The Quietest Easter

Last Easter we were 3.5 months out from having said “see you later” to Joanna. We went to Pennsylvania to be with family, rather than be alone in the house. It was a nice weekend away, with good food and wonderful family to visit. There was noise to drown out the sad, empty cries of our hearts.

This year, we were home. Our first Easter, just to two of us, without Joanna. I couldn’t help thinking of how different it should be as I hashtagged a photo with “dinner for two” – when it should have been three. We should have a nearly one year old. Maybe she would be walking. Maybe she would be enjoying all sorts of new foods, or maybe she would be a picky eater. Maybe we’d be out “searching” for Easter eggs in the backyard instead of looking at Joanna’s winterberry tree and wishing she were here. We’d be surrounded by little girl screams and giggles and hugs and kisses. The delightful sounds of childhood filling our home and our yard. Filling our hearts.

Instead we were home. Quiet. I made a little Easter dinner, Bill took a long nap in the afternoon since he has worked the night before.

I found myself reflecting more deeply this year on Easter itself. Thinking of Jesus’ sacrifice and how He made a way for us all to go to Heaven. In the quiet of Sunday, I realized how much more grateful I am for this sacrifice now. To know that Joanna has only known Heaven, that she will not know what heartbreak is, that Jesus made a way for her little soul to go straight to Him. That because of His sacrifice, I know I’ll be seeing J again someday.

Though quiet represents a lot of pain and sadness for me, for Joanna, quiet means peace and joy and praise and walks down golden streets and being held by her Creator, while we are not there to hold her.

Maybe this will be our last quiet Easter, but I’m grateful for the time I spent thinking of Joanna and for the peace that covers my heart when I think of seeing her again someday.

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Pretty in Pink [A Celebration of Life]

These past few days I have had a lot of trouble thinking about what to say, which is why I haven’t posted in a while. So here goes nothing…

Easter weekend was pretty hard for me. I was surrounded by so many of the people I love. It was a beautiful weekend of joy and celebration. But at the same time, it was devastating. Thinking that I probably shouldn’t even have been up in PA, considering that Joanna could have been born early. Or, better yet, that she was growing and healthy and happy right up until 40 weeks: Tuesday. Which would have meant I couldn’t have traveled so far away for Easter. Those are the things I think of when I’m alone, when I’m in bed trying to fall asleep, when I’m driving in my car… If only things were different.

Speaking of 40 weeks, Tuesday on my due date we had a celebration of Joanna’s life. We decided to plant a winterberry bush in our backyard. It will get bright red berries in December (her birthday) and will have bright green leaves most of the rest of the year (that come out in Spring, around her due date). Prior to the evening of our celebration, we invited friends and family from afar to write “Dear Joanna” letters on tags that I designed and printed on light pink card stock. Then, local friends (and my mom and Aunt Barb) came over for a potluck dinner Tuesday. April 7. We hung all the mailed-in tags and the friends who could attend the celebration filled out tags and hung them as well.

We had wanted to plant the winterberry and hang the tags outside, but the weather was not cooperating. I was pretty upset at first. Something came out of my mouth in the car on my way home from work that sounded like, “God, You get to have Joanna, can’t I at least have nice weather for our memorial?” And it came out in a loud, angry yell. It was certainly a low moment for me, though anger is a common emotion for me to feel when I think about losing Joanna. Regardless, I felt better after saying what I was truly feeling, and a bit of peace washed over me, like God was answering me, “You carry Joanna in your heart, you celebrate her life every day, the weather can’t change that, or how much you love her.” And so I went home, put the tree in the house like a Christmas tree and we celebrated. It was beautiful. The pink really popped, plus we had pink tulips and pink balloons.

Love Mom

I feel so blessed to have so many family members and friends who joined us in celebrating, near and far. I am so grateful for their thoughts and prayers and support during the past three months. There is no doubt in my mind how loved Joanna was and still is – and no doubt that Bill and I are loved, as well.

Proud Parents

A final thought…I feel like making it to my due date and surviving this time is a huge relief to me. Every week I thought about how far along I would be in my pregnancy and what that would mean for us. And now, I am not counting down to the day when my baby would NOT be born. It has passed. I am here. Breathing. Sure, I will think of all those milestones we are missing as the rest of the Spring babies are born. I will be happy and sad all at the same time to see new pictures of those babies on Facebook and even meet some of them once their parents bring them home and are settled. But now, we’ve made it. Now, we look back with love and sorrow all at once. But now we also look forward – and try to hold on to hope that someday there will be a baby brother or sister for Joanna. We look in our hearts and we find her there.

Dear Joanna (4.3.15)

Dear Joanna,

I want to tell you something. Just know it is not your fault. It’s not mine either. Though it’s always hard to believe that. 

I am feeling left behind. 

Sometimes I feel bad feeling that way. I know I have friends who wish they were married and feel left behind. And I have friends who wish they could buy a house and feel left behind. Of course I have friends who don’t have children yet and probably feel left behind as well.

Still, I feel left behind because I don’t have you. All of your dad’s siblings have children. My brother has a son. Many of my friends who married after me, or are not married at all, are having children. Or even just friends who are younger than me. I thought it was my turn – our turn. Your dad and me.

We thought we were going to join the new parent club when you were born. While we did join a parent club, it’s not quite the same. Being part of the bereaved parent club…it’s one no one wants to join.

We thought you would be our Rainbow Baby, the baby who is born after a loss. But now, you’re another Glory Baby. Another precious life not living here with us, but in Heaven. 

But speaking of rainbows, your dad and I saw a rainbow today on our way home to Pennsylvania. We saw a few rainbows the summer we found out we were pregnant with you! This was the first I’ve seen since you left us and I want to believe it was sent our way to remind us you’re with Jesus on this weekend where we celebrate Him and His resurrection and our salvation.

Maybe, it’s even a sign to remind me, on the weekend before your due date, that there is hope of another baby – a sibling for you. Our Rainbow Baby. 

This weekend will soon be over. Your due date will soon pass. But I will still feel left behind… Behind you, already in Heaven. Someday, we will meet again. 

I love you, sweet girl!

Love,

Mom