Saturday, October 16, 2010

Elise's 2nd Birthday & Memorial Celebration 2009

No this is not a type-o. I am really writing about Elise's second birthday and memorial even though we just celebrated her third. I think it's important to understand where you have been to fully understand where you are now. So trust that in time I will share more current events after I share a few past events. Before I can share photos from year two I have to talk about year one. Elise's first memorial was a huge deal. Rob and I made it through one full year without her and we survived all the big firsts. What we planned for Elise's first memorial has set the precedent for our second and now third year. Traditions we intend to carry on each year form here on out.

Before I share what we do in honor of Elise for her birthday and how we celebrate her at our memorial parties I would like to add this brief side note... One of my favorite books I read for healing is called, Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff. It's a great book and I would love to share a piece of it with you in the paragraph below.

"Put your hand into my wounds," said the risen Jesus to Thomas,"and you will know who I am." The wounds of Christ are his identity. They tell us who he is. He did not lose them. They went down into the grave with him and they came up with him- visible, tangible, palpable. Rising did not remove them. He who broke the bonds of death kept his wounds. To believe in Christ's rising and death's dying, is also to live with the power and the challenge to rise up now from all our dark graves of suffering love. If sympathy for the world's wounds is not enlarged by our anguish, if love for those around us is not expanded, if gratitude for what is good does not flame up, if insight is not deepened, if commitment to what is important is not strengthened, if aching for a new day is not intensified, if hope is weakened and faith diminished, if from the experience of death comes nothing good, then death has won. Then death be proud. So I shall struggle to live the reality of Christ's rising and death's dying. In my living, my son's dying will not be the last word. But as I rise up, I bear the wounds of his death. My rising does not remove them. They mark me. If you want to know me you must stick your hands in.

WOW!!! If you are not moved by that then you have never suffered and you have never loved. It is the most beautiful well written paragraph I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It has imprinted itself into my mind and I could not agree with it more. It is the truth! So.... I've said it out loud now about a thousand and one times and now I will type it here on this blog to cement it in a little more. "I WOULD NOT HAVE MADE IT THIS FAR IN MY JOURNEY THROUGH GRIEF WITHOUT THE LOVE AND SUPPORT OF MY FAMILY & FRIENDS!"

Our family and friends have allowed Rob and I to express our grief in what ever way helps us heal. They have not only supported us but they have mourned and celebrated Elise's life along side of us. I feel so fortunate because not all bereaved parents have this luxury. I thank our family and friends with my whole heart for their understanding and acceptance. I am without a doubt marked by Elise's death. I am not the same nor will I ever be the same. Some of the new me is good and some of it's not so good. Still they love me. They have willingly embraced the new me flaws and all. They have not been afraid to stick their hands into my wound. They know me. I am blessed. I will some how do good as a result of this tragedy. I will use my suffering to help others. I will not let death win. Death need NOT be proud!

If you reading this and you happen to be any one of my family or friends who have supported me in my journey through grief over the years... I SINCERELY THANK YOU! Your love and support keeps me sane and on the road to further healing. Your love is immeasurable to me. I will return understanding and support to you with whatever crosses you are forced to carry in life. I PROMISE. I LOVE YOU!

For Elise's first birthday we kicked off our memorial celebration by attending the Walk to Remember for the first time. We donated two suitcases to Spectrum Health Blodgett for the P.E.N.D (Parents Experiencing Neo-Natal Death) program. We took our favorite photo of Elise taken by Whispers and had a photo cake made to deliver to the nurses in remembrance of her. We had delivered a cake to my OB office along with a few angel inspired gifts. I had a third cake of Elise made for AppleTree. (The daycare I had her enrolled in prior to her death.) I included a children's book with a heavenly theme appropriate for their nursery. I created a video of Elise on One True Media and emailed it along with a letter to my dearest family and friends set to the song Glory Baby and posted it to YouTube. We had a Catholic Mass said in her name. I delivered remembrance candles, a photo of Elise, and poetry to our entire neighborhood,  I requested everyone leave their outside lights on for the 13th as an expression of love for her, I hung black and pink balloons on our mailbox, I set out an inflatable pink cupcake on our front porch, Rob and I hosted a balloon release in the cemetery with our family and friends, I made a huge lasagna dinner for everyone with Angle Food Cake. Then to top it all off I made gift bags with all sorts of remembrance goodies for them. All in all it was a lot of work. I have lots of photos of it but I don't have them saved on a CD so I can't share them. I need to get them burned to one ASAP...

Year one set a huge precedent. How could I top all that off again? Well some how I just did. The only thing I changed was I only did one suitcase for for the P.E.N.D program, instead of the video I sent out 150 memorial cards with the infamous hat photo I had taken of Ava. I just love that photo and I recently had help from my sister-in-law adding it to my blog header. Then the day after her second memorial I sat a parent panel for educational purposes for the OB residents at Spectrum Health. What a great way to honor my sweet girl!

Here are some of my photos from our second memorial...

P.E.N.D Suitcase and AppleTree Gift


Suitcase up close...



Suitcase Contents...



Photo Cake for AppleTree... (This is also what the cake looked like that I sent to my OB Office.)



I took a picture with the Wobbler Room @ AppleTree with the kids Elise would be playing with...



Cake for Butterworth OB...



Nancy, Heather, and I...



Some of the RN's looking at my suitcases...



Nancy & Ava... (Nancy is head of Bereavement for Spectrum and she was our therapist for 19 months).



Elise's Cemetery Site all decked out for our family celebration...



Me at Elise's resting place...



Rob at Elise's resting place...



Our house sporting pink & black balloons symbolic of mourning and celebration...



Big Pink Birthday Cupcake...



Pink Roses set to us from Aunt Dawn & Uncle Keith...



Our family & friends in the cemetery for Elise's Remembrance Ceremony...
(I'm handing out roses here for our guests to leave for Elise.)



Reciting the "We Remember Her" poem...



Everyone wrote a love note on their balloon to send to Heaven...



Family Photo...



Our Balloon Release...



Leaving flowers for our tiny Rose Bud, Elise...



Grandpa, Jack, & Grandma leaving flowers and saying a prayer. My dad even left her some M&M's.


Jack enjoying some dessert after dinner. He wishes Elise was here to play with...



Angel Food with Pink Frosting for our Angel!



Thanks for letting me share some of our past events and I hope you enjoyed all of our photos

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