Monday, October 23, 2017

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2017 💗 💙

This year for the first time since Lily's birth, I was able to be at her spot in Crozet, Virginia on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day on October 15th for the international Wave of Light. There were a lot of things happening in Virginia over that weekend and I was glad I could be there (will share more later). It turned out to be quite the special and peaceful evening spent with my mom, Aunt Sarah, Uncle Steve, and Aunt Helen. It was actually Helen's birthday, so it meant a lot that she drove almost the hour trip to spend the evening with us.

I had this picture in my head of how I wanted it to look... I wanted multiple candles lining both stones, lighting up the darkness. Lily is buried by family... her great-great-grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-aunt. Bumma and her baby Rachel who she lost are there beside her, so I wanted to be at the place where I could be near them all. My mom found a bag of many small colorful candles at Bumma's house as she was working on cleaning there earlier in the week. So Bumma provided the lights this year! :) I got there before dark and lit the candles and it looked gorgeous with the mountains in the background.

My mom took this short video of me lighting one of the candles.

Each Fall, I like to take mini pumpkins to Lily's spot but couldn't find them anywhere... but then right before driving over to the cemetery, I made another stop to check if this particular store had them and they did!! I was able to decorate Lily's spot just the way I wanted. The bouquet of flowers were gorgeous from the Pregnancy Center Banquet (I'll share about that soon). I brought a couple things for the evening, including Lily's foot and handprint.

The cemetery was actually made cozy by the candles... never thought I'd say that. My mom usually doesn't like going to the cemetery like I do. Some people find it comforting and others don't and that's okay. She said on that evening that it was the first time there that she got a good feeling, and it was because of the warm glow of the candles. My aunt and uncle said it looked pretty as they were driving up.

It was a cool evening and thankfully there wasn't any rain. The evening was simple in that I didn't really have much planned besides the actual candle lighting. I ended up playing a song called "Lily" by Marianne Alme. It's gorgeous and reminds me of my little flower.

I then read aloud a little something I wrote about why I light my candle for the Wave of Light:

October 15th ~ Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. The International Wave of Light.

I light my candle because I treasure the sanctity of each irreplaceable, beautiful life made in the image of God.

I light my candle to say that these lives have dignity and value and they deserve to be acknowledged and remembered.

I light my candle for the little ones I've grown to love over the last 7 1/2 years in knowing their parents... way too many to even begin to name here.

I light my candle for Lily Katherine and Rachel Ross, my daughter and aunt who came into our family and were physically here for a brief time, yet they forever altered the fabric of our lives.

Most of all, I light my candle as a symbol of hope that the Light of Christ shines into the deepest darkness of grief and death and one day He will set all things right.

We stayed for the hour for the Wave of Light in our timezone. I layed on my back in the grass and gazed up at the October night sky, with sparkly stars shining brightly and beautifully. As we were sitting there chatting, a dog appeared out of nowhere. Then a lady came running up chasing after him (there is a gas station next door to the cemetery). I had her adorable little dog in my arms to give back to her. I thought that she must be thinking we were a bunch of weirdos out there at night in a cemtery with candles lit, so I explained what the day was and what we were doing haha. After we left the cemetery, we went to Dairy Queen for a treat. I had a pumpkin pie blizzard. :) 

The entire day was special. I went to church with my friend Jer (his dad is a pastor). Then I had lunch with their family. Then we were at Bumma's in the afternoon. The day felt peaceful and I know I will look back on memories of the day with fondness. 

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Happy Birthday, Skylar!

October 21st ~ Happy 1st birthday in Heaven to Skylar Jean - a dear, sweet, beautiful baby girl who I imagine must be one of Lily's best friends. What a loved baby girl she is, by her parents Shannon and Tracy, and by many others. I wish she were here to celebrate with her family. They've been on my heart and in my thoughts all day and I hope it's been a gentle day of remembrance and celebration. Skylar was unexpectedly lost at full-term. :(

As Skylar has been on my heart, another one of my friend's son who is turning 1 today has been as well. The irony and differences of what the days hold for these two families make my heart ache in disbelief. I actually know multiple people whose babies share birthdays, with one having been stillborn and one being born healthy. It is a huge glaring reminder of everything that is lost for those of us who have buried our babies.

