Saturday, May 29, 2010

Janessa's Memorial Service Video

We held Janessa's memorial service on May 15th. A day after what would have been her 1st birthday. It was absolutely beauitful & it all went so well. We held it outside at a local church pavilion. It was a gorgeous day. The wind did put a damper on my decoration plan but we adjusted & found a way to make sure the items did not fly away!

The service brought me so much comfort & peace. Being able to do that in honor of our daughter felt amazing. In the days after we lost Janessa we were shocked & devastated. Her funeral was rushed & it never sat right with me the way it was handled. It was so healing to be able to think clear & plan a special day for her.

We had about 80 people attend. We will always remember who was there to support us & remember our daughter. We have expressed gratitude for their presence but they will never know what it meant to have them there. Their support & acknowledgement of Janessa's life is incredibly touching & healing.

I included the full video of her service. It starts with a short slideshow of still images of the venue & decorations. It then goes straight into the video of her service & the first 2 song performances, her new edited life story video, my words, the last performance & finally the butterfly release. I know there are many of you who expressed how much they wish they could have attended. I am glad I was able to upload the video for those who wish to watch. For the fellow grieving parents, I hope the words & message bring some of you some comfort of your own.

MAKE SURE TO PRESS PAUSE ON THE MUSIC PLAYER ON THIS PAGE BEFORE PRESSING PLAY ON THE MEMORIAL SERVICE VIDEO

It may buffer for about 30 secs but then plays straight through.







Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To Our Sweet Janessa

This poem was printed on the back outside cover of Janessa's memorial service program. It is just perfect. I thought I would share it here.

To our sweet Janessa

O precious tiny little one
you will always be to me.
So prefect, pure and innocent
just as you were meant to be.
We dreamed of you and of your life
and all that it would be.
We waited and we longed for you
to join our family.
We never had the chance to play,
to laugh, to rock to wiggle.
We long to hold you, touch you now
and listen to you giggle.
I will always be your mother,
he will always be your dad.
You will always be our child,
the sweet child that we had.
But now you’re gone,
but yet you’re here,
we’ll sense you everywhere.
You are our sorrow and our joy,
there’s love in every tear.
Just know our love goes deep and strong,
we will forget you never.
The child we had, but never had
and yet we’ll have forever.
 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Butterfly Story

This past Saturday was Janessa's memorial service. It was beautiful! Everything went so well & it gave me a sense of peace to be able to do something for our little girl in honor of her 1st birthday. I also believe it gave me a small bit of closure. Not closure in the sense "ok now I can close the book on this chapter in my life now". I do not believe that at any point I will ever feel or think "wow I remember going through that, that was hard". This is something we will have to live with for the rest of our lives. Janessa not being here with us, has & will continue to be a part of our lives now. I cannot shut the door on her existence or the love we have for her. What I have been trying & will continue to work at is still living, loving, & enjoying life. Doing that when you have placed your child in the ground becomes an enormous challenge. I will keep moving forward towards that while taking a piece of her with me.

I am in the process of getting the full video of her service ready to post here for anyone who wishes to watch. It should be all set in a few days. For now I would like to share a reading that was done at Janessa's service. We did a butterfly release at the service's end. It is a cute story with a ton of meaning.
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In a green meadow filled with Milkweed and flowers there lived a colony of caterpillars. They were a happy colony, living a quiet life in the cool shade. For many months they were very busy, scurrying around and munching on the soft Milkweed leaves.

They did notice that every once in a while one of the colony seemed to lose interest in crawling around with its friends. It would go off alone and crawl high up in the trees. It gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

“Look!” said one of the caterpillars to another, “one of our colony is climbing up to the tops of the trees. Where do you think he is going?” Up, up and up it slowly went…even as they watched, the caterpillar disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return.

“That’s funny!” said one caterpillar to another. “Wasn’t he happy here?” asked another. “Where do you suppose he went ?” wondered a third. “I wonder what it is like up there?“ said another. No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled.

Finally one of the caterpillars gathered its friends together. “I have an idea. The next one of us who climbs to the tops of the trees must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.” “We promise…” they all said solemnly.

One spring day not long after, the caterpillar who had suggested the plan found herself climbing high up into the trees. Up and up she went, higher and higher into the trees. Before she knew what was happening she had broken through the canopy of leaves into the warm sunlight and fell into a deep sleep.

When she awoke she looked about in surprise. She couldn’t believe what she saw. A startling change had come over her old body. She now had beautiful wings!

Even as she struggled she felt an impulse to move her wings. The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from her new body. She moved her wings again and suddenly found herself flying into the blue sky.

