Hours passed. Days passed.  Then a week.  A month.   A year.  Every moment takes me away from the last time.  The last time I bathed her.  The last time I changed her diaper. Fed her.  Felt her breath on skin.

The days leading up to Zoey’s death still trouble me.  In the last few days, the guilt has reared its ugly head.  I wonder if there is something more I could have done.  Or something I should have handled differently.  I spent her entire life trying to do what made her happy.  To make her comfortable.  And in those last days, I fear I failed.  I know I loved her. I know she felt it.  But there are memories, feelings that you can’t stop from washing over you. You have to take them.  You’re powerless to them. You have to hold on. Hold your breath.  You have to lay there, grasping at your chest where your child should be, sobbing until you can’t anymore.  Until you fall asleep.  Until there’s nothing left.

I look back at the photos that document her last days with us.  The ones I took before I knew they would be the last ones.  August 25th: took her to the doctor to see about a referral to a cardiac surgeon.  To fix the hole in her heart.  August 26th: the emergency room. Checking to see if she had an intestinal blockage.  The ones where she looks so miserable.  Swollen. Uncomfortable.  Unhappy. We put in a feeding tube that night at the hospital.  Thought it was the right choice.  She ripped it out as soon as we got home.  I think she was telling me.  I didn’t listen.   It was the night we could not soothe her.  Joe was out of town.  My mom stayed with me at the house.  I snuck away for the first time in her life to my own bed.  Only for an hour or so.   August 27: our nurse came to the house and put in a new feeding tube. I swaddled her so she couldn’t get her little hands to it.  She did not like to be swaddled.  And then the call.   The one where they said they saw something on the scan from the emergency room they didn’t see before.  Take out the tube.  Give her morphine.  Hold her.  Prepare to say goodbye.  The 28th: I took a selfie with Zoey.  I was embarrassed to ask someone else to take my picture with my dying child.  I was afraid they’d think it was weird.  That I shouldn’t record that day with a photo.  But she looks peaceful.  Resting against my chest.

Joe and I had given her a bath earlier that morning.  She hated bath time, but it just seemed like it was the only thing I had left do to for her.  And while we were drying her off, she opened her eyes for the last time.  She was telling us goodbye.  And then I just held her.  Nestled next to my heart—the place she belonged.  I felt her heart beat for the last time.  Quietly, softly she slipped from this earth.  The moment her soul left us was as peaceful and beautiful as it could be.

I wanted her heart to start beating again.  I wanted all the conversations about her dying to be worst case scenario imaginations. I did not want her to leave me.  I’d already told her that it was okay.  That I understood .  That she’d see her grandpa and great-grandma and Hattie.  That she wouldn’t be alone.  And that we’d always love her.

The hours after haunt me.  Feeling her body go cold.  Stiffening.  I changed her clothes.  Wondered if I should put on a diaper.  Or leave her without.  I kept layering blankets on her—unaware that the funeral director really just wanted another one to cover her.

I didn’t want it to be real.

And then I had to give her away.  I touched those tiny little bunny feet for the last time.  Tried to burn the memory of her blue eyes.  And kissed her goodbye.

I love you Zoey Tamsyn. I miss you. You were the best part of me and gave me the most amazing months of my life.  You changed me.  You taught me so much. You continue to teach me.  Resilience. Love. Hope.  I pray my love finds you wherever you are.

Day of Hope


Over the last year I’ve taken part in a few projects aimed at healing my broken heart-if even just a little bit.  Today is another one. I found the August 19th Day of Hope prayer flag project.  A prayer flag is a tradition in Tibet.  It’s a piece of material often inscribed with mantras, prayers, messages, poems or names.  The belief is that once the Prayer Flag is hung, the breeze takes the prayers and carries them all over the world.  They are meant to spread good will and compassion everywhere.

I created a prayer flag honoring Zoey.  As I’ve said before, our version of hope changed many times over her life and now that she’s passed. I still hope for her story to be told.  I hope for people to say her name.  I hope others remember her and all the other little ones lost.  I hope to find peace and joy again.

I wanted to create something with things that reminded me of her.  A chance to tell her story again.  Obviously an anchor had to be included.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul firm and secure.

Hebrews 6:19

The strips of fabric all have meaning as well.  I’ll start from the bottom.