While Skylar's family was visiting her stone at the cemetery and having a balloon release in her honor, my other friend's family was having a birthday celebration with the birthday boy holding his own balloons and eating his smash cake. While Skylar's family was imagining who she'd be today, what all this year might have held, and wondering how she'd look beyond the sweet newborn she was, my other friend's family was reflecting on the past year with smiles, marveling over how much their big 1-year-old has changed in the past year, and oohing and aahing over how tiny and cute he used to be as a newborn.

Multiple days throughout the year my heart is torn in two, celebrating over lives that are here on the same days that I'm grieving over lives lost. Babies born on the same day, yet the birth experience and every day since having been radically different. ❤️  

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Embracing What He Gives and What He Withholds

A close friend of mine recently wrote in an email in which we were discussing life as single Christian women in our upper 20s, "I will gladly take what He gives and what He withholds."

Shouldn't this be the posture of our hearts as Christians in general? And specifically referring to single Christians... are we walking in surrender, accepting with gladness what He gives and what He doesn't give? Or do we pout and kick and scream the whole way, begging for something different than what He in His sovereign wisdom has ordained?

We hear how the Lord is involved in the small details of other's lives and love stories, yet somehow we get this idea in our heads that our circumstances are unique, that they are somehow beyond His control. Like He isn't involved... is detached... is unconcerned with our relationship status.

Singleness Displays the Gospel

How can we seriously believe the lie that the God who created marriage and the two genders is unconcerned with our love lives? Marriage demonstrates to the world the beauty of the Gospel. As Christians, we know it is a reflection of the covenant between Christ and His church. We understand this and that's why we yearn for a spouse and know that it's an honorable thing to desire.

But do you want to know what else demonstrates to the world the beauty of Christ? Something we don't talk about as much, but is as much of a gift as marriage... Singleness.

We are not "less-thans" in the body of Christ as singles. We uniquely display the bride, the church, waiting on her groom, Christ! We may not currently have the blessing of demonstrating to the world the Gospel reflected in a marriage covenant, but we can show the world what it looks like to wait in hopeful expectation and aching for Christ's return. I know the yearning I feel for an Earthly husband, and God has used this to teach me how much more I should yearn for Him.

Daring to Desire

I know I personally can feel guilty that I still long for marriage when I am reminded by married people that I need to simply be content. We should be content in our singleness, yes, but contentment does not equal lack of desire.

Perhaps deep down we are afraid to desire because we are afraid of being disappointed with God, we are afraid that He isn't really good and that's why He is holding out on us. I didn't even realize I believed this lie until I read a post Marian Ellis shared on her blog about her journey of desire. She wrote:

Somehow, in my journey with Jesus, I bought into this religious notion that I would be considered more "spiritual, godly, or holy" if I pretended that I was content, and I didn't long for anything but Jesus....
I was pretending out of fear. Fear, that I would be disappointed if I allowed myself to hope. Fear, that God wouldn't come through for me. But beyond that, fear that Satan was right and that God was not really good after all. All the squelching of desire, while on the surface made me feel spiritual and godly, was actually my heart believing Satan's oldest lie.
How could I truly love the Lord if I did not trust Him with the deepest longings of my heart? How could I claim to walk by faith if I didn't hope for things that only the Lord could provide? How could I experience God's highest and best if I didn't risk believing Him?
The Lord allowed me to see that burying my true heart's desire was an act of unbelief. It was taking my heart, hiding it, and telling myself and others that I refuse to long for more because I don't believe there is a loving Heavenly Father who is willing or able to change my situation.

It can seem more godly to not desire, when really not desiring may actually point to fear and disbelief. We can be fully content in Christ and accepting what He has both given and withheld, while simultaneously desiring marriage and laying out our hearts before the Lord. Desire is not a burden to be rid of, though honestly that is what it feels at times.

The ache and pain of singleness that we feel is not a sin. Bitterness and resentment of course could potentially take root and the desire could become an idol and obsession, but the ache and desire in and of themselves are not sinful.

