Thank you so much for being here. My name is Jason. Richard and Keira have asked that I and other friends and family speak on their behalf – to lead today’s remembrance. Richard and I have been each other’s closest friend for about 21 years. I met Keira about 13 years ago and fell in love with her spirit almost as fast as Richard did. Their families are here. From all over. And they would like for me to extend their deepest gratitude to you all for being here – to honor; to appreciate and to understand; and to celebrate the life of their little Warrior Princess – Zoe Rose Sorrells.
We’re not here to be afraid to talk to about Zoe. We are here with a purpose. To congregate so that we as a family can fill our hearts and minds with sweet thoughts, her story of survival and inspiration; and those funny little idiosyncrasies about Zoe, her life and the way she touched ours.
And while sadness overwhelms us, Zoe’s family wants us to find the joy. Pain does not need a voice at a time like this. But joy does. We are going to focus on the joy – look inside yourself – ask yourself to feel joy – it’s hard – but we are here – together – sitting shoulder to shoulder – side by side – holding hands – arms around one another – thinking about Zoe and each other - together – much stronger together than apart - to fill this room and the hearts of us all with an everlasting feeling of joy about Zoe and her amazing, unfettered pursuit of life and love and laughter.
SONG (Amazing Grace rendition by Chris Tomlin)
Zoe was the Big Sister when she and Lily and Avery were born – technically she was the last born, which made her the younger or little sister, but Zoe had the weight – she was the biggest at 1 lb 10 ozs. Richard and Keira knew all along that she was the biggest because of all the ultrasounds Keira had along the way – so even before she was born Zoe was given the type of responsibility that came along with being the biggest. Knowing Zoe and her zest for all things, I like to think she was sort of the director of birthing services inside the womb – she took charge of the birthing order. Was there. Letting her smaller sisters go before her, an eye on their safety – probably with an encouraging word to watch their heads as they exited – mind your feet on the way out. To make sure they got out safely.
All the girls had a tough introduction to life – Zoe’s became the most difficult.
As adults we have to learn how to rise to those challenges, which ensnare us in the fabric of our lives. We learn what it means to use our will to overcome. But it’s something that we learn over time – slowly, painfully. It’s something, however, that Zoe was able to do from the minute – she was born.
Zoe was talked about a lot – talked about by doctors, by nurses, by specialists, by practitioners of all kinds. And they talked and talked and talked about her – standing over her bed in the NICU, outside in the waiting room – statistics, lab reports, charts – chances of this and that. Richard and Keira were told on numerous occasions Zoe will not survive this night. Standing there – stripped of all power – helpless parents – unable to do anything but turn their eyes and hearts to the two pound baby lying in the incubator – ask her to do what they – in their 30 plus years of life experience – never had to do. Zoe didn’t care about all that doctor talk. Like even the tiniest of diamonds, her eyes sparkled – and with a greater unspoken understanding, Zoe pressed on. See, Zoe was listening to a different kind of talk. Talk about love – about God – about playing with her sisters. Watching football with Dad. Singing songs with grandparents. Looking at pictures with mom. Learning words. Hearing the about the world. Secret promises of chocolate cake.
Some days so sick – they asked Richard and Keira to not even talk – that the smallest disturbance would cause stress – in those moments, Zoe would just bear down and survive. Such wonderful survival.
With the weight of the world on her – all the hopes and prayers – to just hang on – and then the sun would rise again – and so would Zoe – still there – unlike any fighter you’ve ever seen – like a glorious tree that grows out of a rock – and finds it’s way through darkness into the light – Zoe overcame.
She didn’t like all those tubes, but figured it out and smiled through it. Actually smiled and laughed and kicked her legs and waved her arms like … What tubes? We all would be somewhat concerned about the tubes and electrical equipment … but not Zoe.
When she pushed herself to improve and then did – guess who was talking again – but this time those doctors were not analyzing statistics or charts – they were not referring to text or publications – instead, when they saw Zoe’s miraculous feats of survival again and again they would say such scholarly medical things such as, Holy cow or wow.
After being born almost fifteen weeks early and after almost ten months in the hospital, Zoe went home. She became the success story for all the other babies around the country who hoped to followed in her footsteps. She became the one doctors told their patients’ families about. The one they could be. She was the baby all other babies strived to become. Little warrior princess Zoe Rose.
She was able to live beyond those challenges. Her hospital bed became her playground and her home her oasis.
I lift up my eyes to the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
The maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you
The LORD is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm
He will watch over your life;
The LORD will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forevermore.
Richard and Keira and their family want you to know that Zoe had such wonderful interactions with everyone who took a minute just to lean over her crib or stop by and lay down on the floor with her to play.
She had such pride in the strides that she made to each level of her development – she got such a kick of sharing those moments of connection with you. Whether it was playing with Keira’s hair or holding Richards fingers – listening to her Daddy talk about the splendors of life or Keira teaching her words and pictures.
