Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Bonds of Friendship

They say you don't pick your friends, but rather your friends pick you. I'd like to think that's the case, but there are also the friendships that come about from a shared tragedy such as the loss of a child. We met the Morris' and Pops' back in January at our bereavement support group. Even though there were other wonderful people in our support group, we shared the special bond of losing an infant daughter.

Many times the facilitator would have the group break into smaller groups and we'd always be together. I think this was done because of the common bond we all shared. Not to take away from the loss of the other families, but we all lost our daughters under similar circumstances. Keri and Nathan lost their daughter Lily to leukemia. Becky and Steve lost their daughter, Elle, to Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare skin disease.

After our support group ended we'd periodically email each other or meet-up. All of us have visited each other's grave-sites. In fact one evening while we were visiting Grace the Pops' pulled up to visit her too. It was very touching to share that time with them.

A few months ago Keri mentioned that Fairytale Town had bricks for sale along the yellow-brick road leading into the entrance. The bricks could be inscribed with anything you'd like. We all decided to get a brick in our daughter's memory. Shortly after we had placed our order Keri called them to see if the bricks could be laid next to each other. When they heard our story they agreed to do so. In fact the Morris' were there the day the bricks were laid down and the masons made it clear they knew the story and took great pride in placing all three together.

On Sunday, we all agreed to meet there to see the bricks. We brought some blankets and sat on the grass nearby. Keri brought us the lyrics to Over the Rainbow and little sculptures made out of the extra mortar from when the bricks were laid. She also lit a few candles to show our solidarity of this special time.

The Morris' also have a son, Jonathan, who is about 3 and the Pops' have a daughter, Chloe, who is about a month older then Jonathan. As we watched them play together we talked about a variety of things. About how the kids have been having a hard time adjusting to the loss of their baby sister and their fear of losing a parent. We talked about how we deal with family and friends who avoid talking about our daughters. And we spoke about the little things in life we all deal with. Contrary to what you may think, it's not all doom and gloom when we meet. We simply share stories about our lives in hopes of helping eachother learn through them.

Holly and I are very fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends who aren't afraid to talk about Grace. Sadly, lots of people are afraid of bringing up the topic for fear of hurting the parents. But like I've said before, talking about our lost child doesn't hurt us. It's ignoring them that bothers us. We don't want you to forget either. You might not have to live with the constant pain of our loss, but you can share in our memory of them.

I'm forever grateful we have met Keri, Nathan, Becky and Steve. I feel so fortunate to have met such down-to-earth people who share so much with us. I'm honored to have gotten to know Elle and Lily through their wonderful parents. I only wish we could have met them in person. There is no doubt if given the opportunity, our little girls would have been friends. Instead, they will forever be our little Angel BFFs.

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