Tears will still surface
In the midst of His comfort.
Your comfort and assurance
Lord, that we can trust
In the midst of deep sorrow.
Anything Lord, everything
Put into Your Hands
Will be turned into Glory.
Your Glory transforms
All our ugliness and sins
As I stand amazed.
Amazed by You Lord
As in Your Love we are bathed
And fully restored.
Restored to live life
Giving You all the Glory
For creating us.
To walk in Your ways.
Ways of Righteousness and Peace
As You restore all.
Precious Granddaughter Hannah Rose, your Bumpa and I have loved you from the minute you were born and we're so thankful for your presence in our lives. We pray for the Lord's Glory to be manifested in you forever. Please receive this little poem in the spirit of His Love as it was written for you today. You're always in my heart-Me, N.V.B.
My mom's friend Grace of many years (whose also my friend) sent me this precious card along with a gift certificate. I actually didn't even know cards were made like this. It reads:
Love begins before a baby is born...and that love will live forever in your heart.
When you lose a baby, you lose not only the promise of a very special human being, but you lose many beautiful hopes and dreams as well. That's why, at this difficult time, you have the caring thoughts and sympathy of so many.
Hannah Rose, may God bless and keep you during your time of grief one year after Lily's passing. Love, Ron, Grace, Darrin, Joel
One of my cousins sent me this card. It reads:
Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal. -Thomas Moore
Dear Hannah Rose, Thinking of you at this difficult time. Remembering with you, and sharing your sorrow, on the anniversary of Lily Katherine's birth and rebirth. I pray that your faith in our LORD Jesus Christ is bringing healing and renewal to you. With much love, Mary Ellen
At the family get-together March 20th, everyone signed a card for me. It reads:
A new strength...There are times in every life when we feel hurt or alone...But I believe that these times when we feel lost and all around us seems to be falling apart are really bridges of growth. We struggle and try to recapture the security of what was. But almost in spite of ourselves...we emerge on the other side with a new understanding, a new awareness, a new strength. It is almost at though we must go through the pain and the struggle in order to grow and reach new heights. -Sue Mitchell
My uncle Tim (who has been sending me text messages of encouragement with Scripture and quotes every day since Lily's memorial service last year on March 27th!) wrote the sweetest thing:
Hannah Rose, the time we're in is so appropriate for where you are in your journey. Winter to spring, sorrow to hope, darkness to light. We love you and we lift you up to the Lord and Lily Katherine.
For Lily's birthday, I got myself a necklace from 'My Forever Child' with Lily's actual footprints engraved on it!
On March 17th, my mom and I went to Rex Hospital where Lily was born. In the gift shop, I found this. It has lilies of the valley on it, so I had to have it. I'm using it as a pen holder on my desk.
The Bleeding Heart (an appropriate name) that some family friends gave me last March and is now planted in our garden is now blooming!