Waiting with Purpose

The Lord may not take the desire away from us, even if we are to remain single, but He uses suffering and unfulfilled longings to draw us closer to Himself. He doesn't just allow us to have an unmet desire to be cruel. He's not up there laughing or pulling a prank on us. 

The waiting is not without purpose. If we are to one day be married, the wait can serve to make us a better spouse-in-the-making. Waiting somehow gives us the ability to love our husband/wife more, deeper, fuller, truer. 

Waiting is meant to be active. We should be expecting God to move and expecting Him to draw our hearts closer to Himself in the wait. So even if the fruit of our waiting and faith doesn't result in a spouse, it will still result in making us more like Christ, which is ultimately what matters most.

He Withholds No Good Thing

I have to remind myself every single day that the Lord withholds no good thing from me. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves and soak in this truth.

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." ~Psalm 84:11

It might feel like different circumstances would be a better thing, but we must cling to the truth that the God who created marriage and the entire world is perfectly capable of changing everything in a heartbeat if He so chooses. If He doesn't change things, it's for our good and His glory.

As Charles Spurgeon encouraged us to remember, "Had any other circumstance been better for you than the one in which you presently find yourself, divine love would surely have put you there."

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts your thoughts." ~Isaiah 55:8-9

An Eternal Perspective

Not feeling at home in this world reminds us that this world is in fact not our home. There will not be human marriage in Heaven. The picture will give way to the reality, and we will all find our perfect fulfillment in Christ.

May we be the kind of Christians who leave it all on the altar, not being fearful of desire, yet also not demanding or expecting the object of our desire. May our desire for marriage instill in us a deeper desire for Jesus.

~You can read more posts I've shared on singleness by clicking here.

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Getting Involved During PAIL Awareness Month

The PAIL Awareness Movement began in America in October 1988 when President Ronald Reagan designated the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 💕 💙

It's not merely about raising awareness for the sake of people being aware. PAIL Awareness Month is about honoring our babies and speaking out about the dignity and value of their lives, despite how brief. It is about others learning about this type of loss and how to better support those who are experiencing it. It is about others becoming aware of just how many people are impacted and the importance of research being conducted. It's about connecting with others walking similar journeys and building a network of light to walk with through the dark. It's about others learning about ways to protect their own babies and being vigilant to do things such as count the kicks.

It's not just a cause. These are our babies.

Here are some ideas for how to get involved in bringing awareness (don't feel like you need to do all or even any of these. Take care of your heart.):

Remembrance Walks

Multiple cities across the United States have Walks during the month of October, to raise money for organizations that give back to the loss community, and to remember the babies of Heaven. You can click here to see a list of some of the Walks around the country. If you don't see one in your area listed, you can do a simple Google search to make sure it's just not been added. If you still can't find one, consider starting one yourself! :)

Candlelight Ceremonies

As with Walks, there are also many candlelight services around the country. You can click here to find one in your area, or do a Google search. Again, if there isn't one local to you, consider starting one! This is a precious time of remembering your baby, as well as the babies of others in your community, and connecting with a support network.

You can order some of your own candles with the PAIL Awareness Ribbon by clicking here. These are only a couple dollars and would be a great way to include everyone in your family.

Wave of Light on October 15th ~ PAIL Remembrance Day

Speaking of Candlelight Ceremonies, these often coincide with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, which is October 15th. The Wave of Light starts at 7 p.m. and creates a wave of light across the globe! It's an incredibly beautiful way to connect with others all over the world. 🌎

Go Pink and Blue

Get creative in thinking of ways you can go pink and blue! How can you wear/share the awareness ribbon/colors this month?

Consider changing your photos on social media to the pink and blue twibbon (click here to do so).

Get a PAIL Awareness ribbon magnet for your car. You can find it cheap on eBay by clicking here.

You can paint your nails in the pink and blue awareness colors, or order some fun stickers! Invite your girlfriends over to do their nails too. Make it a fun evening. :) You can order some inexpensive stickers on eBay by clicking here.

