So far this week

A little update about what's been going on this week.....

My sister flew out from Oregon and met me in Florida to photograph a house I did there...in a previous life and little bit still, I was/am an interior designer. We spent 3 days there and my clients were so accommodating, considering they were still in boxes having only moved a couple of weeks ago. But the timing was great so that Naomi could be here in GA with us for the dedication at the Atlanta Speech School and for the upcoming candle lighting ceremony.

The day before the dedication, Naomi, my mom, and I took the girls to OT...it was going to be a fun little outing with just the girls. Avery and Lily did great, although their therapist did challenge them quite a bit, which they didn't much appreciate. Afterwards they were in the waiting room playing and I went to load our stuff in the car. Naomi came running out saying that Avery's nose was bleeding! I ran back in and my mom and the therapist had her in the bathroom...there was blood gushing from her bottom lip. Apparently she fell off a stool...now this stool couldn't have been more than 9" off the ground and still she busted her lip wide open. There was an EMS station right next door, my mom made a mad dash to get someone to come help and they came right over. They couldn't really do anything other than make sure she didn't have a concussion or anything...so we went to the nearest hospital with a Children's ER. She had to get two stitches...while the doctor was sewing her up she was saying "all done...all done"...she was ready to get out of there! But, wow what a tough little girl...I know my mom and I were more freaked out than she was.

While I was in the exam room with Avery, Lily was out in the waiting room with Mimi and Naomi. She was eating animal crackers, trying to offer them to Avery who wasn't there, and flirting with an older boy!!!!

My dad and my stepmom drove down from NC for the dedication and Gampa got to babysit the girls while the rest of us headed into Atlanta to the Speech School. The instant I saw Zoe's teacher I started to cry. Zoe's last lesson with Linda had been just 9 days before she died. I remember that lesson so clearly, we brought the whole entourage Mimi, Avery, Lily, Zoe, and Zoe's nurse. I remember I had them all dressed in these precious little knit dresses...same style different colors, with their matching shoes and bows in their hair. They had such a good time, we were just starting to introduce babydolls...so, so precious.

The dedication was so wonderful. So intimate, perfect, and beautiful. Linda had balloons in the shape of stars because she found a quote that said something like "stars are the angel's windows from Heaven". She gave Richard and I a big red heart balloon and we all wrote messages and drew pictures for Zoe on the balloons. Comer Yates opened with a very kind welcome and then Linda spoke about Zoe and what she meant to her. She is going to send me a copy of a part of what she said where she wrote it as if Zoe was talking. She was so right on...I could completely feel like Zoe was talking through Linda to us all.

After Linda spoke the PTC presented the statue which is a beautiful cherub angel in a bronze color with a plaque that read "this garden is dedicated in loving memory of Zoe Rose Sorrells". One of the parents told us the story of how they found this statue...she said that up until last week they had not found the right one and they refused to put just anything there, it had to be perfect. So last Thursday, this mom was driving her son to school and saw a complete rainbow...the first time she ever saw a complete rainbow and she said to herself...something wonderful is going to happen. The next day was the school trip to the pumpkin patch and on the way another mom called this mom and said "I saw the angel in the window of an antique shop...you have to stop and get it on your way back." So she did and it was perfect! The hair, the little mouth shaped like a heart, the chubby cheeks and legs and cute little tush...it really looks like Zoe with wings! And....the finish of the statue matched the plaque perfectly which they had made well before finding the statue.

After the presentation of the statue I spoke...here is what I said:

I want to start by thanking so many of our family members for being here with us today. I also want to thank Comer Yates and the Atlanta Speech School as well as the PTC and the Katherine Hamm Center for conducting this dedication for our daughter, Zoe Rose.

When Mary wrote to me that this idea was being formulated, my jaw literally dropped as I read the words. I knew that Zoe had created a special place in Mary’s heart and in Linda’s heart, but I never expected the school to do something so wonderful. We were by all accounts the least active family in this school. I didn’t participate in the PTC, we didn’t go to the pumpkin patch, we didn’t have breakfast with Santa; we just came once a week for our lessons with Linda and we left as quickly as possible to avoid any possible illness or infection. Richard and I stand here today with hearts so full of appreciation for this act of kindness.

For the last several months, I have tried to write down my words of gratitude for Linda Lasker. I have failed miserably so I’m sure she’s wondering why she never got a thank you letter. So I will attempt now to explain what Linda meant to me as Zoe’s mother, to our family, and especially to Zoe.

From the first moment Richard and I sat down on the sofa in the apartment to find out if Zoe was a candidate for the parent infant program, we were immediately sold on the fact that Linda had an immense wealth of knowledge of hearing impairment (which we seriously lacked) and how to teach these children effectively. She asked us to observe a couple of the toddler classes and we were amazed as she pointed out the children who were profoundly deaf….these children spoke more clearly than many non-hearing impaired children I’ve come across. So the decision to start the program as soon as possible was a no-brainer.

When we started in August of last year, Zoe still did not have a discharge date from the NICU, she was nearly 8 months old….it could be a month, two months, three months, so I just asked Linda to meet me at the hospital once a week. Little did I know what a ruckus this would cause with the hospital administration. We were rudely and unprofessionally interrupted during one of our sessions at Zoe’s bedside and I have never been so mad in all my life until that point. Linda handled the situation with much more grace and dignity than I did; and that evening called me from her home to discuss the situation and brainstorm about what we could do.