She loved her Namo’s long dangly earrings – so much so and with such great enthusiasm and joy and laughter – that anyone who wanted immediate approval from Zoe would put on a pair just to ensure their chance to see her glowing smile, including Zoe’s own doctor who after several disappointing months of no smiles decided to throw caution and hospital dress-code to the wind and put some wildly sparkly dangly things just to get that smile she had heard so much about.
Zoe loved to play but she also loved to watch her sister’s play. She’d turn her shoulders and look up and around to Lily or Avery sitting only a foot or two away – and she’d reached out – quickly at first and then ever so politely – push her hand forward – just to let you know she was in the game – she could take that doll if she wanted to – then she’d pull her hand back and kick her legs and laugh through her soft little vocal cords just pleased as pie over her little game – she had such wonderful interaction – to see her learning – see how she loved to be part of it all – at home on the floor with mom and dad just like her sisters.
Because she overcame such overwhelming odds, you felt like she had an innate ability to read you – to look IN-TO-YOU – and you so desperately wanted her to think you were alright – that you were one of the good ones – which she graciously did think with everybody.
Even the man who delivered oxygen to the house for Zoe every two weeks or so sat in the driveway and cried when he learned about Zoe – bc of the way she touched his life.
POEMS - The first poem was written by our 13 year old niece Laura, both poems were read by my sister Naomi
Your smile shines so big,
Brighter than the sun.
Your eyes are so full of wonder,
The world could see with one.
Your heart is so full of strength,
Sending love ton after ton.
You could hold the world up with your tiny body,
All the while having fun.
You will always LIVE these things for me.
Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.Let it not be a death but completeness.Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way. ~Rabindranath Tagore
SONG (Down to the River to Pray by Allison Krauss)
POEM written by Richard and I and read by our dear friend "Red"
OUR SWEET ZOE ROSE
On December 20, 2006 three splendid beings entered our world
Mommy and Daddy were blessed with Avery Ruth, Lily Anne, and Sweet Zoe Rose
With each passing day hurdles were overcome and milestones achieved
All things most healers thought were impossible
Our Sweet Zoe Rose encountered countless nurses, specialists and therapists
Within minutes these caregivers came to see what Mommy and Daddy learned with their first glance
Her presence is awe inspiring, her beauty timeless and transcendent
Miss Zoe Rose captures your heart in minutes and never lets go
In spite of the many immediate and ongoing challenges that faced this wondrous little girl
These were just minor inconveniences to her greater good and faultless outlook on life
Every minute, every second of each day was cherished and greeted with a beaming smile
Her teachings made all those she captivated feel deeper and love stronger
You never let anything hold you back and now all the devices, connections, tubing, and alarms are forever gone, never to return
You are running free, playing at peace, climbing mountaintops and sailing the seas
Carry us with you in your travels as we hold you deep in our hearts
So in this time of our greatest despair and heartache we will…
Awake from our slumber, lift our beautifully curled eyelashes and use our angelic almond eyes to look our challenges head on with breathtaking resolve
We will stand tall and laugh with each hurdle overcome and milestone achieved in honor of you… our sweet Zoe Rose
Jump up on Papa and ride high atop his sturdy shoulders
Sit in Norm’s lap and listen to his stories
Go with Lila to learn all things beautiful
Take Carl’s secure hand and touch all that is lovely
Walk with Thelma through the colorful, aromatic rose gardens
Bake cookies with Emmy and sing songs
Discover the world and paint masterpieces with Karl
Stay close to your great grandparents and look down upon us eternally
You will forever be with Mommy, Daddy, Avery & Lily
Each of our hearts overwhelmed by your presence and full of joy
It is with all of our love we say to you…
You are dearly missed, completely adored and tearfully honored today and forevermore
Our Sweet Zoe Rose
MOMENT OF SILENT PRAYER
OPEN THE FLOOR TO ANYONE WHO WISHES TO RECALL A FAVORITE MEMORY OF ZOE. Zoe's primary nurse at Northside, Susan, got up and spoke beautifully about our baby girl
It’s not just our memory of her that will be with us – Zoe will be with us – she is with us .
These emotions, these tears are produced for her; They are the tangible product of our feelings for her
To feel them on our faces, on our checks – is to feel her
To feel the muscles in our sides when we laugh about her silliness and joy is to feel her
And there are of course her wonderful and brave sisters who have also survived such incredible odds. Lily and Avery.
And when you see Lily and Avery – you cannot help but to see Zoe
to see them run – you will see her run
Hear them laugh – they’ll laugh for her too
Although she had a smile not duplicated anywhere … it is fortunately in part on the faces of her sisters.
Zoe was a cherub in life, she’s clearly an angel now.
And as an angel, she will always be right where you need her.
SONG (In My Daughter’s Eyes by Martina McBride)