We felt so blessed that the labor and delivery went smoothly, allowing us to spend time as a family without nurses or doctors interrupting us. Heidi was admitted to the hospital about 5:30am and discharged at 7pm that same day. We spent the immediate days following Anneliese's arrival and departure at home as a family. On our way home from the hospital I wanted to pick up some lumber to make Anneliese a display shadow box for the celebration. I grew up in a home with a display case on our dining room wall filled with a picture, booties and a few other remembrances of my baby sister Adrienne who passed away from SIDS at 6 weeks old. I was only 9 years old at the time, and although most of my memories of her have faded over the last 20+ years, I often found myself staring at it during times of big decisions, trials and confusion in my life. It always seemed to bring me great peace, strength, direction and comfort in hard times.
So, while my sister in law was upstairs chatting with Heidi on the Saturday afternoon before the celebration, I was in the basement turning 3 pieces of wood into my best concoction of what Heidi had expressed to me she eventually wanted Anneliese's shadow box to look like. I thought I had done a pretty good job, but when I brought it up the stairs to confirm if it was the the right size for what she wanted to put in it, her eyes immediately filled with tears and holding her hand over her heart, she whispered to me, "It's perfect." My sister-in-law stole herself away to the front room for a minute while Heidi and I held each other and cried tears of both sadness and joy. Sadness that the shadow box would be the one to tangibly hold our angel baby and not us, and joy because it would also be holding those items that touched our sweet Anneliese, and would serve as a constant reminder of her life of perfection and be a mechanism of healing our hearts until we can hold her again.
Heidi did an amazing job filling it with her feet and hand molds the hospital made for us, her baby bracelet, dress, and cap she wore at the hospital for pictures, and a framed picture of Heidi and I holding her. This will soon hang in our Master Bedroom...just as soon as I find the right hardware to hang it properly.
Now that we've had 2 weeks to absorb what's happened, we are realizing just how emotionally up and down our lives are at the moment. It appears that one moment everything is fine. We are going through the motions of our routine and things are moving along. I'm back to work. Jillian is back to school twice a week and Heidi is keeping the house together as she always has. But I'd be lying if I said we are really back to normal. I feel about as unstable as ever. It appears that only a few seconds after, "Everything is fine," we're holding each other in tears, with aching arms to snuggle Anneliese again and see her older sister do the same.
My heart aches for Jillian to have a sibling to play with. Yesterday we celebrated Jillian's 4th birthday, and at the last minute booked a condo to give her our undivided attention for a long weekend, so she would know how loved she still is by her, "Unstable" parents. I've come to grips with the fact that I'm not the perfect father, but I'm trying. All I can do is try harder today than I did yesterday. My girls need me right now more than ever before, and although there often doesn't seem to be much, "Fuel left in the tank," it's the life I can say that I am glad I chose, and it's my responsibility to EXPRESS my love and support constantly. There is no "Day off" as a husband and father, and I consider myself so blessed to have been raised by such an amazing father who could teach me that first-hand as I am 1 of his 13 children. On my baby sister's headstone my parents were wise enough to engrave, "Our lighthouse in the storm." They were so inspired in choosing that. I don't recall a single trial in my life where I didn't reflect on that phrase.
We all have trials we don't want to bear. My favorite scripture is found in The Book of Mormon: "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."(Helaman 5:12)
My family and I have now been blessed with our own lighthouse to stand alongside Adrienne to brighten our storms with hope and direction in the darkness of adversity and trial. Anneliese has been made perfect in Christ and his atonement. We know her spirit lives on in the spirit world, and she eagerly awaits the day of resurrection just as Christ did. "For Christ...might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." (1 Peter 3:18-22). Children are perfected in Christ, and in his perfection, root for us to be steadfast and unmoved in the storms of life, that we might be reunited with them again someday. This knowledge doesn't remove all of the pain and sorrow that has come to us in burying our child that we want so badly to raise in this life, but this knowledge does make it bearable. There is a God in heaven, and he loves every one of his children perfectly. "For aGod so bloved the cworld, that he dgave his eonly begotten fSon, that whosoever gbelieveth in him should not perish, but have heverlasting ilife." (John 3:16) Christ Lives. He has paved the path for families to be together forever, and although I fall short every day, I find peace in his grace and glory for having closed the gap of my failures through his infinite atonement. We just need to take life one day at a time...and on the difficult days, one moment at a time. "Remember that without afaith you can do nothing..." Doctrine and Covenants 8:10