Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas

As we celebrated the birth of Jesus this year, another sweet baby was never far from our thoughts, either. We imagined you celebrating Jesus birthday with Him this year - how exciting that must have been for you!


(Photo taken last year of you & Micah under the tree)

Daddy and I falsely assumed the weekend of Christmas wouldn't be too hard this year... we thought it would be much easier than last year. Last year you were in the hospital, recovering from an emergency abdominal surgery that took place on Christmas Eve. We spent the evening with you there, and came to you as early as we could Christmas morning. Big brother didn't want to be separated from you either - we were so eager to see you. On Christmas Eve, I had your nurse play a CD for you continuously throughout the night, and all day Christmas day. It was Casting Crowns Christmas CD entitled "Peace on Earth". I couldn't have found a more peaceful, soothing music with such a powerful message. The music was nontraditional, but perfect for you, my girl. The nurse even liked it! This year at Christmas I could not get myself to listen to that CD. It just made me sad... maybe next year.

(When I came to visit you this day - the day after Christmas, less than two days after your major abdominal surgery - you opened your eyes as soon as you heard me come in - you stared at me for awhile, listening to everything I said - that was probably the last time I had seen those beautiful eyes of yours as you began to slowly swell up so much after that day, that your eyes closed tightly - such a precious time)

Last year at Christmas we still had realistic hopes and dreams of bringing you home with us. You looked so beautiful, and fought so hard to recover from each hurdle. There were talks of "homecoming parties" in the planning for when you were discharged. But instead, you had the ultimate homecoming, 3 weeks after Christmas.

This year during the holidays, the tears didn't come until Christmas Eve. We were preparing for our celebrations, hanging our stockings, when I came across yours. As I was hanging yours, I had a full meltdown. The tears just came....and came....and just couldn't stop. It was a strange feeling to prepare for Christmas while missing one of our children here. The tears came often that day, and often throughout Christmas day as well. We had many moments of happiness, and joy, but I would not be honest if I didn't admit that we felt the void, the stinging pain of one of our own missing from our family. Thankfully, the extremely painful days are few and far in between. It hits us hard on holidays, your birthday, and all of the "firsts" that this first year after you went to be with Jesus. Hannah, amidst our happiness, joy, and even the tears...you are never far from our thoughts. All of your relatives remembered you on Christmas as well. Micah had a very exciting Christmas - you would've loved to see his beaming face. It was precious. After all of the festivities, on our way up to NJ to celebrate with more relatives, Grandma Rodgers, Auntie Zetta, Micah, Daddy and I visited the cemetery ("Hannah's Place"- as big brother calls it). All on his own, Micah went up to your picture on the headstone and rubbed it saying "Oh sweet Hanny"... just as he did when you were still with us, and he would visit you in the hospital. That made my heart so happy! He truly brings such joy to our lives, just as you did... God has truly blessed Daddy and I with amazing children.

(our attempt at a family Christmas picture last year! haha - goofy big brother of yours!)

Speaking of amazing children, you may already know this - but you will have baby sister arriving at the end of March. I know you would've wanted this for all of us... we are happy anticipating her arrival. Your brother and sister will always know who their sister Hannah was... you will always be a part of our family. We love you.

(you with your stocking that hung by your bed last year - we hung it up this year in memory of you!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sweet Dreams

I realize it has been so long since I have written, or posted anything on this website. We certainly think about you every day. Thanksgiving was last week - a truly memorable week for us as we couldn't forget what had happened last year at this time. Two days before Thanksgiving last year, you had your major open-heart surgery!

(these pictures were taken with my phone)
You came through that so well, surprising all of the doctors and nurses with your amazing recovery from the procedure. Mama and Daddy were so proud of you. We spent Thanksgiving day at the hospital with you, and even ate dinner there. We wanted to be all together as a family, and didn't want to leave you behind! We had fun that day, though. Thinking about Christmas coming up makes us miss you even more...but you getting to spend Christmas with Jesus this year is precious - brings me joy to think about that. Your big brother still thanks God for you every time he prays...he always thanks God for "daddy, mama, Dunkin (the dog), and baby Hannah".

Last night I had a dream about you. I haven't had a dream about you in a long time. In this dream, Daddy and I went to the hospital to visit you - and you were the age you would be now - just over a year old. You looked so good! The nurse was carrying you around, you only had a few tubes hooked up to you, you were wide awake, strong, and looking right at me. I couldn't wait to hold you - but I woke up from my dream before I had the chance to get you in my arms. I love having dreams about you - it truly feels like I got to see you again. Such a comfort, sweet girl... such a comfort.

