Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tears and Smiles

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.

59 comments:

Lauren said...

Today was beautiful. Your strength is inspirational. Lily and Charlie have such a bright future ahead of them, lit by their special star.

Our life is a bowl of Barry's said...

I am so glad Lily and Charlie helped lift your spirits after such an emotional day. And the good thing is, they will do it for you again, over and over, day after day. Praying for peace for the both of you and your families-

J said...

My heart is heavy for you today. God bless little Annaleigh. May she rest in peace with the knowledge that her extraordinary parents and many other people loved her so much.

Skoorb said...

You all continue to be in my prayers... may the coming days bring you peace, as Charlie and Lily will bring you joy...

shawnandlarissa said...

Continuing to send prayers. I am glad that you are finding some closure.

Anonymous said...

May your little angel rest in peace. Your family will continue to be in my prayers.

Kiane said...

You have been in my thoughts all day today. Your strength continues to amaze me. I hope the coming days bring you peace and I'm so happy to hear that Charlie & Lily are doing well.

Kiane (SAIF)

Kim said...

Your strength continues to amaze me. I'm happy to hear that you Charlie and Lily were able to bring you happiness today.

Fran said...

The video, eulogy and poem are so touching. You are really amazing and wonderful people. I stopped to think of you, Charlie, Lily and of course, Annaleigh many times today.

[[[HUGS]]] and love...
Fran (12106mrsmun--SAIF)

Michele from FTHS said...

Again, Joe and Brooke, it was a beautiful service. May Annaleigh watch over all of you and keep you all strong. xoxoxo

Lani said...

As always, I am blown away by your strength. You are both truly an inspiration.

TripMomma said...

Much love and peace to you, your little sweetheart will be watching out for you. <3

~Jess said...

My prayers continue for all of you *hugs*

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful video.... thank you for sharing it with me. Thoughts and continued prayers with all of you!
~Sara (jasonlovessara)

Anonymous said...

Stay strong, my friends.

Cheryl

Jill said...

I have been following your blog for months now, and I can't even tell you how heartbroken I am for your loss. Annaleigh is truly an angel. You are in my thoughts and prayers. (JillRock96 from TheBump)

Our Story said...

Again, your strength and grace amaze me. You are wonderful, wonderful parents.

You will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Kelly
(Smilee)

Momma said...

your strength continues to amaze me
many thoughts and prayers

*hugs*
Sarah/Copzy

The Home Cook said...

The service was absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for letting me be part of it. Brooke and Joe, your strength continues to amaze me. Through the grief you were able to provide an amazing tribute to your beautiful, sweet Annaleigh. I know she felt your love. Lily and Charlie are lucky to have her as their guardian angel.

((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

You are special people. Charlie and Lily are blessed to have your as parents and Annaleigh will always be with you.

SAIF Friend

Tobi said...

You are two of the most amazing and strong people I've ever had the pleasure of "knowing" and I've never even met you. I am heartbroken for you and will forever be impressed by the strength you've shown through this. Charlie and Lily are lucky to have you, as was Annaleigh. You all are constantly in my thoughts.

Tobi
trr8203 from multiple mamas

517Butterfly said...

I am completely in awe of your strength. Everything was so beautiful. Annaleigh knew more love in her 8 weeks here than most people will ever know in a lifetime. Your family continue to be in my thoughts and prayers!

Jamee (517butterfly from SAIF)

Stephanie said...

I have said it before and I will say it again- your strength is so amazing. I cannot fathom the sorrow you are feeling and yet you write these amazing, uplifting, inspiring posts. You two are truly amazing parents and your babies are blessed to have you.

roswellgahokie said...

The Eulogy was PERFECT. I believe that children select their parents and siblings for the life and lessons they will learn...one needn't look twice to see why Annaleigh selected your family. Too few people are able to have such complete devotion and love as experienced and inspired by your daughter. May all of you continue to be surrounded by her light in the days and life to come.
Warm Regards, Rebecca Patel (9 mo. b-g twins and a 3 year old son)

Also, I hope you are involved with your local Moms of Multiples club...if not, email me and I'll put you in touch with them.
rebecca@blackpiano.com

Diana Lopez said...

my prayers continue for Lily and Charlie and for your broken hearts. trust and have faith in god...