Put out a garden flag in front of your house. Decorate your baby's spot.

Capture Your Grief Photography Project

Carly Marie started this a few years ago and it's grown to be quite popular in the loss community. It's a way to bring awareness, to share our babies, and to find deeper healing. I've participated in years past multiple times and always look forward to it. Click here to learn all about this year's project!


Get a special necklace, pin, bracelet, etc. with the PAIL Awareness Ribbon or colors. You can order certain things in bulk to share with friends and family. They can get conversations going at their work places and with others they know. It's a ripple effect of sharing and speaking our baby's names. :) You can click here to see some options on Etsy.

Held Your Whole Life has a gorgeous PAIL Awareness ring they are offering now. Click here to see more photos and to purchase.

Name Project

Doesn't it mean the world when someone remembers our baby by name? Consider a little project of your own this month if you feel up to it. Write the names of the little ones who you've grown to love in knowing their parents. It can be a positive way to love on others and honor your baby at the same time. You can write them in the sand, on leaves, on flower petals, etc... the possibilities are endless really!

Random Acts of Kindness

You could figure out some acts of kindness to do in honor of your child this month, leaving little cards with information about PAIL Awareness Month and your child.

Comfort Boxes

You could create comfort boxes to be given to parents experiencing the loss of a baby at your local hospital. Be sure to contact them first to be sure they are able to accept them.

Invite Others

In whatever you choose to do, invite your loved ones to do it with you. This is a way for you to love your baby together. This is a way they can support you, which they probably are wondering how to do. Invite them with you to a Walk or Candlelight Ceremony. Start a team for the Walk to raise money together. Have them over to light a candle for your baby together. 

This month would be a great time to share some movies and documentaries with loved ones. You could have a viewing at your home, to watch Return To Zero or Still Loved.

Order some buttons or bracelets in bulk and ask your family to share about PAIL Awareness Month on their social media pages. You could order some t-shirts with your baby's name, birthdate, and photo on it for everyone to wear. There's no telling how many conversations can be started and how many times your baby's name could be spoken! :)


Do you have some ideas for how to get involved that haven't been shared here? Please take a moment and leave a comment!

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

It's Not Just a "Cause"

Most everybody knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Two of my aunts are survivors of breast cancer. There is pink everywhere, from people you see wearing t-shirts at the grocery store to NFL players sporting pink shoes on the field. There are several walks to support this cause and billions of dollars pored into research. Millions of people acknowledge it, which I think is a wonderful thing. You basically can't live in the United States and not hear about it constantly during the month of October.

But, not many people know that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It is far too often overshadowed. I would never want those other things to be forgotten about, I just want P.A.I.L. (pregnancy and infant loss) to be spoken about as well. I want commercials about it and money being pored into it by giant corporations. It is a worthwhile thing to research, understand, and talk about. 

You can get your own PAIL Awareness images to share with friends, family, on your blog or social media accounts from Luminous Light Studio by clicking here.

My daughter, Lily Katherine was stillborn 2 days past her due date. I had a completely normal, healthy pregnancy and she was a healthy baby. She had a full autopsy done and nobody could give me a reason medically for why it happened. Don't you think it's about time something was done about this? In the United States of America in the 21st century, thousands of babies should not be dying with no explanation. 

I know I talk quite a lot about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. You'll see pink and blue strewn throughout my social media pages, especially throughout the month of October. But you see, to me it is not just another "cause." There are thousands of causes out there, aren't there? Support this, support that. Many of these things are important. This is not a cause, but our children. It's not merely about raising awareness for the sake of people being aware. PAIL Awareness Month is about honoring our babies and speaking out about the dignity and value of their lives, despite how brief. I don't just share the awareness ribbon or take part in the Capture Your Grief Project to make pointless noise. I am as outspoken as I am for a few reasons...

One, I want those who have lost their baby to know they are not alone. I want them to be pointed to resources to help them heal. I want them to know it is healthy and okay if they want to share their stories. 

I also want others to understand how loss affects someone, irrevocably. I want others to get a glimpse into what it's like, so maybe they will learn how to offer support and understanding to those impacted by infant loss.