You will be a big sister by April 3rd of next year. I know you are already looking over this sweet baby growing inside of me... we are seeing the same doctors and specialists who saw us when we were pregnant with you. They all remember you, too. The doctor who delivered you was so happy to see me back in his office for this pregnancy. His entire office was excited to see us again. The doctor is sad that he never got the chance to have his picture taken with you. However, he had the great privilege to bring you into this world - we will forever be grateful for him.

We have another big appointment coming up this Wednesday to get a better look at how this baby is doing. I wonder if you will have a baby sister, or a baby brother? I had a dream that it was a boy. We will see...

Sweet dreams, baby girl. Mama loves you and misses you... but do know that as much as we all miss you and wish you were here in our arms, we are happy that you are safe in the arms of Jesus. No more pain, no more tears, no more suffering...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy First Birthday, Sweet Baby Girl

video
My sweet Hannah Joy,

One year ago today, at exactly 9:38 in the morning, you arrived into this world. You cried right away with a precious cry that sounded just like a baby lamb.

Little did we know that would be the last time we would hear your sweet voice. Your whole life you had a breathing tube in, therefore you were not able to make a sound, but you certainly made your feelings known! You still could cry, with tears streaming down and the saddest little pouty lips. There were times that you flashed sweet smiles at me - or moved your mouth as if you were trying to do "baby talk". These memories we will cherish for a lifetime.

Although one year ago today was one of the greatest days of my life, I have been dreading your birthday since the day you passed away. How do we celebrate without you here? It does not seem possible. We are having a party in your honor this Saturday. You are precious to so many... and we know you will be celebrating in heaven. We want to celebrate your beautiful life... you are so loved, baby girl. So loved. My life is better because of you... one year ago today, God gave Daddy, Mama, and Micah one of the most beautiful gifts ever - YOU.

Mama's friend Sarah wrote some beautiful words to us, sent with a gift she made for us in your memory. I thought what better day to write it here than the day of your birth - when we are missing you even more. She wrote this as if it was your message to us... it made both your daddy and I weep. We could not have written it better - it was almost as if she knew you, sweet girl.



If She Could Tell You

If she could tell you, she would say she loves you and knows she is loved.
She would say how she loved holding your hand and feeling your warm loving touch.
She would say she was never more content and happy than in your arms.
She would say that she blew bubbles especially for her older brother to make him happy.
She would say how much she cherished the special story time with Daddy.

If she could tell you, she would say how much she loved
the gifts and stuffed animals everyone gave her.
She would say how sweet your kisses were on her forehead
She would say how she couldn't wait to see you and hear your voice and hold your hand.
She would say how you made everything bearable

If she could tell you, she would say that she felt great love as God lifted her up.
She would tell you that she is full of joy and peace, perfected in His presence.
If she could tell you, she would say that she is still holding your hand.
If she could tell you, she would say you will see her again soon.
If she could tell you, she would say God holds you with His hand
and has promised to be your comfort and strength forever.




We love you so much, our precious Hannah Joy... happy first birthday...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Letter from Danielle and Lily

Dear Hannah,

We never met. In fact, I've never even met your family in person. But I know your sweet story because I know your mother online. See, I am also the mother of a miracle baby, a precious little girl fighting some big deal things. Her name is Lily. She was born four months before you were. She's spent months and months in the hospital, first in the NICU and then in the PICU. I think you know this already, because I think you two might be friends.

Lily doesn't speak, and she has only learned a little sign language. She's deaf... and I think it's because she can talk to angels. I see her in deep thought and think she's speaking over precious things with her angel friends, with you, Hannah, and other friends she has. She seems happy most of the time and never alone.

There is a song called Angel Lullaby from an LDS movie called My Turn On Earth. It's lyrics go like this:

You came from a land where all is light
to a world half day and a world half night.
To guide you by day, you have my love,
To guard you by night, your friends above.
(Chorus)
So sleep, sleep, till the darkness ends,
guarded by your angel friends.
So sleep, sleep, till the darkness ends,
guarded by your angel friends.

There's one stands softly by your bed
and another sits close with a hand on your head.
There's one at the window watching for the dawn,
and one waits to wake you when the night is gone.

We sing this to her some nights, even though she can't hear us. And one night, I realized... Lily has angel friends. You're there with her, you, and Bella, and Cora... and so many more.