She had become a butterfly. Swooping and dipping in great curves she flew through the air. She felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by the new butterfly landed on a leaf to rest. Then it was that she chanced to look below to the bottom of the meadow. Why, she was right above her old friends the caterpillars! There they were, crawling around and munching on Milkweed, just as she had been doing before.

Then the butterfly remembered her promise. Without thinking the butterfly darted down. She landed on a flower and looked into the grass. Now that she was a butterfly she could no longer go back.

“I can’t return!” she said in dismay. “At least I tried, but I can’t keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the caterpillars would know me in my new body. They could not recognize such a beautiful creature as ever having been one of them. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become butterflies too. Then they’ll understand what has happened to me and where I went.”

And the butterfly winged off happily into its new world of sun and air.

Janessa’s spirit is with God. As David said, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” Take what comfort you can that you will be with her in eternity. And until then, take the love you have for her and share it with all the rest of us left here in the meadow.”


Sunday, May 16, 2010

1st Heavenly Birthday


May 13th marked one year since the day our little girl’s heart stopped beating. It was a very emotional day. I was doing well until I had an upsetting phone call that triggered my emotions and floods of tears. I was still in planning mode for her memorial service so I had to push on through the day.

I still had not found an outfit for her service. I had requested everyone to wear bright colors & no funeral attire. I had been crying all day & the thought of shopping alone felt daunting. I called one of my best friends & she came along. I knew if I had someone with me the tears would not flow as freely. While I waited for her I went to visit Janessa. I brought her another solar light & I hope this one is not taken. I also brought a beautiful butterfly my mom had picked up for her. I pulled out the journal my dear friend Meli had given me to write letters to Janessa. I keep in my car so I can pull it out on days I find myself there with the urge to write. It feels good to sit there & write to her. I was also pleased to see the grass has started to grow in front of her plot. I had not been visiting her as much as usual in the past month or so due to all the planning I have been doing. I realized I had been wearing out the ground & now it had some time to grow in. I had snapped this a little bit before Easter of her plot. I am glad it no longer looks like this.


You can tell where I sit. It looks so much better now that I have given it a chance to grow.

Friday was May 14th. It was Janessa’s first heavenly birthday. It marked one year that we have held in her in our arms & gazed at her pretty little face. Its strange how quickly this past year has gone by. I guess grief can really warp your sense of time. My husband took the day off to help me do all the last minute details for her service the following day. Although I was unable to fully take in the day for what it was, being so busy, the service was worth it to me. We tied up the loose ends & managed to make it to the cemetery at dusk. We brought her a cupcake with #1 candle on it & one of the butterflies that had arrived for her service. We sang happy birthday to her & let the butterfly go.




We also sent her up birthday balloons & left one for her grave. I can only imagine how beautiful her birthday was up there. I hope she received our balloons & felt the love we were sending up to her that day.

I had been silent on here & face book over those 2 days. It was all too painful. I appreciate everyone who remembered those special days & sent us love either through my blog or facebook. Those messages helped me make it through a little easier.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

This was me May 9th of last year. This would be the last picture I took pregnant.


I was exactly 31 weeks pregnant. I took this pic right before we left to attend a friend's wedding. I was incredibly happy. Life was blissful. We were living our life with our amazing son. We had finally married the October prior after being together 10 years. I became a stay at home mom. We may have not owned our home but it felt pretty close & all we needed was the darn white picket fence.

The following day was Mother's Day. I recieved breakfast in bed with my big old belly & JJ ate his with me. My husband put a pink carnation on the tray that he brought in the room. That flower now sits in Janessa's memorial curio case in the living room. It represents the only Mother's Day she will ever spend here with me.

If you would have told me then that in four days my little girl's heart would stop beating and that next year on this day I would be planning my daughter's memorial service instead of celebrating my first Mother's Day as mom of 2, I'm not sure what I would have done or said. I can see the horror in my mind. All I know is I look at this picture & I see a smile that my face can no longer seem to form the same. I see eyes that are sparkling with happiness, joy & excitement & I know my eyes could never light up that way again.

I see a woman who has been lost forever & I long for her & that life with all my heart today.

I had a peaceful day today. My husband made breakfast & we had a great lunch with my Mother. I feel blessed to be a mom to our son & that I have an amazing mother in my life.

There will always be a tug on my heart on days such as these. Another reminder that another year has passed that I did not spend with all my children here with me.

