In recent years, I finished up my graduate studies while simultaneously discovering my love for teaching. I had many great opportunities to teach at the University-level, as well as at a nearby community college. I developed wonderful connections with my students over the years and am extremely blessed by those experiences. Along the way, I experienced the death of my daughter, Chloe (May, 2006) and then had two miscarriages in 2009. Chloe's life and death truly influenced my chosen career path as I realized my passion for helping others who were grieving.
After much debate about "what's next," having finished graduate school in May, I decided to leave teaching and begin my career with Hamilton's Academy of Grief and Loss. In fact, I had worked there before for a time, assisting the director with the many grief-related events and services offered to the community. I absolutely loved it! However, I was trying to finish school and was pregnant with a healthy baby, so something had to give. Now, a few short years later, I have found myself back at Hamilton's as I train to become the next Director of the Academy. I tell you all this because there really is a great story behind it that not everyone is aware of. The story, I feel, is truly a message of God's redeeming work in our lives...
The story begins nearly five years ago. I would have been pregnant with Chloe at this time, expecting the birth of a healthy baby. In February of 2006, we received news that she would not live long after birth, if she made it to birth, due to a chromosomal abnormality and accompanying brain condition. Choosing to continue the pregnancy for as long as possible, and desiring to plan her funeral ahead of time, we were put in touch with Hamilton's Funeral Home, which came highly recommended. On May 8th, 2006, we met with two of the most caring women, Margo and Holly, to prearrange Chloe's funeral. Since that time, Holly has become a dear friend. We connected right away because sadly, she too knows the pain of having to bury a child. Her son, Alan, died at 5 1/2 months old after his second heart surgery. Friday was the anniversary date of his death. I never got to know this lil' guy, but he is so special to me for a number of reasons.
Just three short days after first meeting with Hamilton's, Chloe was born into this world. Much too quickly, she went to be with Jesus. We were blessed to have been able to make her arrangements ahead of time. We were blessed even more in the days that followed. Chloe died on a Thursday. We decided to have her visitation on a Sunday evening with the funeral on Monday morning. After the plans were set, we realized that Sunday was, in fact, Mother's Day. It seems sad to think about, and sometimes it is, but at the same time I am so thankful that I got to spend time holding Chloe in my arms on the one Mother's Day I had with her. What a treasured gift.
The funeral was surreal. We had an open casket and Chloe rested in the cuddliest blankies we could find, clothed in a pretty pink dress and her special bonnet. She was buried with a few small items, including a small pink New Testament bible, a doll, and a special necklace around her neck. The necklace was a gold chain with a heart charm that had the word "me" engraved on it. This small heart was a breakaway piece from a larger heart, which I wear around my neck, engraved with the word, "mommy." I love that we share this. Another thing I remember about the funeral is that Holly wore a pale yellow suit. I know that may seem like an odd thing to remember, but it really stood out to me. It was comforting. It was a small ray of sunshine on a very dark day. I will never forget that.
Before I knew it, the service was over and people were proceeding out to the beautiful words of Michael W. Smith's "This Was Her Time." I remember crying so loudly when the time came for my brother and brother-in-law to carry their baby niece, my precious Chloe Marie, out to the waiting limousine. This was it. We were leaving this place to go and bury our child.
The story doesn't end here...stay tuned in the days ahead as I share more on the redeeming work of God in and through this situation. He has truly blessed, even in this.