I want to share my beautiful Lily with the world, my sweet girl who lived a full life in my womb and will always live in my heart. My girl who will always be my baby. This is how I mother her, this is how I share her. It was a gift the Lord gave me when He opened up my heart to love her as much as I do. And because of how much I love her, I miss her with that same great measure. The grief, in turn, is also a gift, for even that points to the sanctity of her life and each life, no matter how brief. I share because I believe in the sanctity of each unique and irreplaceable life, created in the image of God.

Why aren't more people talking about pregnancy and infant loss? I think part of it is because it's an uncomfortable thing to talk about babies dying and people think it will never happen to them. I want others to be aware of the importance of counting their baby's kicks

But, the main reason I think PAIL isn't spoken about or acknowledged is because people have minimized the value of the unborn in our society. It's no wonder people don't think it matters when someone loses a baby, whether at a few weeks gestation or full-term. After all, they were just a blob of tissue, right? They weren't a baby yet, so what's there to be upset about? I ask you, then, when exactly is the baby an actual baby? Was Lily not a baby because she never breathed outside my womb, though she made it to 40 weeks? What about the mother who miscarries her very much loved and wanted baby? Is it a baby only when the mother wants it, but otherwise it's just cells? We need to talk about this! And I believe once this is acknowledged more, people will start valuing and understanding the sanctity of all life.

Women around the world, from all walks of life, are affected by pregnancy and infant loss. 1 in 4 women will face a pregnancy/infant loss in her lifetime. Some more than one.

If you have never lost a baby yourself, please help us stop the silence and raise awareness because chances are this has probably already affected someone you love. Please educate yourself so you know how to support somebody if they lose their baby. Consider changing your profile picture to the blue and pink awareness ribbon. Blue and pink for the precious boys and girls who are no longer here. Let's show compassion. Tell someone who you know has lost a baby that you are thinking of them this month.

This month, I honor and remember all the precious ones who are no longer with us, the sons and daughters of Heaven. Their lives are important and they will forever remained loved and missed by those who know them. Let's get the word out about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Share your story. Speak out!

Click here to read ideas I've shared for how to get involved during PAIL Awareness Month!

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Monday, September 25, 2017

He Knows Your Name

He Knows Your Name is an amazing ministry. There is a book by the same name that chronicles the story of how the ministry came about... and the eBook is FREE on Amazon today! Click here to download it. Linda was actually one of the people who helped make Lily's stone possible! :)

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Vote for Me in the Butterfly Awards!

You can view my profile for the Author/Blogger International category at The Butterfly Awards, which celebrates those who make a difference in the babyloss community, by clicking here. Please vote (by clicking on the heart)! And be sure to check out the other categories and profiles! I'm honestly just so touched to have been nominated and shortlisted amongst some amazing people. Whether or not I win, this is a huge honor that I won't forget. 😊 💕 🌸 🌹

Here's what I shared in my profile:

I have been faithfully writing on my blog "Rose and Her Lily" ( consistently for the past 7 1/2 years. It is my safe space where I share glimpses into how I mother the legacy of my precious daughter, Lily Katherine, who was unexpectedly stillborn after a healthy pregnancy at 40 weeks 2 days on March 16, 2010.

I'm passionate about raising awareness for pregnancy and infant loss and being a voice for the babyloss community. I hope that in my openness, others are able to gain empathy and compassion for those who are walking this path.

Not only do I write to raise awareness for those outside of the babyloss community, but I also have the honor of being support and encouragement for those who are in it. My desire is that other mothers and fathers who have experienced the sting of loss will know they are not alone in their grief and will see that there is hope and joy to be found, all the while carrying their baby with them always. I share resources and ideas for how to honor their precious child, such as how to design a baby headstone and how to recognize special milestones without their child.

I've had the privilege of being involved at the hospital where Lily was born, working with the Perinatal Bereavement Committee to implement changes and help make the care the best it can possibly be when a patient experiences babyloss. I created comfort boxes which are filled with memorial items, keepsakes to gather while in the hospital, and resources to help the parents make informed decisions that will not be regretted later, as well as to help them in the days ahead. The hospital has now adopted the box program to provide them to each and every patient who loses a much loved baby.

