Today is my daughter's second birthday. But today, I'm not baking a cake, or wrapping presents, or getting her dressed in a special birthday outfit. Instead, my husband, our little boy, and I got in our car, drove to the store to buy flowers, then drove up the hill to take flowers to our angel baby's grave. I always love driving to the cemetery to take flowers to her. The road we drive is a beautiful, curvy, forested road, and as we go around each turn and climb higher through the trees and into the sunshine, I feel like we're driving to heaven.As much as I love her, and as beautiful as each visit to the cemetery is, these visits definitely aren't easy. Sometimes I leave the cemetery feeling emotionally exhausted. And even though I sometimes think it would be easier if we didn't visit, these visits have been an important part of my healing. And choosing to remember her and celebrate her life has made me happier. And most importantly, it has helped me to remember that her birth and short life weren't my life's greatest trial. Instead, those few precious hours with her were one of the greatest gifts I've ever received. When it comes to parenting, I am a firm believer that each parent needs to do what they think is best for their child and for their situation. I also think this applies to parents of angel babies. Everyone is different and will choose to celebrate and remember their angel baby's life in their own way. I've shared a few posts on social media with family and friends. And now, I'm sharing a few thoughts here with you. And I am always open to talking about my sweet girl, but for the most part, I tend to keep my deepest feelings and strongest emotions inside. I tend to do things a little more quietly and more privately than others might. So when our baby was born, we only had a few immediate family members there in the delivery room, and we only had a few family members and close friends at her funeral. But I also know of other parents of angel babies who have been much more public with their grief, and by doing so they have found healing and happiness. I've also found that over time, our needs for grieving and celebrating our angel babies change. On our angel's first birthday, my husband took the day off work, family members flew into town, and we spent the whole day celebrating and remembering her beautiful life. And in the months, weeks, and days leading up to her birthday, I worked with several of my friends and family members to put together gift baskets for parents of angel babies. Then we donated them to the hospital where our angel was born on the day she was born. One of the hardest things about losing a baby is the emptiness you feel in your arms and heart, knowing that there is so much more you are supposed to be doing but are unable to do. Because the child you love with all of your heart, and had planned to spend so many sleepless nights and happy days with, is no longer with you. At the time, creating these gifts to donate to the hospital helped me to fill the void and gave me something to do with my empty arms. And hopefully, helped fill the heart of a few parents of these precious angel babies, the same way gifts donated to the hospital filled ours the night our angel was born. But this year, our celebration was comparatively quite simple. We didn't buy an elaborate bouquet to place in the vase near her headstone. Instead, my husband bought five, bright pink gerbera daisies—because, as he explained, he thought they seemed like flowers our two-year-old girl would love if she was here today. And we didn't spend all day celebrating her. Instead, we spent a few short moments sitting near her grave as a family, talking about her and remembering that beautiful day two years ago.
Next year, our celebration might look completely different than this year's few quiet moments together. Or last year's day of celebration and remembrance. And that's okay. I'm sure our celebrations also look a lot different than the celebrations and moments of remembrance experienced by parents of angel babies all around the world. And that's also okay. I think we each have to remember our special babies in a way that helps us to find the most healing and happiness. Recognizing milestones and celebrating anniversaries has been an important part of my healing—and a special part of remembering and celebrating the little life that touched our hearts and completely changed our lives forever.
The "Over the Rainbow" series is for, and from, mothers who have lost their little ones or experienced infertility. We know this can be a very sensitive subject, and sometimes hard to talk about. We hope we are able to help others through these tough experiences as we share our stories with you. Featured Image PC: Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep