Day 21: Honor
After receiving Avery's name from Carly in Australia we decided we would honor Avery during our travels by writing her name wherever we go. I love the idea of having pictures of her with us wherever we visit. She may not physically be on our trips but she's always in our hearts no matter where we go and this is how we chose to honor that.
Since then, the idea has spread and we've had family and friends take Avery on their trips with them. Avery has been all over the US and the world.
This is a small sampling of the hundreds of pictures we have of Avery's travels around the world.
Day 22: Words
As I've said many times, I don't know where I would be without my eternal hope that I have through my beliefs. God has held us and comforted us through our darkest days. Even when I pulled away, He was there. This verse reminds me that He is the God of all comforts. And as He has comforted us, it's now my goal to be there for others who are grieving their babies.
The loss of Avery will not be swept under the rug as a bad thing that happened. I will use the loss of Avery to bring attention to pregnancy and infant loss. I will use my experiences-good and bad-since losing Avery to be there for others going through the similar situations. I will use my tribulation to help others. I will be her voice since she cannot have one. I will make a difference because of her.
Day 23: Tattoos/Jewelry
My husband was never big on tattoos. But after losing Avery, he knew he wanted one for her. We took a trip with his brothers and their wives within a few weeks to get his tattoo. It's pretty, girly and pink-a perfect representation of our little princess. I knew I wanted to follow suit but it took awhile for me to make a decision. I had a great friend sketch out my idea to incorporate her name, a heart and an infinity symbol. It represents my infinite love for her. I got it done the day before my 28th birthday, 1 day shy of the year mark of us finding out Avery was Avery.
Over the last 16 months I've also collected a number of necklaces that mean the world to me. The one with her initial, birthdate and birthstone I had picked out before she was born but we lost her before I could order it. I decided I still wanted it and it was the first piece of jewelry I have for her. The next was made by a sweet baby loss mom, Lori, using a butterfly. Butterflies have their way of always crossing my path now and I always feel it's Avery saying hi. The next I fell in love with when I saw it. It represents my hope for our reunion with her in Heaven. The last piece my husband bought for me last Christmas. What should have been our first as a family of 3 was a somber day. He picked this out to represent our family of 3 and how we will always be intertwined.
To some jewelry and tattoos may seem like just things and in reality they are, but to us they are physical, outward ways to show her with us daily. Other parents have their babies with them to show off, for us this is what we have.
Day 24: Artwork
My Avery sunset picture taken by Carly in Australia is still my favorite piece of artwork we've received in the last 16 months. It was actually the first piece I received after losing Avery and this sunset speaks volumes to me. When I received it there was so much about it that brought me comfort and seemed like a sign from Avery.
1st-I received it exactly 2 months after burying Avery. I had just gone back to work and was having an exceptionally hard day when I received this from Carly. It was just what I needed that day.
2nd-The colors instantly reminded me of Avery. The beautiful pinks and purples were colors that will always be associated with our girl.
3rd-I love how the sun is just barely peaking through the clouds. Avery had the cutest, chunkiest cheeks. They were so big, we really only ever got to see a small bit of her eyes shining through. The way the sun only slightly shows make me feel like Avery is in the picture, smiling with her eyes barely squinting though her cute cheeks.
This picture now hangs on a canvas in our house. Another piece of Avery we surround ourselves with to keep her close. Another way we include her in our daily life.
Day 25: #SayItOutLoud
I want the world to remember that Avery, and every baby taken too soon, is just that-a baby. A human. A person. Someone's future. Someone's hopes and dreams.
Avery was here. Avery is my daughter and always will be. She is not just a sad thing that once happened to us. She is not just a small event in history. She is a person. She deserves to be spoken of, to be remembered and to be loved just as any living child would be.
Don't write off our babies as if they didn't exist. They were and always will be a part of our everyday. Even if they never made it out of the womb, even if they were born straight into Heaven, even if they only took one breath and even if they were only here minutes, hours, days or weeks, they are our world. They are our children and should never be forgotten.
Day 26: Community
Our baby loss community has helped me find strength through our shared bond. Because of this community, I do not feel completely alone; I find reassurance that my thoughts and feelings aren't crazy but rather normal; I find courage to get through the toughest days; I find healing though sharing; I find love, compassion, understanding and friendship from people walking the same path as me. I wish none of us were a part of this community but since we are forced to be, I am thankful for the bond we have formed.