I hope everyone had an amazing day. To those moms who may have lost their only child I hope today was peaceful and gentle to you. I have kept so many of you close in my heart & thoughts today.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Prayer Shawl

I received a touching gift in the mail a few weeks ago. It was a hand knitted beautiful prayer shawl. It was sent by Connie, the mom of my childhood best friend, Meagan.


Connie lost her daughter Kelly 3 months after we lost Janessa. Kelly had just turned 35. We experienced a different type of loss but we both lost our daughter’s & we are both traveling down this road.

The shawl is just gorgeous. She included a card & it explained all about it as well as a beautiful prayer. I had never heard of a prayer shawl such as this one before.

It was knit especially for Janessa & I. Each stitch that was made was a prayer for us. The colors were chosen to represent femininity, mothers & daughters. The colors are also significant because purple is for hope & pink is for healing. The colors just happen to match Janessa's nursery. She also put little charms on the fringe to honor our little girl.


She placed Janessa’s name with a cross, angel & also a heart locket that I can place her picture in. She also placed a little teddy bear with baby pins. She included a sunflower to honor her daughter Kelly. Sunflowers were her favorite flower. I look forward to adding special charms as time goes on. Depending on the weather I may bring it with me to Janessa’s memorial service along with the handkerchief I received from For Your Tears.

Shawls are made & given to bring peace & comfort to those facing life changing events in their life. Some include marriage, illness, birth of a baby or grief.

“The power of the prayer shawl is in its physical properties and source of warmth. It feels like a hug and serves as a reminder that people are praying for you and whatever your concern is. There always seems to be someone in need of a shawl, and in the course of making each one you come to feel closer to the person who will receive it. The gift of a prayer shawl enables the recipient to be surrounded by prayer, and is a tangible reminder of God’s care and love, encouragement and inspiration.

The shawl maker begins the shawl with prayers and blessings for the recipient. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on the way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making a shawl or donating yarn to the ministry for a shawl for someone else in need. Thus, the blessing ripples from person-to-person, with both the giver and receiver feeling an unconditional embrace of a sheltering, mothering God!” - Prayer Shawl Ministry

Thank you Connie! I love it!
 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Janessa Came Out To Play

If you read my last post about IBMD & what an amazing day I had with two lovely ladies, Stephanie & Kristin, you may remember me saying how I imagined our little girls recieving the balloons we sent them with excitement.

Here is the pic I posted of our release:


Here is the original darker but it shows a bit more detail:


One of Stephanie's blog followers pointed out the baby face in the clouds on the bottom left:


Kristin then spotted the other two. Can you see them? Go ahead take a look, I'll wait............
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Ok here it is:




Our little girl's came out to play.

Read Kristin's post here: http://onceamother.blogspot.com/2010/05/signs-dont-get-much-clearer-than-this.html

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

International Babylost Mother's Day

International Babylost Mother’s Day is held the first Sunday of May. “On this special day in May we come together to celebrate our connection, our children and our hope for the future. IBMD is a day for love, peace, remembrance and recognition.”- Carly Marie Dudley founder of IBMD. It is also a special day for the moms who may have lost their only child. Their child may not be here with them but they will forever be mothers.

I was able to spend the day with two fellow mommies who I have met here in “blog world”. Kristin from Once A Mother & Stephanie form Carried Through Grief.


It was an amazing day. We shared our hearts, our daughters, our stories, our tears but mostly our laughter.

We had brunch at a lovely restaurant & Kristin had made the girls candles with their initials on them. They are so precious. We each brought a photo of our daughter & placed it in front of the candle. We stayed chatting there for over 3 hours. We had each brought a Mother’s Day gift for each other without discussing that ahead of time. Kristin’s was the beautiful candles & Stephanie had made a cd with songs that have helped her on this journey as well as a gift card in a handmade personalized envelope. I gave them an angel pin with their child’s birthstone on it. My husband & I each have one & they mean so much to us.


We then went on to do a balloon release at a park. Kristin had planned this out so thoughtfully. She had 5 balloons. One for each of our girls, one for all the baby loss mother’s & one for all the children gone too soon. She also had ordered a beautiful butterfly. We wrote special messages to our daughter’s, for the moms & I wrote a special one to all the children.





Kristin spoke a few beautiful words & then we released the balloons. We watched as they faded out of sight.



I imagine our little girl’s receiving their balloons with such excitement.

We then went on to take a walk by a river. Our connection was instant & there was not one awkward moment of silence. I felt like I had known these two ladies my entire life. After the walk we stayed chatting until about 8 pm.

I am so grateful for such a special day & that these two women have been brought into my life. Some more beauty from pain.
 
I am already looking forward to next year’s.
 

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