Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Walk of Remembrance

When we left the hospital after evvvverything had happened, with exhausted minds and broken hearts, we were given a huge box of stuff from the NICU: there were angel statues, Hadley's hand and feet molds, all the items that were in her bed with her, her hats and bows, a bunch of blankets and stuffed animals, a new baby guide (ouch), and a folder with grief resources. In the days and weeks that followed, once we made funeral and burial arrangements (the worst), I reluctantly opened the folder and sought help from those who have walked this incredibly difficult path. I found the Share Parents Network (a support group for those who have lost children), and immediately joined their facebook group. From there, I learned about the Walk of Remembrance and Hope, an annual event held in October. I marked the date in my calendar and in my summer swirl of grief, it seemed so far away.

The event was this past Saturday and AJ and I attended with our friends and fellow angel parents, Tracy and Matt. (We met up for brunch before the walk. We tried a new place that was delicious called Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade. It was delicious, I would totally go there again). I love chatting with them because we talk about our girls, yes, and our pregnancies, but we can talk about other things too. Our stories are woven into who we are and while loss is a constant presence in our lives, it's mixed in with lots of good stuff too. I can't fully express how thankful we are to be friends with people who truly, in every sense, understand what we went through. 

 We arrived to the Peace Gardens where the event was held and submitted the names of our girls to be read. I of course put Hadley's full name because I just love hearing the whole thing: Hadley Grace Steele. Is it strange I immediately thought of her graduation? AJ and I always tried out our baby name picks with how they would sound when our child walked across the stage to get their diploma. That's how you should hear your child's whole name. That thought certainly stung a bit. We got the T shirts that we had ordered and it had all the babies names on the back that had been submitted. There was a short presentation of some songs and a children's choir. Then they read all the baby names. That hit me so much harder than I anticipated. Tears streamed down my face and Tracy and I grabbed each other's hands when our girls' names were read. There were just so many names. Behind each name is a family and pure, immeasurable love, hopes, and dreams. Oh sweet angel babies, I know you all wonder why we mourn for you because you are dancing in heaven now. But we just miss you. A lot.

 After the names were read, there was a really moving dove release. I had never seen a dove release before and it was really neat and special. Then we began our walk around the gardens. The path was lined with luminaries with all the babies' names. We took these luminaries when we left and they will be lit on October 15th, in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss and Awareness. They call it the "Wave of Light." Overall, it was an enjoyable afternoon honoring all the babies gone too soon. I can't wait to take the future Steele children one day as we all celebrate the beautiful, brief life of Hadley Grace Steele and all the other precious angel babies. You enriched our lives before you were on Earth, while you were here, and even after. That is truly a gift of love. 

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