October 18, 2008

The first annual Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness candle lighting ceremony went very well. Considering we had not figured out the layout until the very moment we got to the courthouse...it all went very well. I want to personally thank Richard for his undying love and support no matter how difficult I can be at times, my mom and Cindy for watching the girls so Richard and I could do this, and my team of supportive friends and helpers Naomi, Stephanie, Laura, Melissa, Alice, Lisa, and Sondae...without you all we would not have started on time and the ceremony would not have gone so smoothly. Thank you all so very much. I am officially making you the Remembrance Ceremony Committee for next year!!!

We had a few local families attend and honor their babies along with a handful of other close friends and family who came out to support us in our quest to remember Zoe, our other two angels and all the other babies who were so lovingly shared with us that night.

Following is the speech I gave and the order of events.

Thank you all for coming this evening as we honor and remember so many children, gone too soon. I am Keira Sorrells. My husband, Richard, and I formed the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation after our daughter’s sudden and untimely death in February of this year. Many of you may have seen the story in the Tribune on Sunday written so beautifully by Robbie Schwartz. For those of you that did not I’d like to share a bit of our story with you.

Zoe is one of our triplet girls, all of whom were born nearly 15 weeks early in December of 2006. Due to their prematurity they spent several months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Zoe, however did not come home until she was almost 10 months old. She was a very happy baby, she had green eyes that danced, a smile that warmed many hearts and a laugh so deep her entire body shook with joy. She was however medically fragile and immuno compromised.

Zoe caught the flu in February sending us back to the hospital for 5 days. She came home the day before Valentine’s Day only to be rushed back a day and a half later. Zoe died in our arms the next morning.

The experience of parenting in the NICU was difficult. The experience of losing Zoe is beyond comprehension. There is no description, no combination of words that can truly express the depth of this pain and grief.

After she died I began a search for other mothers like me who had lost a baby or child. I had to know what life would be like without Zoe…could I actually go on and continue being a mother to Zoe’s sisters and a wife to my husband? Would I ever find joy and meaning in life again? Would I ever learn to live with this crater of emptiness in my soul?

I found more and more women like me. Women who gave birth to stillborn babies, women who lost their babies in the first, second, and third trimester, women with perfectly healthy pregnancies and newborns only to have the child die months later due to SIDS or other illness, women who lost one or more babies of a multiple pregnancy and had to continue to carry their dead child until the birth of the survivors. What I found in each and every one of these women is the common bond of the immense grief and pain that is losing your child.

It does not matter if that woman lost her baby due to miscarriage, or like us, if she got a chance to hold and look into the eyes of her child. Every baby, every child’s life is valuable no matter how many or how few breaths they take outside the womb.

In my quest for support I also found that other women, like me, craved to speak about their lost child. We do this because to stop speaking of them will send them into the past, into the background where no one remembers. We crave keeping these children alive with us in some way, any way possible to continue to believe that they existed, that their lives had meaning, that there was a reason we had them at all.

When a parent dies, the child becomes an orphan, when a spouse dies, the remaining husband or wife becomes a widow…there is no title for a parent who loses a child…other than survivor.

Death is rarely spoken of in today’s world. This fact is even more true when a child dies and even more so in the case of miscarriage. As bereaved parents we search for ways to remember and honor our children. We must learn that love transcends the physical touch of a hug or a kiss…because we no longer have this luxury, if we ever had it at all.

So, at least once a year we ask the community at large to help remember and honor our babies. In 1988 Ronald Reagan made a Presidential Proclamation announcing that October 15th would be observed as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. This came after the hard and unrelenting work of one bereaved mother.

So tonight, as we light over 200 candles, 1 for each baby we know of, that was so lovingly shared by their strong surviving mothers. We will speak their names…not their age or cause of death because it does not matter…all that matters is the simple act of love, the act of remembering and honoring these children whose lives were cut way too short.

