I was getting ready for bed tonight and stopped to look at the article on my fridge "Playground to be built in memory of Baby Rachel." I looked at it again...in memory... I started crying. I sometimes cannot believe that my baby is gone. I can't believe I held a baby that belonged to me in my arms and had to let her go. I just can't believe it. I can't believe I watched her die. I can't believe I had to pick out her burial stuff and a grave while she danced in my belly. It really is hard to believe. Or maybe this is denial...
So, anyway, tonight at the meeting I had brought up a fear I had about Rachel's Playground fund and asked that if anyone was going to spend anything out of it, that they run it by me first. I know it sounds obvious, but I felt like I needed to say it now that we're coming up on the time to start spending what I've been saving for months now. (the money is all in an acct at my church) Everyone kinda looked at me like I was nuts and making a foolish remark. Tonight I was thinking about it and trying to figure out why, if I trust them to use it wisely and know that they all have the same goal in mind, does it worry me? And contrary to popular belief, it's not just because I'm a control freak, although I don't deny that to be a part of my personality.. (usually concerning my kids, so I guess that makes sense here) But, I don't honestly believe it's that. If that was it, I wouldn't bring the money all there, I would just hold onto it myself and give it out as needed. I had people send donations there because I trust them. I do.
I realized tonight that the money is so much more than dollars to me. I realized it when I heard myself say in response to their comments "well, it's Rachel's money and it's all I can do for her" - the important part here is "it's all I can do for her"... I hang on to what little I can do to still protect my girl.
When people came to my baby shower, knowing Rachel would die and donated over $1600 towards a playground that we had no idea where it would end up going... it said to me that Rachel was important. That her life mattered... that I wasn't alone.
When I got numerous donations after the benefit concert that my family put on for my uncle Dale and Rachel, from people I never had met... it said to me that Rachel was touching the hearts of many... that her story was moving and that people we didn't even know loved us....that I wasn't alone.
When we got donation after donation "in lieu of flowers" after her funeral, letters from people all over the country, poems from people in jail, cards with Rachel's name on them... I would fall to my knees in tears and thank God for what He had done with her life and for allowing me to be part of it. With each dollar I received, it said to me that her death didn't go unnoticed. That she mattered to hundreds, thousands of people... that I wasn't alone.
Just this week when we got the $1,000 donation and I read the words she wrote: (this is part of it)
"I read your blog every day, and often visit multiple times in one day. You are in my thoughts daily, and my prayers. I think of Rachel just as often and her cute little face and cheeks..... I'm praying for your new baby! I wish I could say all the things in my heart, how amazing you are, how blessed your little family is to have you, how amazed I am with the man and father Matt, your beautiful kids, I could go on and on....."And as much as I was excited about the money, the part that mattered to me was that she cares about us. She cares about me, she cares about Rachel... that she knows by my blog that my husband is amazing. This donation didn't just make me say "yay, we're closer to what we need for $" this donation said to me "what you've done with and for your little girl is honorable." I read this and I knew that even 4 months later, Rachel is on people's hearts... she is still changing the world.
I got a $100 donation from someone after Rachel died, but it was someone who had made it very clear that she didn't care about me or Rachel shortly after that, and I threw the check away. This playground is much more to me than a project. And every dollar that gets spent on it will be one filled with love for her. I don't care if I have to come up with the difference myself. My daughter's playground is not about the money... money can come from anywhere, but only some are capable of the love she deserves.
And so, the time has come to start letting that money be spent. I know it's going to a playground, but it's a playground that will really belong to someone else. I'm taking all the money that hundreds of people have poured out in love for Rachel and I'm building something that doesn't belong to us. Something that other people may break, something that some people will call the church's playground, and something I have no control over. And what did I expect? I said in August that I wanted to build her a playground. I know I didn't decide until much later that it would be at Grace, but I knew it would cost money and I knew it might break or that it might not be called "Rachel's".
My fear of her being forgotten has yet to let up. My main concern from our first meeting with our pastor about the potential of building it there, was that it be something that we donate to the church in her name, not that the church builds and I put her name on it. I wanted it to be "Rachel's" and the only way it's "Rachel's" in my mind is if everyone knows that it was money given for her in HER acct. There have been a few comments along the way that have played into my fear, but ultimately, it's just me being over protective in the only way I can for her.. making sure she isn't forgotten and that everyone knows why that money sits in that acct. I want it to be recognized as hers, because it is. Sounds foolish to some of you, I'm sure. But, I'm just being honest.
I remember at her funeral saying over and over to people who came up to me at the end "now what am I gonna do??" and I followed it up with "I'm gonna build a playground" because while I'm busy, it's easier to not get sad. I spent months planning her birthday and it was beautiful. I spent months preparing her funeral... and it was perfect. I've been working on her playground ever since and it's going to be amazing. But what am I gonna do then??
At the end of it all, my daughter is still a memory.
I'd let people spend that money anyway they want without ever telling me a thing for just another moment with her.