When my sister had her first child, I was excited to get to be an aunt. Being an aunt is an awesome experience-you get to cuddle them, rock them, sing to them, play with them, raise mischief, teach them things, and generally spoil them rotten. All of those things I thoroughly enjoyed. I was thrilled when they moved to Pennsylvania when Jared was around nine months old and I got to see him every day or nearly every day. I enjoyed holding him when he took a nap-it was a great time for a nap.
When he started talking, I was Ta. He would look for me when he came to our house. Sometimes, I would hide just to have him find me because the excitement of him finding me always ensured a Jared hug. Jared’s hugs are legendary. When Ethan was born, I got to see him more often since they were living in Pennsylvania. I enjoyed holding Ethan and spoiling him too. I enjoyed reading books to them and being part of their adventures. Swimming in the pool and catching them as they jumped in over and over are memories I treasure.
Being an aunt, was the minor league training for being a mom, I hoped. I found out I was pregnant on my parents’ anniversary-April 7, 2009. Hiding the excitement in my voice as I called to wish them a Happy Anniversary was difficult when all I wanted to do was blurt, “You are going to be grandparents!”
Thankfully, Easter Sunday was not far away. I remember giving my parents the large wedding picture that they had wanted. My dad went to put it up and I stopped him and said, “Just wait a minute. I have a question I need to ask.” I asked if my parents were ready to be grandparents again. The implications of that question and the joy that filled the reactions were great. I celebrated my 30th birthday two weeks later.
As my pregnancy progressed, hope built. We began making decisions about the nursery and its theme. We settled on Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. As that would be useable no matter whether the baby was James Robert or Sarah Elisabeth.
July 30, 2009, I found out that I was having a girl. Oh the hair on her head then. The technician asked me if I got heartburn and I replied, “From water.” No matter what I ate or drank, I had heartburn.
Sarah Elisabeth came into the world screaming. Her head full of dark curly hair and her little body beat red as she screamed. She was a petite 6 pound 9 ½ ounces and 19 ¼ inches long. Her little butt which never would stay in the diaper fit in my hand. Her personality was HUGE!!!! She hated wearing her diaper and could wiggle out of it. Many times, I looked down to see her butt out of the diaper and would simply pull it back up. She HATED getting her picture taken. As evidenced by the grimace each time someone’s camera flashed. While I am sorry that she hated having her picture taken, I am so glad that everyone insisted on capturing her those first few days.
None of us expected the ending to be so soon. So many questions and so little answers exist to this day. While I could wallow in the pain of her death, I would miss out on the joy of living.
Sarah’s Butterflies began with an unfinished Christmas gift for a Christmas that never happened. Its completion meant finding a recipient or many recipients of the gift-a toy box full of hope. The ministry was Sarah’s Toybox for a few years. Then as we began the foundation Sarah’s Butterflies, we decided to rename the ministry to prevent confusion.
While it hurts that I never heard Sarah call me, “Mommy.” I will experience that in Heaven someday. Now, I have many children who are someone’s Sarah that God is entrusting me to bless the way I wanted to bless Sarah-hugs, telling her that she is loved, teaching her and just enjoying her company. Everyone needs those things and everyone is someone’s child.
This year, our goal is 2000 Blessing Bags. We want to send 500 of them to the homeless in New York City to tell them what we tell that they are loved. Please join in our vision and help us to make a difference in the world for Jesus, one Sarah at a time.