Amy L. said...

Your strength is so amazing. These babies are so lucky to have you as parents. Continuing to send love and prayers.

Colleen said...

I am so glad I could be there together to join you in your good-bye to Annaleigh. Every single part of the services was beautiful and so fitting for the short life that Annaleigh led.

I am sure you both here this all the time, but your strength never ceases to amaze me. The strength you both have individually, plus what you get from each other (which is very apparent just by watching the two of you together) is inspiring.

Lucy M said...

The two of you continue to amaze me. I don't know how you did it, Joe, but your eulogy was just perfect, a very fitting tribute to your precious daughter. I am so glad to hear you are starting to feel some peace.

goldenmama said...

You are such strong and amazing parents I hope you realize that every single day. I read your post with tears flowing down my cheeks and yet my heart swelled with happiness to read about Charlie and Lily. Continued love and support.

twinmom305 said...

Your eulogy was wonderful, your strength amazing. My continued thoughts and prayers are with your family.

mrsolsenk12 said...

I thought about you yesterday and I am glad that the funeral brought you closure. Charlie and Lily are lucky to have both of you.

mrsolsenk12 from SAIF

Jennifer said...

What a perfect tribute to your beautiful angel. The two of you are such an inspiration to the people around you. I continue to pray for strength and peace for both of you. The entire congregation of the church that I work for has also been keeping you in their prayers.

Rebecca & Jeremy said...

I'm so very, very sorry for your loss.

Quince Family said...

You have such a strong and beautiful family, both here on earth and up in heaven. Thank you for sharing Annaleigh's tribute with those of us she has touched from afar. I believe there is one other thing that is a goal here--to teach others something about themselves and inspire others. Annaleigh can also check that off of her accomplishment list because I feel she has taught me the gift of appreciation. I see my own 5 month old twins and toddler in a new, more patient and appreciative light. I believe I am a better mother because of what Annaleigh's life story has taught me. Thank you for that sweet Annaleigh! I'm so glad Lily and Charlie are helping you during this tough time. Hugs to you all today,
Melissa (shady06 from Multiple Mamas)

Courtney in CT said...

It sounds like you found the perfect way to celebrate the life of such a perfect little wonder.

I'm so proud of you guys - all of you.

Courtney

Valerie said...

You gave beautiful Annaleigh and very beautiful service. My prayers are with you.
~val

Julie said...

(((HUGE HUGS))) to you both. your strength is amazing. you will all stay in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

You guys are amazing. The funeral services sound just perfect. I am happy to hear that you have found some peace in all of this. I will continue to pray for you.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing, the peace your child can bring to you, in the worst of times. Just knowing that they need you and look to you for comfort makes the world continue on at the right angle. Praying for your continuing peace and healing for the little ones.

Alisha said...

I just found your blog through a friend. I wanted to say I am so sorry for your loss, and I will pray for your continued strength an the health of your two beautiful babies.

Mom Genes said...

God Bless your sweet family.

~Ashley~ said...

I just found your blog through a friend & as I sat here reading your blog, tears fell down my cheeks. Your strength & love is amazing, it shines through your beautiful babies. I'm so sorry for your loss

Flutterby918 said...

I am amazed by your strength and positivity. I am glad that the memorial turned out in such a way for you two. Little Annaleigh was blessed to have parents like you.

Your eulogy and the poem brought tears to my eyes. I don't know if I have ever read anything so touching.

God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Your strenght is simply amazing to me. I had tears running down my face reading your blog but at the end the tears turn to happy tears just knowing the love Annaleigh took with her. You are truly amazing parents. You are all constantly in my thoughts and I will continue to pray for Charlie & Lily to get stronger. They are lucky babies and I'm sure they know that already!!! God bless your sweet family always.

Anonymous said...

I was driving home from the store today, and this song came on the radio. I had to pull over because I started to cry thinking about your family. God is good. I know He is faithful and sovereign. I know He will draw you near to Him.

Anyways, the song is called "Always" by Building 429. It's a Christian group.

