Today is my niece Bliss's seventh birthday, and she's spending it in Heaven, just as she has spent every birthday before.
Jeremy's middle sister, Katie delivered Bliss but never got to hear her cry. She held Bliss, but never got to peer into her eyes.
When we were still in the newish phase of dating, Jeremy told me Bliss's story over the phone one night, and I- already in love with him and his family- couldn't contain the tears.
At our wedding, there was a mini-bouquet that would have been well suited for another flowergirl, and a candle in her honor atop our welcoming table.
My mother-in-law has ten grandbabies here, and one ever-present yet just out of reach grandgirl who is already Home.
Our family, together, has experienced so much death in such a short time, but one of the most painful happened before I ever joined the family. To not have been there for the woman I call my sister, to not have seen the precious face of my niece, it wrenches my heart. I miss her without ever having known her. I regret that I don't get the opportunity to be her aunt, here on earth.
For some people, it's easier to let the memories of lost loved ones fade until they are so gossamer thin that to recall them would break the spell.
But for Katie, for Jeremy, for their mother, for our family, we keep Bliss's name on our lips. Katie and her husband tell their children about their sister who surely watches them from above. We honor Bliss by remembering her.
So last month when I learned about Mamie's Poppy Plates, I knew instantly I would buy one for Katie, in honor of her first child. A purchased donation from Mamie's Poppy Plates provides a blank plate to the bereaved families at St. Vincent's Hospital in Little Rock. The hospital staff will stamp the baby's handprints and footprints and record birth stats, which will be painted onto the plate, then finished at Firefly Studio and presented to the parents.
There are many ways to remember the ones we've loved and lost, but one of the best ways is to provide comfort, however small, to others who grieving. Now, another set of parents will be blessed with a tangible memory of their precious child, in honor of Bliss.
To purchase one of Mamie's Poppy Plates for donation, visit their Poppy Seed Blog and find the link on the left-hand side.