Happy 19th Birthday Day Faith

I was recently asked how do I define a full and complete life. It was a deviation from my “normal”. How could someone consider someone’s life that ended in childhood complete. It kept in my mind and I gave it great thought. Being the person that I am and needing to quantify it all somehow, I was drawn to look at this blog and the statistics from the day Faith died. There were a crazy number of visitors to each of the blog entries with the final entry of her life “A Journey’s End” receiving over 2,800 views.

All those numbers and statistics were meaningless when I did something I probably have not done in 10 years. I read the comments for that post. I was most impacted by the following:

How its possible that your heart can break over a child or family you have never met? I am soooo sorry for your loss. There are no words. God bless you all and sweet Faith. love and prayers

I still do not believe I have ever met its author or so many more just like it. So, to answer the question that was put forth to me. Does someone’s life need to be long to be meaningful, No. I know her 8 1/2 years touched so many people she met, and many more she did not. That’s more powerful than the footprint I will leave behind. While in my heart I will never feel it complete, I will never doubt that it was meaningful and impactful.

Her existence was brief. But, much like the first domino in a succession, her impact will be felt far into the future.

Happy 10th Angelversary

Not many know that Faith was not our first loss, we are parents to 7 children 3 on earth and 4 in heaven.  The difference being we never got to hold and know 3 but had 8 ½ wonderful years with Faith.

In preparation for the 10th Angelversary I started researching grief and was going to write a thesis on how grief was handled by different communities and cultures.  My focus was going to be specific to how a child’s death affected the parent, family, and cohesion of them. My intent was so I could provide a meaningful blog entry to celebrate the life of Faith rather than some meaningless platitude.

What I found was there wasn’t enough information, it was depressing, and I soon realized that anyone could search the internet for the same, but it doesn’t really apply to Faith or her family and our experience.  So, I trashed everything I had and just waited for late night inspiration to guide my fingers on the keyboard.

It’s 10 years later.  Abbey and Jess have graduated college and are pursuing their professional careers.  Abbey is now married, and I have a wonderful new daughter in law that brings great joy to our family. Jon is still living with us and determining what he wants to be when he grows up one day, as I still am doing as well.  Sue continues to be a School Nurse.  All in all life goes on, we haven’t self-destructed.  Our experiences in both the life of Faith and her tragic death have steeled us and given us strength and a perspective on life that can only be learned by the terrible experience of it all.

Here I speak for myself and my experience. It wasn’t easy by any means, every day there is a moment when Faith enters my thoughts, more recently the good times vs the bad.  The first 3 years were just hating the world and everything in it.  When someone said “Have a nice day” I just wanted to respond with F**k off.  I didn’t, mostly.  The following 3-4 years were focused on the pain, flashbacks, PTSD and focusing on everything that went wrong during those fateful 76 days. In the past few years I have began to be able to get some balance remember the good more than the bad.

In the end there was a dichotomy of emotions and thoughts. Upon her death there was first some relief.  That relief was the source of guilt I felt for many years.  As a parent, father, and human being our duty is to protect our children from pain, sickness, injury and obviously death.  So as a father I felt I had failed in that duty.  The relief was in knowing she was finally at rest, no longer struggling or suffering.  That was almost immediately followed by the unimaginable grief one feels for a life in its infancy with all its future potential erased in a moment.  I think this is one of the most difficult struggles we face as parents with deceased children is the missed milestones.  It hasn’t escaped our conscious or unconscious the milestones that come and pass each year that she never had an opportunity to experience.

I had said goodbye to Faith almost a week before her death when she had her first cardiac arrest.  My mind and soul knew we had lost her and that the Faith we knew and loved would not be coming back to us.  One late night a week before her death I even wrote was to become the last blog entry of our adventures, our folly, of a wonderful healthy child taking such a tragic turn for reasons still not understood today.  The blog entry was entitled  “A Journey’s End” but its working title was “Never Post” as still can be seen today in its URL  In my heart I knew I would be posting it one day but still had faith and hope that it would not be needed.

Here we are 10 years later, “Life Goes On” as the category of this blog post indicates.  More people have come into our lives and sadly some have left.  Each day that goes by makes it a little bit easier to remember all the fun and quirky times we had with Faith.  I try so hard not to dwell on her death but interestingly there are pearls of wisdom and remembrance that enter my life from time to time. The opening graphic is from the movie Shawshank Redemption the following two were mentioned somewhere and reawakened the drive that makes me want to write and share her life with you. As I begin to recall all the good vs the bad, I look forward to sharing those memories with you.  I’m not even sure who my audience is, if anyone still reads these ramblings, but if some random person should land upon these pages and it gives them some hope or solace or a new perspective that no matter how small a life is it can make a significant difference in the world and how it is important to keep those memories of the person who gave us them alive.

 “Someday soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That’s when I will be truly dead – when I exist in no one’s memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies, too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?”

Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy


Happy 18th Birthday Day Faith!

Your birthday is here again,
but in heaven you will be.
We will celebrate your special day
visiting you and your memorial tree.

You are now another year older;
this will never show on your face.
In heaven you are a child forever
as this is your magical place.

We call out your precious name
and send balloons up to the sky.
We watch them fade into the clouds.
The wind has sent them up high.

We hope you have a party up there
with the balloons we sent to you.
Presents to open from the angels
and a cake with some candles too!

We will sing you Happy Birthday,
but we try not to shed a tear
as this should be a happy day
we will celebrate each year.