Day 27: Signs
I truly feel we've experienced many signs from Avery in Heaven. Whether it's a beautiful butterfly crossing my path bringing peace, a rainbow after a storm bringing hope, an "A" appearing randomly to make me feel she is saying hello or a cardinal showing up at just the right time, there are so many things I feel cannot just be coincidence.
Most recently and maybe one of the most clear signs was during the recent 2nd Annual Avery Diane Hanson Memorial Golf Tournament this September. Shortly after the start of the tournament this "A" appeared in the sky and could be spotted all along the golf course. I feel Avery wanted her presence to be known on a day that was completely about her. So many people saw the "A" in the sky that day. It truly brought comfort on a day that was very bittersweet.
Over the last year or so, I've blogged about some of the signs I've felt. You can read about all of them here:
Day 28: Special Place
Avery is always with me and I feel her near often. But if I had to pick the place closest to me, it would be her gravesite. It is a beautiful location under a strong, shady oak tree. While it may sound odd to some, this is the one and only place I still have that I feel I get to mother.
She doesn't need me anymore but her gravesite does. It was one of the last things we were able to do for her. From picking out the perfect spot for her to be, to designing her unique and beautiful headstone, I've been able to do for her even with her not here. I've been able to mother her special place. And Every week I continue to do so. We bring new flowers weekly, we decorate for holidays and look for cute additions to her spot that remind us of her. It's not much but it makes me feel needed still. I know it's just a place, I know she isn't really there but it's all I have left.
Day 29: Healing
I truly do not believe my wounds will be completely healed until I am with Avery again. However, I have been able to find more peace and healing than I would have thought possible 16 short months ago. I would have never thought it possible to feel happiness, joy or anything positive in June of 2012. Life stopped at that point, I fell apart and I didn't think I would ever be able to put the pieces back together.
Since then, I have started to put some of my pieces back together even though there is always going to be a big piece missing. I attribute this healing to many factors; family, friends, faith, support, connections with other moms, etc. I think what's helped me most is being able to share Avery with others. Having family or friends bring her up without my prompting adds a small stitch to the gaping hole in my heart. Sharing her with others who are on this journey helps me know she will always be a part of me. Hearing stories of how she touched the lives of complete strangers brings me great pride. Knowing that her cousins and her sister will always know her as part of our family gives me peace that she will never be forgotten.
The wounds remain and always will but sharing her with those who accept her means the world to me. It's helped me get this far in my journey and it's what will keep me going even on my darkest days.
Day 30: Growth
I changed as a person on Oct 15, 2011 when I found out we were going to be parents. I changed again on June 6, 2012 when Avery came into the world. I was a mom through and through. The second she was placed in my arms, I knew there was nothing I wouldn't do for her. Life was no longer about me, it was all about her. I was again forever changed on June 12, 2012 when my world came crashing down, when Avery left our world. In the last two years, I've been through so many changes as a person. I will never be the same person I was before Avery entered our lives.
Some days I feel more compassionate whereas others I still feel very bitter and cynical. I'm learning to embrace the new me. I will never be the carefree person I once was. It's impossible-I know too much; I've experienced too much. This world is so incredibly unfair. But at the same time, I've grown stronger as a person and found my voice. I am not as quiet or reserved about my thoughts and feelings as I once was. Avery has helped me find my voice. I don't care if talking about her or other babies taken too so makes others uncomfortable. This is life, this is the real world. It's messy and uncomfortable. Change doesn't happen when people are complacent.
I am sure I will continue to grow and change as I continue on this journey. The person I am today and the person I am 5 years from now will not be the same. But one thing will remain constant as the years pass-my love of my daughter and my passion to break the silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss.
Day 31: Sunset
As the Capture Your Grief project comes to a close I would like to thank everyone who has followed my posts and supported me sharing my grief and my thoughts this month. Your support means so much to me and I am so thankful you allow me to speak out about my journey. Even though October is coming to an end, our grief will not. It will be with us forever and it's our burden to bear. But thanks to great support, I know it's not a load I bear alone.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month but please don't forget about the families who suffer daily with their grief, please don't forget the 1:4 women who will experience the loss of a baby, please don't be afraid to speak our babies names year round. My hope is that projects like these will help break the silence surrounding pregnancy and infant loss
The sunset tonight at first looked like it would be ruined by clouds. But as I was standing on the dock, looking for a shot, I was taken aback. Not only was the sunset beautiful but there was also a rainbow burst at the far left. Id like to think its a sign from Avery of great things to come with our own rainbow.