I’d like to read a poem that has been passed around my various support groups
"I'm There Inside Your Heart"

Right now I'm in a different place
And though we seem far apart,
I'm closer than I ever was...
I'm there inside your heart.

I'm with you when you greet each day
And while the sun shines bright,
I'm there to share the sunsets, too...
I'm with you every night.

I'm with you when the times are good
To share a laugh or two,
And if a tear should start to fall
I'll still be there for you.

And when the day arrives
That we no longer are apart,
I'll smile and hold you close to me...
Forever in my heart.

We will now begin lighting the candles and I ask any parents or family members with children represented here to step forward and light their child's candle.

After all candles are lit….We will now light a candle in recognition of the thousands and millions of babies around the world that we don’t know the names of.

I’d now like to read another poem written by a bereaved mother by the name of Kaye Des'Ormeaux. She wrote this poem as if her deceased daughter was speaking
My Mom is a Survivor

My Mom is a survivor,
or so I've heard it said.
But I can hear her crying at night
when all others are in bed.

I watch her lay awake at night
and go to hold her hand.
She doesn't know I'm with her
to help her understand.

But like the sands on the beach
that never wash away....
I watch over my surviving Mom
who thinks of me each day.

She wears a smile for others...
a smile of disguise!
But through Heaven's door
I see tears flowing from her eyes.

My Mom tries to cope with death;
To keep my memory alive.
But anyone who knows her knows
it is her way to survive.

As I watch over my surviving Mom
through Heaven's open door...
I try to tell her that angels
protect me forevermore!

I know that doesn't help her,
or ease the burden she bears.
So, if you get a chance, go visit her.
Show her that you care.

For no matter what she says...
no matter what she feels.
My surviving Mom has a broken heart
that time won't ever heal.

Copyright 1998 Kaye Des'Ormeaux

Thank you all so much for sharing this very special evening with us. And just remember, when you meet someone who has lost a child the best thing you can say when you can’t find any other words are “I am so very sorry.”

I am still planning to upload the video...I just haven't gotten that far yet!


McTriplet Mommy said...

Awesome. I am so proud to say that I know you and can call you "friend." What a beautiful thing you did this weekend.

Take care,

rachael said...

beautiful, moving, touching...

Elizabeth said...

Keira, The ceremony sounds like it was beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing your words with us and for including my son Evan in your ceremony.

Candace Hickey said...

Keira, I was thinking of you all this past Saturday...again, what an amazing woman you are...thank you for sharing the ceremony.

Jen Clark said...

it sounds beautiful, keira! i was praying for you on saturday. thanks again for including shiloh in the ceremony. (((hugs)))

Kyrsten said...

Thank you *so much* for including my beloved firstborn in your ceremony (I "know" you from eLIMBO).

The poem is gorgeous; it eases my heart a little to know our precious little ones are not forgotten.


I am a Mom from the phh-loss group. What you did for all of us was amazing thank you so much for everything that you did to bring awareness and care to all of us. It was beautiful! Your girls are gorgeous and are lucky to have you for their Mom- especially little Zoe Rose. I was happy to see her name in the sand a few days before my angels were there. You are an amazing person! Thank you!
Mommy to three angels in heaven
10/25/05, 7/5/06 & 2/11/07

Misty said...

I thought of you all weekend. I was with the QQS group with MOST and we all talked about you and how special you are to do this. This was amazingly beautiful & moving. I'm honored to know you!
You are an amazingly strong women. Zoe must be up there telling everyone who will listen, "my mom ROCKS!!"

Anonymous said...

I just watched the slideshow and cried! All of those beautiful angels you remembered on Saturday are smiling down from heaven thanks to you. That was such an amazing way to honor them. Thank you from my family and especially Colin!

Beth & Steven said...

Absolutely beautiful and so very touching...

All time favorite video of Zoe!

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Bible verses that comfort me

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children....Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them"
~ Mark10:14 & 10:16

"...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint"~ Isaiah40:31