We never knew you, but we love you. We are glad for the time you were here and sad that we didn't have the chance to meet you. You are loved here, and we will be celebrating the birthday of our angel friend for you later this month.

~ Danielle and Lily
(click here to view Lily's facebook page)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September

Baby girl, this is a tough time of year for us as it is the month in which you were born. It caught me off guard how painful it is - we miss you so very much. I will write you a special letter on your actual birthday...but I wanted to write something now, too.

A year ago at this time we were all eagerly awaiting your arrival. Grandma O. from Montana was getting ready to come stay with us for a while to help out. In those final two weeks before your birth, we were putting the finishing touches on your beautiful nursery.

Two tones of pink divided with an orange strip, a beautiful hummingbird bedding set - and hummingbird pictures on the wall.

We had your clothes folded and set up on the shelves, receiving blankets folded, placed in baskets, and newborn diapers stacked and ready to use.

We were ready for our princess to arrive. It saddens us so deeply that you were never able to come home to us... to your room that we prepared for you. We did our best to take your things to you, though. Whether it was taking you your favorite bright pink soft blanket (the one that matched your crib bedding set)

or your soft little leg warmers that you wore in style... it was too precious for words.


The month of September this year does not bring the same excitement. We find ourselves heartbroken at the thought of your birthday coming up soon - and you won't be here to celebrate. Mama's heart hurts. We will still be having a party for you here, celebrating the beautiful life you lived. You went through more pain and suffering in your 4 months on this earth than most of us will ever go through in our entire lifetime. I am so grateful to be your Mama... and eternally blessed to have carried you inside of me for 9 months. We thank God every day for the 4 months you were able to live on this earth. I leave you with a portion of one of my favorite songs, sweet baby girl - it's called "I Will Carry You" by Angie Smith.

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?
People say that I am brave but i`m not
Truth is I`m barely hanging on
But there`s a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle

Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the one who`s chosen me
To carry you

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Four Years Ago Today...and Happily Ever After

I know you will never read these letters...but it certainly helps me in this healing process to address them to you, and tell you the stories I would love to tell you in person. In our long days at the hospital, mama, daddy, Grandma R., Grandma O., Pops, and some of your Aunts and Uncles were able to tell you some stories as we sat there with you...bible stories, family stories, and of course princess stories! Pastor Forrust read some of our favorite verses to you - you loved hearing him read, too (your second favorite to daddy, of course...daddy was your favorite).

While I'm trying to decide which letter to post next, I wanted to tell a story that you would enjoy... a "princess" story of some sort. It began four years ago today. Actually, it began about five years ago, when I first met your daddy. I was a nanny for a family living just outside of New York City. I lived with them, working 12-15 hours a day, but most of the time I had the weekends off. During those weekends, I would travel to Aunt Mary and Uncle Bill's house in NJ to spend time with them. During that time, I was introduced to your daddy. I became friends with your Auntie (daddy's sister) and after a few months, she decided I needed to meet her little brother. We were introduced and began dating shortly after. We had so much fun during those months - many fun dinners out, day trips to New York City, and spending time with our families. Your Grandpa and Grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins in Montana really enjoyed meeting him during that time. While we were in Montana, he was able to see the beautiful Glacier National Park for the first time. After dating for quite a few months, we became engaged...we were engaged for about 6 months before we got married.

Four years ago today we were married in the beautiful state of Montana where I grew up. The ceremony was at my home church, the reception took place near my old "homestead" on Flathead Lake where I grew up.



It was certainly magical that day! Truly a fairy-tale moment. The weather was beautiful, but so hot. It was nearly 100 degrees! In Montana that is tolerable - there is no humidity. It was a gorgeous day. One of the songs I asked my cousin to sing at the ceremony was the song I chose for your daddy. It is called "When God Made You". Whenever I hear that song now, I can't help but think about not only your daddy, but you and your brother, too.



The ceremony was peaceful and perfect. All four of your cousins (at that time there were only four) were the flower girls. Each had a beautiful white dress with a leopard print sash tied around the waist.



All of the men in the wedding party donned a leopard print bow tie and cumberbund. Yes, your mama loves leopard print!



The decorations in the church that day were "Jungle-themed"... tikki torches on the end of the rows lining the aisle, palm trees and green plants up front. A floating leaf candle was used as the "unity candle". It was beautiful!



