Friday, July 20, 2007

There Go I, But For The Grace Of God

As any parent will tell you, there is no greater fear than the paralyzing terror that comes when one imagines a scenario in which one’s child dies.

Yesterday, Rachd -- a woman who’s joined us here in friendship almost from this blog’s inception -- experienced the horrific reality of that nightmare when her 5-year-old daughter, Hannah, died in a swimming accident.

Rachd has always been wholly about her children Hannah and Lily. We’ve enjoyed the ever-changing photos of her little girls in her avatar. We’ve offered support when they were teething or cranky. And we looked forward to the times Rach was able to put them to bed and hop online to laugh with us about romance novels and our lives.

For me, Rachd has been a kind of example of a woman who cares so deeply for her children that she simply can’t keep the blessing to herself. Yet she is a complete woman, who takes care of family and the students she teaches, and still makes time to come here, making us feel better with her presence that we felt before she arrived.

On this day, in this place where we become as close as sisters, where we’ve questioned if there was “something wrong with us” because we feel like “real life” friends – yet know it’s our reality -- let’s offer to Rachael the support she and her family deserve. And let’s do it in the way we’re so good at – the way that shows Rachael’s daughter, Hanna, we respect her life and her passing.
***
Rachd and her husband, Brien, made the decision to give life from their daughter’s death by donating Hannah’s organs. Please consider signing an organ donor card, and talking to your family about your decision.

56 comments:

MaryKate said...

Michelle, what a thoughtful and lovely post. I've been in tears most of the day, as I'm sure, have many. I'm utterly devastated for Rach and Brien and Lily. But I know she's been taking comfort in the love of those around her, and in the outpouring of support she's gotten.

The coming days will be so hard for her. I'm glad that the Bellas will be there to help hold her up.

Vivi Anna said...

Michelle, lovely post.

I too have been in and out of tears all day, feeling restless and impotent that I can't physically hug Rachael and her family in this time of grief.

But I do know she would love this post and that because of her gracious spirit she knows that the Bellas wholly love and support her.

Monica Burns said...

Michelle,

Rach truly is one of our sisters, and her, Brien's and Lilly's celebration of Hannah's life by letting her live through us is a beautiful expression of their love for a precious little gift that they had for such a short time.

Like MK, I've been crying almost constantly since I got the news. I'm glad we can all band together and offer her our love, support and comfort in the days ahead. It will be tough for her and Brien, but we'll be there for them. That's what Bellas do.

Monica

Julie in Ohio said...

Michelle-- I have to agree with Vivi and MK. This is a lovely post.
I didn't realize until late this afternoon that they donated Hannah's organs. What a selfless and beautiful tribute to her life. She will live on not only in spirit but in body also that way.

Monica Burns said...

celebration of Hannah's life by letting her live through us is a beautiful expression of their love for a precious little gift that they had for such a short time.

Ugh, that's what crying does for you. It should read

...letting her live on through others...

*sigh* Monica

Playground Monitor said...

Your post is beautiful, Michelle. It's straight from the heart and I'm sure as a mother it was a difficult one for you to write. I've been absolutely heartsick since I heard the news. I've wept til I can't anymore. I passed along the family's name to put on her church's prayer rolls and have asked other friends to pray for the family and keep them in their thoughts. Right now that's what the Bella Brigade can do -- support our sister in her time of need.

Marilyn

MaryKate said...

Marilyn - Like you, I activated our prayer chain here in DC. I think in looking at her blog, she's literally got people all over the country praying for her family tonight.

That offers me some comfort. I hope perhaps it offers a little to them too.

rachd said...

Michelle, it's beautiful, thank you bunches. You know, I love all of you Bellas so very much and am so grateful for ALL your support and prayers. Thank you thank you all from the BOTTOM of my heart.

rachd said...

Cross-posted there, MK. Yes, I've taken so much comfort in the prayers I know are going up all over the US, as well as the world. Hannah touched so many lives and was such a sparkler and I've been finding comfort in all the kind words and prayers. I've been saving every message on my laptop. Thank you all!

azteclady said...

Rachel, my prayers are with you and your family. Your generosity in the midst of such grief is an example to us all.

Jess said...

Thanks to you for supporting my sister. I know she appreciates it more than you know.

Portia Da Costa said...

Rach

I don't know what to say... except to say please accept my profoundest sympathies for the loss of your sweet little girl. It's a long time since I experienced a family death [my dear old mum] but the pain of that is still keen. I can't begin to imagine how you must be feeling, to have lost your sweet daughter.

I am thinking of you, and praying for the healing of your family, although I know that in some ways that will be impossible... the only tiny comfort must be that Hannah has given the gift of life and health to other children through the donation process.

Sending love to you across the ocean, Rach...

Wendy

Manda said...

Oh my god, Rach. I am so utterly sorry. I don't know what to say. I had no idea this was happening and just dropped in to catch up with the bellas. I can't even imagine what you're going through. But please know that someone who's never even met you in person is sending you all her love and support from far away. I know in a lot of ways the internet world seems unreal, but the affection it generates is not. I could tell even in your posts how much your little ones mean to you and it breaks my heart to hear this news.

You and your family are in my prayers. I am so, so sorry.

manda

Eve Silver / Eve Kenin said...

