Three long years. I hate it.
If you've been following along for a while, you know I like to do something special for her day. If you're new, the recap is that the first year, we sponsored a couple of young girls who were having babies that month. You all helped me to raise, allowed me to purchase, and then blessed me to donate $843 in items for new moms who had chosen life despite their 'imperfect' circumstances. We had an amazing gathering at her grave - I was lost in tears when I pulled into the cemetery to see cars just lining the road... the weather was perfect, the fellowship sweet. I felt so loved and so supported - and so not forgotten.
Last year, we did a puzzle fundraiser where everyone purchased a puzzle piece from a photo puzzle I had made of us at Rachel's Race that year. Each piece represented $10 towards our cost of applying for the 501(c)3. And although I had worried that people wouldn't still be interested, you all donated more than I could give in puzzle pieces! It was unreal. I still have the puzzle framed on my wall... and I just caught myself staring at it tonight.... But the hard part about last year was that it ended up snowing on the day of her party - only a portion of the people showed up and many that said they were coming back to the house after, didn't. And I was disappointed. If there is one thing worse than having to try to celebrate my daughter's birthday on the same day as the anniversary of when she died, it's being let down by my expectations of others. So I decided that I needed to change things up.
And it's coming.... another birthday.
I've had big plans on what I wanted to do - the "big" part of it was that I plan to go more simple. That's hard for me, just because of who I am... but I know I need to. I have 5 living children here that need me and take up more time than I even have to begin with. I need to find meaningful things I can do to honor Rachel that don't take a lot of me from them. Because let's face it, Rachel doesn't need me.
So, what has been on my heart for a long time now is to donate care baskets to the hospital. When I was pregnant with Rachel, I received an amazing package from String of Pearls. It had stuff in it that I would not have thought to bring myself.... but I got it ahead of time because I knew Rachel was going to die. I always wondered what about the people who don't know ahead of time their babies will die? What if they go to the hospital planning to leave with their baby - and then can't? They have no time to plan for making memories there... And me being the planner I am, that breaks my heart.
Shortly after Rachel's last birthday, I knew this is what I wanted to do. My original thought was to have her party in October, around the anniversary of her baby shower and Infant Loss Awareness Day... invite everyone... have them help me assemble the baskets... and then on her birthday, just Me, Matt and the kids could deliver them to Maine Med, where Rachel was born.
A month or so before October 16, I mentioned to my friend Lisa that I just didn't have peace about the party - and decided not to do it. Once again, God was leading me and I'm glad I followed, because after Jailyn's (my niece) stroke, I was in no condition to be planning anything.
So, although the baskets are not assembled... and there was no big party in October... and there won't be a big party on December 3... I have peace about the decisions I have made and trust God's leading in this. I'm realizing that her first birthday will never happen again and it's okay. I used to be so scared to not be able to make that happen again. But I know that it was a beautiful gift given exactly when I needed it - and this year, I know that God will give me exactly what I need too. He always does.
My vision for this is that as we put together and physically donate these baskets, my children will see us doing something that they understand. Donating $10,000 after Rachel's Races is amazing - but they don't fully comprehend that - and it probably doesn't feel worth losing all the time they do with me to hear that we gave money to a great cause....
I think if they get to help assemble the boxes and then we all go together and THEY get to hand them to nurses who know about Rachel, knowing that other families like ours will benefit from it, in the only place they ever spent time with their little sister outside of my womb... it will leave more of an impression. Loving beyond words....
If this goes well, I'm hoping that this will be a simple, yet meaningful way to spend December 3rd each year. The idea of being able to spend a little bit of her day each year in the hospital she was born at sounds hard, but very healing to me. I'm looking forward to having time to talk to the kids (and the people at the hospital) about her. To tell them how much I want to do for others because of God's great love and provision for us when we were in that place. To be able to keep her memory alive for them... and for me.... as the years go on.
Here is where you come in.... because we all know that I would not have been able to do anything I've done for others in Rachel's honor without all of you....
I purchased 10 Memory Boxes. I have some beautiful and meaningful items that I would love to fill them with. And I'm hoping you can help me do that. I have tried to create boxes filled with the things that meant the most to me - or things that I later wished I had had.
Des & I went to the store with the plan of buying items to make memories boxes. I 'stumbled' across these boxes, which cost close to the same as the materials to make boxes, but are nice quality, have a magnetic closure AND I thought the words on top were *perfect* for someone who just lost a baby..."Love Beyond Words"
|Each of these necklaces contains 3 dandelion seeds. I plan to add this as my "Rachel piece" and will include a little note about her with it. I have covered the cost of these as Rachel's birthday gift. <3 td="">3>|
|Because every grieving mom needs tissues... and we all like to cry in style.... the cutest tissue holders I have EVER seen. Another beautiful creation by Lisa Borders from McKinley Rose Boutique.|
|A photo album to carry around. I carried mine with me for the first year.|
|A place to keep prints...Printed to 4x6 to fit in the album|
|A journal... important for so many reasons - and the wording was irresistible. "We do not remember days, we remember moments".|
|The bear in the middle is my Rachel Bear :) It's funny how just seeing 'her' on this gift certificate made me smile.|
When added all up, these care baskets cost $62-75, depending on how much the shipping for the Birthweight Buddies ends up costing. I have added a 'Donate" Paypal button to the top of my blog (anyone know how to add it inside a post?) and am hoping that you all will join in with me once again at supporting others in need and loving those in pain through Rachel's Legacy.
The worst part of not doing Rachel's Race this year for me was that I didn't get to do the baby remembrance ceremony for other baby loss families. It's so important to me to help others to feel like they get that chance to share their baby with the world. I have been extremely blessed in how far Rachel's story reached and I know the blessing of knowing that people speak about her. So, if you would like to sponsor an entire memory box in your baby's memory,(or as a gift for someone you love) I will add a card that tells them it was "sponsored in memory of...." Please specify that in the comments on paypal or in the memo line of your check.
Checks can be made payable to Baby Rachel's Legacy and sent to PO Box 454, Rochester, NH 03866-0454.
I can't believe it's been three years.... It doesn't seem possible, yet I can't remember my life before her - nor would I want to. The changes I've made the past 6 months as far as how much I put into my blog and things like decorating her grave and not having her race were (are) hard - and it makes me nervous to even ask for help again since it seems like it was so long ago for everyone else and I'm afraid of being rejected. But I know what is on my heart and I know God put it there - so I'm putting my heart on the line again and humbly asking for help because it's the only way to make it happen - and that's what Mamas do for their babies.... and that is what daughters do for their God.
Rachel Alice, I miss you like crazy. On the way to church this morning, the bank said it was 43 degrees out. It felt like you were with us. Daddy & I went and fixed up your grave today. I hate fake flowers, but it's getting too cold to keep live ones there. I got you a new flag holder, it looks nice. The flag I hung says "Love lives here". And it does. We went for Pizza after with gift cards Donna gave us - the place we sat had animals that kids cut out and put their names on hung on the wall - and right behind our table was an elephant with a heart shape cut out of it and "Rachel" written on it. We all smiled. You are loved more than you know... more than words could ever describe... you are loved beyond words. Miss you sweet girl.