I also speak at events around the country, sharing my story and Lily's life and legacy. I'm incredibly humbled and grateful to have been able to reach out to thousands of women over the past 7 1/2 years, whether in person, over the phone, email, or through letters. Throughout the year, I take on projects to remember the babies who I've grown to love along with their parents, whether it be writing their names on flower petals for Mother's Day, writing their names in the snow in the winter, or writing their names on the Carolina shore where I live. I also use my blog to connect with parents needing photo editing services to help make the few priceless photos of their baby the best they can be.

As a mother to only a child I'm not able to raise, I've had the time and ability to dedicate my entire heart and countless hours to all my endeavors to honor my daughter of Heaven and bring purpose and beauty to my pain and heartbreak. Because of Lily, I decided to get a degree in Crisis Counseling and am now pursuing my certification as a Birth and Bereavement Doula. 

Through the years and the different things I've been involved with, my blog has been my steady, like an old friend who I confide in, a place where I can mother Lily, a place where Lily is alive, a place where I heal and process, a place where I share all the things done in her memory, a place where others can remember Lily too and feel connected with their own baby gone too soon.

~What Others Have Said:

"She keeps a beautiful, inspirational blog and fearlessly speaks about her precious daughter Lily Katherine. It gives me and no doubt many other mothers the strength to keep sparking about their babies who have passed and for those of us who are religious the comfort to know God has a plan for us and for our babies too."

"Following her blog - and reading every post from the very beginning - has been and continues to be immensely healing. Her words helped me understand that in the midst of overwhelming sadness and heartache, there can also be great love and hope moving forward. I'm grateful for the support she has given me and for her willingness to share her story with others." -Shannon Armes

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Grandparents Day

Sunday was Grandparents Day. Each year, it falls on a different date sometime in September. But I always think of it (I remember details and dates vividly) because it is right around the date that I first told my mom that she was a grandmother.

It was September 8th, 2009 when I called my mom on the phone and told her about our little Lily love. Over hours on the phone, the Lord restored our relationship and knit our hearts together in a new way, over our shared love for the precious wee babe growing in my womb. I was around 13 1/2 weeks gestation at that point. My mom says she feels like she was deprived all those weeks of knowing and loving Lily while she was here.

She is Lily's grandmother. Lily was her first-born granddarling. And she always will be. It takes a special kind of Grammy to learn to grandmother their granddarling of Heaven, with love that reaches across realms. Lily was my mom's only born grandchild for 6 years. Now she has my niece Harvest, who brings light into our lives. But there is always that Lily-sized piece missing... in every family photo and every holiday celebration. She will always hold her own place in the Allen family that time or new babies can never change.

my mom and Lily on March 16, 2010 🌸

I went to the Green Valley Book Fair in October 2009, when I was pregnant with Lily. I got my mom a Mary Engelbreight book called "When a child is born, so is a grandmother."

Now, because of everything that happened with losing Lily, I cringe a little bit at the title... because I realize that my mom became a grandmother, not the moment when Lily was born, but the moment she was conceived. She didn't lose her status as a grandmother because Lily died. It's still a special book, knowing I got it for my mom while Lily was here. I even have the dust jacket in Lily's scrapbook.

"Grandparents cry twice. They cry for their grandchild that died, and they cry for the inconsolable grief their own child has to bear." ~Mary Lou Reed

my sister, mom, and I when I was pregnant with Lily (March 2010)

My mom and I at her granddarling's special spot

Time, distance, and even death cannot thwart the love of a grandparent.

Though I miss my own dear grandmother, my Bumma, with all my aching heart, I'm incredibly thankful the Lord gifted me with nearly 28 years with her. My best friend, my mentor, my grief counselor, my sister in Christ. She is a treasure to each and everyone who knew her and I am somehow privileged enough to call her my grandmother and my daughter's great-grandmother. As so many people have told me since her passing, all of Crozet is missing her and feeling her absence. I'm convinced that all of Virginia, where she lived all of her 85 years, is missing her. ❤️

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