We buried our beautiful daughter today.
We buried her with:
-her monkey (we called her "the monkey" and it had sentimental value to us)
-a copy of Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton
-photos of each of us holding her
-photos of Lily and Charlie
-100+ pages of printed out comments from this blog
-her "Princess Annaleigh" blanket
Her tiny pink casket was stuffed full of things that would make her happy. We wanted to make sure that she had everything she would need to know she was loved.
The services were exactly what we hoped for. We were touched by the turnout, especially by the fact that so many nurses from the NICU came. What was so amazing was that some of the nurses never even took care of Annaleigh but rather Charlie or Lily; they still felt compelled to be there for us.
Our memorial lasted about 45 minutes. First, my sweet cousin Kim read a poem that she wrote, which you can read here. Then I gave a eulogy, which I somewhat read and somewhat improvised. Then we watched a brief video tribute we made, which you can watch here. In all, it was a fitting ceremony.
Brooke and I went up to St. Peters immediately after leaving the cemetery so we could spend the rest of the day and evening with Lily and Charlie. In my thirty years on this planet, I'm 100% sure that this was the smartest thing I've ever done.
Both babies were perfect. They were cuddly and active and happy. Lily put on another fine performance of "The Lily Show" while she was getting her bath and being weighed, and Charlie was wide awake and active, more so than I think I've ever seen him. It was the only possible remedy for our sadness.
We also had many NICU visitors today as well. Brooke's mom, Nana, Aunt Jill, Uncle John, Uncle John's much better half Rebecca, my mom and my dad all came to see Charlie and Lily. It was important for them to come, I think, because we wanted everyone to see that Annaleigh's funeral was not the end of the babies. There are still two beautiful, sweet babies that will need them and love them. The funeral was hard on everyone but these visits helped us all be happy.
Brooke and I both feel very at peace tonight. Our hearts ache as I'm sure they will for a long time. But the utter sickness we've been consumed by has passed. Today gave us both closure and perspective. We know that Annaleigh will always be there with us and our memories of our time with her will give us both joy and sadness. But we also know that Charlie and Lily need us to be their mommy and daddy; they will need us to be loving and caring and dependable and strong, and we know that we have to push aside our grief to be all of these things for them. We will grieve, in our own time and our own way, but we will also celebrate every single second that we have with them.
Thank you all for being here with us through this roller coaster journey.