The reception at Flathead Lake was full of wonderful family and friends, and wonderful food! Your Uncle B catered for that event, with the help of some of my cousins, aunts, and uncles - helping with the prep, set up, clean up. It was a beautiful event, absolutely unforgettable. Daddy and I couldn't have pictured a more perfect day. The tables were decorated with a variety of tropical/jungle type fruits. The infamous wedding cake was, of course, decorated with a leopard print design!


A funny highlight of the day was when the groomsmen tried to throw daddy in the lake! His buddy Pete wanted paybacks - at Pete's wedding, the men threw him in the lake. Haha! But, it didn't work... daddy got away! I was laughing the whole time, I knew it was coming but I didn't say anything (I secretly wanted to see him be thrown in)!



At the end of the day, we drove off into the sunset...where, as in true fairy-tale fashion... we would live happily ever after.

(this picture I took in Aruba on our honeymoon - beautiful island sunset)


We truly are happy, blessed, and would not trade this life for anything. God knew what He was doing when He created us... He knew daddy and I would be together, He knew that you and your big brother would be brought into our lives.
(Top picture: Micah - Bottom picture: Hannah)

You and Micah have absolutely made our lives sweeter... through your life and through Micah's, daddy and I have learned more about true happiness, true contentment, and how to fully rely on God. I don't like to think what would've happened had I not taken that job as a nanny outside of New York City. Because of that, I met your father. You and Micah are truly blessed to call him "Daddy". We are truly blessed to have Micah in our lives, and to have had you in our life (although our time with you was way too short)!

Happy 4th Anniversary to your Daddy!!! Certainly the best four years of our lives...

We love you,
Daddy, Mama, and big brother Micah

Monday, July 25, 2011

Big Brother

Hey Baby Girl...

Your big brother Micah is growing up so fast. He is getting smarter by the day. He counts to 39 on his own, counts to 10 in Spanish, and can spell so many words. He truly loves to learn. Being smart can be a bad thing, too! He almost knows how to out-smart me...haha! He thinks he can get away with anything, and he sure knows how to work his mama. Tonight, for example, as I am typing this - he came running out of his room to sit with me on the bed, even though he's supposed to be sleeping. I guess he just needed some mom time (I think he knows I'm a softy). He has been sick since Friday, some sort of stomach bug. No fun. When he's sick I don't mind staying up later with him. As you well know, you always need your mama when you're sick...

Daddy and I have been busy planning a party in your honor. You get to spend your first birthday in Heaven...you will be having the greatest party of all up there! We will make sure we have a lot of fun at our party here, we won't make it a sad event. We know you want us to have fun. Your brother will certainly have fun with his friends and relatives there...he'll be excited to see all of the purple and pink balloons we will have for your party, too! More on that later...

Whenever Micah sees something pink or purple he says "Hannah! Pink and purple is for Hannah...oh Hannah would like this!" It might be a flower in the garden, or a toy on the shelf of the toy store. He has reminders of you everywhere.

Speaking of reminders, it is finally getting somewhat easier when people ask how many kids I have. For the longest time since you passed away, I avoided that question. I couldn't handle bursting into tears one more time. But now it's not so difficult. I proudly tell them "two..." Sometimes they ask further questions, which lets me talk about you. I don't mind that so much anymore. The hardest "reminder" right now is when filling out information forms at the dentist, or doctors, they ask "any surgeries in the past year?" And of course I am reminded of the day you were born - the last surgery I had, not quite a year ago yet. That made me sad to think about...it was the reminder, the harsh reality that it really hasn't been that long since we had to say goodbye to you. You were born only 10 months ago. Time goes so fast, yet so slow.

Love you and miss you so much.
Love,
Mama

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ten Months Old

Dear Sweet Hannah Joy,

You would have been 10 months old today. I can so easily imagine how beautiful would be. You would be crawling around, pulling yourself up on furniture, and tormenting your big brother and dog! Oh how I wish that was happening right now. We miss you, sweet girl. Everybody does. Daddy can't listen to Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Cinderella" without tears welling up in his eyes. Lately, big brother Micah has been asking about you more and more. He misses you so much.

In honor of your 10 month birthday, we are moving away from your CaringBridge site to this website where people can write you letters, tell stories about how your life impacted theirs, or to write out their feelings when they find themselves hurting and missing you.

We love you sweet girl. We know you would want us to be happy, and keep moving along... and we are doing just that. You will always be a part of our lives...never forgotten.

I miss you especially today.

Love,
Mama