Zebra print: Reminds me of the Zoo where we celebrated Zoey’s life.  She also has a memorial brick there.

Sparkly blue: I like to picture her at the beach, tiny toes in the sand, watching the way the water glistens as the sun hits it.

Pink polka dots: My weighted Zoey bear has a pink and white polka dot bow.

Fabric from my wedding dress: One of my favorite pictures of Zoey has her wrapped in my wedding dress (the one I wore at the Zoo at our wedding reception).  She looks like a little angel in it.  When we knew we were getting those photos taken, I searched everywhere I could think of for the flowers I wore in my hair that day so she could have those with her too.

Rainbow: Hope for finding our rainbow. I don’t know what form that will come.  Rainbows are beauty after the storm.  I see the storm as losing her.  I don’t know if it’s in the cards for us to have a “rainbow baby” but I know there has to be beauty left in this life for us.  Maybe it’s another child, maybe a house on the beach.  Maybe it’s just finding peace.

Owl and Butterfly: In memory of Evey and Hattie.  Zoey’s friends.  I send prayers for their families for peace and strength. And I hope those three beautiful girls are together. Laughing and playing and watching over us.

Sea turtle: we placed Zoey’s ashes in biodegradable sea turtles urns. It is my hope that when we visit the ocean that I feel her presence.  

Kitty cat: My cat, Cece, slept on my belly while I was pregnant and also with Zoey and me in our recliner after she came home with us. I was worried about how Cece would react to Zoey when we brought her home, but she was not phased.  Cece often curled up on Zoey’s things: her blankets, her boppy pillow.  There are so many pictures of Zoey that also have Cece in them.  I like to think they were buddies.  And Cece watched over and protected her.

Pink flowers: There’s a flower called a spider plant.  My great-grandmother grew them at her house.  They always remind me of her and the great love I have for her.  There’s just something about a day at grandma’s house that makes the world a little better.  We took Zoey to a local park and came across those flowers so I have a picture of her with them.  And now she’s with my great-grandmother.  I hope Zoey is hearing about the days I spent with my great-grandma.  How she’d make me French toast and fried chicken whenever I wanted.  How we’d walk to the park and always stop at the little ice cream shop on the way home for a chocolate dipped cone.

Mickey Mouse: I felt an overwhelming need to go to Disney World when I was pregnant with Zoey. I wanted her to feel the magic.  And I ran the Disney Princess race in her memory and will do so again this year. It’s one little way I feel I can keep saying her name and do something in her memory.

Blue fabric: Her eyes. Those beautiful, piercing blue eyes. The ones that said so much without a word.

As I put the flag up tonight, I sent my wishes for all those who are hurting from the loss of their child.  Wishes that our babies are remembered. Wishes for peace.  Wishes for love. Wishes for hope.DSC06716DSC07030 DSC07369 DSC07513







It’s been “one of those days”.  One where you find yourself sitting on the bathroom floor crying.  One where you flee your house after finding a burp cloth hidden away under the couch cushions.  At one point today, I was sitting out back staring at the little pumpkin I’d pulled from the vine growing in the yard.  It made me think about the one pumpkin that grew from the same container when I first found out I was pregnant with Zoey.  The one I thought was a sign from my dad. And I smiled. And then I cried.  Because everything here at this house is like that– two sides to every memory.  Every moment of light followed by a dark shadow.  Every happy moment halted by that familiar lump in your throat.

The chair we slept in every night nestled together along with Cece the cat is the same chair I held her the last night.  The night where I didn’t sleep because I didn’t want to wake up to find her gone.  The night I thought she took her last breath only to calm her and feel her relax and exhale another breath against my skin.

The couch where I’d lay her wrapped in her hooded kitty towel after bath time so I could dry her off and where I kissed her cheek over and over until she turned and licked me is the same couch where I held her as her heart stopped beating.

The driveway we pulled into on our way home from the hospital and I told my baby girl that she was home. Where Joe took our picture next to the balloons and sign announcing “It’s a Girl!”.  It’s the same driveway where I kissed her the last time and placed her in the front seat of the car that would take her away from me for the last time.  Where Joe had to pick me up off the ground and help me into the house.

Everything here is where she was. I’ve thought about moving– packing up her things, taking her picture down from the mantel and starting over somewhere else.  But this place where she died and where we feel the overwhelming emptiness is also where she lived.