From the moment we found out how short Kate's life was, when I was still in the fetal position on my bed, willing it all to be a lie, Troy knew we were going to bury her. She was ours and she would be taken care of in the very same way any of our other children would be if God called them home.
We drove to California, assuming we'd be back by early the following week. As it turns out, burying the daughter we were going to adopt was a challenge. Even when her birth parents were fully supportive of transferring her to our care.
A full ten days after Kate was stillborn, we were finally able to lay her to rest. Her casket was so tiny she needed only one pallbearer. Her daddy carefully lifted her little box from the vehicle and carried her up the stairs and into the Garden of Innocents.
We bought the floral arrangement on the top of her casket. Flowers for all the daddy/daughter dances, all the birthdays, proms and homecomings and winter balls. Flowers for the wedding bouquet she'll never carry.
The flowers kept coming, though. Bouquets of pink...
Arrangements of whites, pinks and greens...
All to celebrate our little girl. A life so short...
I bought her a pink puppy. Every little girl needs something soft and pink.
Our boys each had a pink rose to lay beside her.
They were subdued. Angel children, really. Garrett sat, stoically. Matthew quietly wiped the tears that ran from his eyes.
And gently held his rose. Such tender love they both had for a sister they never met.
Her daddy gave her one white rose...
And he also performed her service. A job no father should ever have to do for his child. He talked of where she is now and who she is with. He spoke of the impact she had on so many even though her life was so short.
Just a heartbeat in a womb. But that heartbeat changed all of us. And we will never, ever be the same.
My parents bought her the butterfly balloon and it stayed at the cemetery, but the boys released the pink and white balloons so that they could fly "up to heaven" where Kate is.
One of them escaped--an anxious pink one--and shot straight up. The rest followed, blowing on the breeze.
On they blew...
And then, because I serve a Creator big enough to speak the entire world into existence but personal enough to say, "This is hard. I know. And I love you," those balloons were shaped into a heart.
My husband held my boy.
We stood around for awhile, hugging and talking and wishing it had all turned out differently. Finally, we took a picture--because we didn't have one of all of us together. Troy said, "What should we do? Are we smiling?" And it did seem absurd to stand in front of our stillborn daughter's casket and smile...
Except it didn't. Because losing Kate is the hardest thing I've ever been through. But the joy that my daughter brought me in the three months that I had the privilege of expecting her brings a smile to my face. She is missed. Terribly and deeply. But one day I will go to her and the expectation of that reunion brings happiness.
"Goodnight, sweet prince(ss) and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." -Shakespeare Hamlet