After many phone calls, heated discussions and a patient care conference with way too many hospital people…we were told Linda needed non-medical credentialing. Linda completed the paperwork, got her shots, and took CPR in a matter of maybe 3 or 4 days! I honestly think the hospital was trying to put up a brick wall to keep her from coming in. But...they didn't know Linda! Her expediency in jumping through these hoops astonished me, I did not expect someone who was not emotionally attached or related to my daughter to do this. But this is who Linda is, she is a champion for these children, she takes a very personal investment in these young lives, and Zoe was no different.

While we waited and waited and waited…..and waited for hospital approval, Linda agreed to let me bring one or both of Zoe’s sisters to the lessons so that at least I could continue to learn how to begin to work effectively with Zoe. We all know how important Early Intervention is, and we had no time to lose.

Hospital approval came exactly one week before Zoe was discharged…in October. Gee, thanks! At any rate, we continued with Linda every week until a week before she passed away. Through the 4 months that Linda actually got to work directly with Zoe, the improvement in Zoe’s ability to communicate and her general development in receptive and expressive language was amazing. Zoe could understand simple commands like kick, kick…shake, shake… chew, chew…she knew mommy, daddy, her sisters, her nurse, her grandmothers, she knew a ball from a block, and she could locate familiar sounds ten feet away…watching this child grow in ways that we were told would take years, was extraordinarily gratifying…Zoe had a bright future…thanks to Linda’s dedication, her experience, her love, and her personal investment in our lives.

Richard and I continue to try to find ways to ensure that Zoe leaves behind a legacy embodying the qualities she possessed….strength, willpower, courage, determination, joy and unconditional acceptance and love for all people. We thank you for assisting us in this quest. I hope that as new parents filter through the school and children walk by this beautiful statue they will be encouraged to know that each child here has a very special guardian angel looking over them and cheering them on. I hope that when they see Zoe’s picture or maybe even hear a little about her life story that they won’t be saddened…but will be encouraged to hear of a baby who overcame incredible odds at the moment of her birth; and with the assistance of everyone here at the Speech School, especially Linda Lasker, these children will know that they matter, that hearing impairment does nothing to limit the fullness of their life or the path of their future.

Somehow I got through all that, I know God had one elbow and Zoe had the other...then one of the little girls from the school gave me flowers and put flowers next to the statue. Another little one read a poem by Hans Christen Andersen. Richard and I decided to donate Zoe's hearing aids to the school to be given to a child in need. I presented Zoe's baby pink hearing aids to another student. Then we sent the balloons off to Zoe.

It was very emotional, heartwarming, sad....you name it, we felt it. Linda has a big photo of Zoe matted and framed hanging in the apartment where all the babies come through for their lessons with her. I know Zoe was there that day with us. It was one of the first times that I really felt a very strong presence...I just know she was there watching us, listening, and hopefully nodding her head when we talked about all the ways she has touched us and how that will change lives. Linda is planning workshops in Zoe's name for other professionals dealing with hearing screening tests in micropreemies. So, here we are, 8 months after she died and wonderful things are happening in her name. I know I'm her mom so I'm especially partial to her...but I think she's incredible. I think she is working hard up there in Heaven helping God coordinate all of us down here to do the right thing for all these kids and their parents. Zoe...I hope we're making you proud!

Oh..one other interesting note...one of our family members had a dream about Zoe a couple of months ago...she told me that Zoe was about 3 or so and was holding her hand, wearing a sweater and red plaid skirt. She said that there were a bunch of other kids laughing and playing, but she didn't know who they were. She said Zoe would run out and play with the kids and then run back and hold her hand for a while and then run out and play and then come back. After being at the dedication...she told me that her dream could have taken place right where we were, but she had never been there before..........angels are all around us!

One last note....I think Avery may have a future in medicine because when we came home from the dedication I looked at her and her stitches were out! Somehow she got them out, but my dad said he never noticed anything, she hadn't cried, she hadn't bled...she must have been biting at them or something and maybe swallowed them or something. Luckily the doctor said we didn't need to worry, that it wasn't infected and they wouldn't need to put the stitches back in (thank goodness).

As soon as my sister gets back from doing portraits in NC I'll put up some photos from the dedication, she got some wonderful shots. She'll also be photographing the remembrance ceremony this weekend. Which by the way is up to 210 babies! Since the article was written I've gotten a lot of response and support from folks all around our town. It should be quite an event to say the least. So far the weather looks like it will cooperate too...fingers crossed!


Jen Clark said...

It sounds like a beautiful dedication ceremony, and your words to Linda were perfect. She sounds like an amazing woman. Praying for perfect weather for the candle-lighting ceremony!

Jessica said...

Keira- Just wanted you to know again I am thinking of you. The dedication sounds so beautiful and I know the ceremony on Saturday is going to be amazing. I wish I could be there. Thank you for honoring all of our babies.

Dorinda said...

I'm so glad the dedication ceremony went well. That is wonderful that they did that for you and Zoe! I can't wait to hear how everything went tonight.

Still praying for you guys...

nancy said...

This was a beautiful tribute, Keira.



All time favorite video of Zoe!

Popular Posts

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