Here's some of the lyrics. I hope it lifts you up, as it did for me.

I was standing in the pour raining/ One dark November night/
Fighting off the bitter cold/ When she caught my eye/ Her face was torn and her eyes were filled/ And then to my surprise/ She pulled out a photograph/ And my heart just stopped inside/ She said He would have been three today/ I miss his smile, I miss his face
What was I supposed to say

But I believe always always/ Our Savior never fails/ Even when all hope is gone/ God knows our pain and His promise remains/ He will be with you always/
...

Friend I don't know where you are/
And I don't know where you've been/
Maybe you're fighting for your life/ Or just about to throw the towel in/ But if you're crying out for mercy/ If there's no hope left at all/ If you've given everything you've got/ And you're still about to fall/ Well hold on, hold on, hold on/

Cuz I believe always always/ Our Savior never fails/ Even when all faith is gone/ God knows our pain and His promise remains/ Always, Always/ He will be with you always/ He will be with you always/ He will be with you

Gob bless you all! You're in my constant thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you are people of faith, but I'm sure you must be to endure everything that you have so far.

Nothing anyone can say will make this situation right, but here's a few verses that might help you.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5

"I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes" Psalm 119:125

I offer these because it is so senseless that such a young, precious baby would be taken so early. But there are some things that we can never understand.

I will pray for your family.

Anonymous said...

I follow several baby blogs with great interest. This is the first comment I have ever made. I adore your story, your love for Annaleigh (gorgeous name) and Lily and Charlie. I was moved to tears with your video tribute and you are in my thoughts and prayers. Lily and Charlie are very lucky to have you. I wish you all well.
SophieX

Anonymous said...

Again, your strength amazes me. Your babies are so lucky to have such amazing parents. I knew how special Annaleigh was, but after watching that very touching video, it is even more apparent. She knew how loved she was, and still is. She is forever with the four of you, and your lives will be that much better because of it.

Anonymous said...

Another baby blog I follow for a friend mentioned yours today so I came by to read about your beautiful Annaleigh. I am so sorry for your loss but I know you will continue be wonderful parents to Charlie and Lily and that they will continue to get stronger every day. God bless both of you and your family. Your story has effected me and I will go home tonight and hug my 20-month-old a little harder.

A friend from SoCal

Anonymous said...

It truly was a beautiful ceremony today. Joe you really do a good job with public speaking. =) The Poem was beautiful as well.
Daniela

bella1021 said...

hugs....

Jennifer said...

You're in my thoughts every day. Take care.

~*~ Rita Danielle ~*~ said...

What a lovely eulogy, poem, and video tribute. I hope both of you and Charlie and Lily all continue to find comfort in each other and heal a little every day. Lots of love to your family. You are still in our thoughts.
Rita & Keith Simmons
(SAIF)

The Wells Family said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful poem and video tribute....

krissy said...

Joe and Brooke,
"We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace" - hearing this today, I thought of your sweet Annaleigh. Your writing has brought Annaleigh into our lives and touched us all in many ways.

I will be keeping your family in my thoughts.

Krissy Guttadora

cejer said...

Still following your story as I pray for your family .. God bless!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

My husband and I lost our first son just 32 minutes into his life. So, I am familiar with your experience of having your Annaleigh return to heaven much too soon. Know that God will comfort you and guide you as your heal from the loss of your child and grow as parents with your Charlie and Lily!

You are blessed to have your babies! I pray that you always feel the love that Annaleigh has for you!

God Bless,
Mother of 1 two year old boy angel and 1 precious 10 month old girl!

Anonymous said...

You will all be in my thoughts and prayers. Your story has touched me and so many in such a special way and your two remaining children are blessed to have you as their parents to love and guide them through life. God bless you all.

Anonymous said...

WOW! I "found" this blog a little over a week ago when prayers were requested for Annaleigh. Your story has touched my life. I have cried with you all and laughed with you all. You are so right as to say that Annaleigh was SO SO loved. I think of her everyday - which is incredible since I have never met her. But she has truly changed my life.
I look forward to hearing all the triumphs that Charlie and Lily make. You are truly amazing parents and an inspiration to all.
- Karen