Rachael, please accept my deepest sympathy and prayers. My heart is breaking for you and yours.

Eve

PJ said...

Rach, I pop in here often but haven't posted that much so we really don't know each other but I've seen through your posts what a lovely woman you are and how very important your family is to you. I was so saddened to read Michelle's beautiful post this morning. Please know that I will be holding your family and all who loved Hannah in my heart and in my prayers. I'm putting your family on the prayer list at my church here in South Carolina as well.

How selfless and generous of you and Brien to donate Hannah's organs. In the midst of your heartbreak you have reached out and given another parent the most precious gift of all. Though Hannah's time on Earth was brief, it is clear that she touched many people. She will always be with you, in your hearts, in your sweet memories and in the children who will continue to live because of her.

Warm hugs,

PJ

Anonymous said...

I've been lurking here for quite a while and never posted, but today I must ask that you allow me to add my tears and prayers of support for Rachd and her family.

Ann in IL

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

The fairly unadulterated joy and nearly astounding connectivity we get from hanging together is, I think, why this news of Hannah's death is so difficult to process.

Our girlfriend's child is dead under tragic circumstances, and we grieve in the same way we would if we were within "hugging distance," as Vivi was saying.

Rach, I'm very pleased that you have so many friends world-wide, really, to bear with you your grief, even in what feels to many of us fairly inadequate ways.

Jess, it's always been such a treat when you've been able to stop by in the past, and I'm glad we can offer you some support, too. We know how much you care for Rach -- despite the ribbing you usually give her -- and how much Hanna meant and still means to you.

Kelly F. said...

Please accept my deepest sympathy. As the mom of a 3 year old I am sitting here crying just sick over this. And I am just a person who posts on occasion. Someone who never got to know you or your little girl. But nonetheless I sit here crying for you and your family. I am so sorry, no parent should ever have to go through this. {{{{HUG}}}}

ev said...

The outpouring of prayer, love and friendship on Rach's blog has been from around the world. It is amazing to read the posts.

When I came home from work in the afternoon and read my email and Rach's blog, I broke down in tears, as I am sure many of us did.

Organ Donation has been a big thing in our family for ever. We have all signed our licenese and know each others wishes. Our SIL is a kidney transplant survivor. Please take a moment to sign yours and let your family know of your wishes. God knows that there is much need here for them when we are gone.

Joyce said...

My deepest sympathies go out to Rachd and her family. I'll keep you and your family in my thought and prayers.

Diana Castilleja said...

Lovely post, and deepest condolences go to her and her family.

tracy macnish said...

Rachael, my deepest sympathy to you and your family. My heart aches for you and your tremendous loss.

Keira Soleore said...

Rachael, I'm so-so sorry for this horrific loss. My deep condolences to you, Brian, and Lily.

Janga said...

I am another lurker who felt compelled to extend my deepest sympathy, Rachael, to you and all of your family. You will all be in my prayers.

flip said...

I am crying as I type. My deepest feelings and thoughts are with Rachel and her family on the loss of Hannah. Life is so fragile and beautiful. Hannah was a gift to the world.

Kimberly Kaye Terry said...

When Vivi told me, I was a wreck for a full day. I know this is not my child, but as a woman who has three babies in heaven, I felt a portion of Rachael's pain. I say a portion, because no one has the same grief, even when we are in the sisterhood of women who've buried children, as another. I have Rach and her family in my prayers.

Much love,
Kimberly

Isabel said...

My heart goes out to you, and your family, Rachel. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

Carolyn said...

I am so terribly sorry to hear this news. Words fail me.

Kate Pearce said...

Rach-I am so sorry to hear this-sending hugs and prayers and love.

Stacy~ said...

Rach, I am so, so sorry about Hannah. When I first heard the news, I couldn't process it, it hurt so much, because through you, I felt like I'd known Hannah. Your strength and spirit has been incredible, and so many have been touched by this.

I feel blessed to know you and the Bellas, and I hope you draw strength from our friendship because it is a very special place here. My prayers are with you and your family.

jessica said...

I am so sorry to read this. Sending lots of light to you and your family, Rachel.

Jessica Inclan

rachd said...

I'm trying to hold on to all the cyber love and prayers. I'm being very very greedy as I have no idea how I could get through this without you all. My husband is jealous I have this as an additional source of support and extra shoulders to lean on. You are all an amazing bunch of Bellas and I thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

Julie in Ohio said...

Rach-- I am all about the greediness. Indulge to the fullest, Sweetie. That's why we're here. For you. Always. :o)

However, if you want to, you could give B a monster hug from us. He needs it, too. Both of you are in our thoughts, nonstop.

And give Lily an extra cookie. That little munchkin could use a bit more energy. ;p

ev said...

Rach- tell Brien he is welcome here anytime. I don't think any of us would mind- we have enough love to go around!

ev

amy*skf said...

Dear sweet Rach--I just need to say again how we are pouring out love to you and Brien and Lily--and we will never forget Hanna (monkey)I am glad you are celebrating her life--I have a pair of fairy wings in my closet, and now every time I see them I will think of her, your fancy Hanna.

Love, Amy

Cinthia Hamer said...

My goodness, I was gone all weekend and just read this.

I'm so very, very sorry to hear of Hannah's passing.

I just don't have the words to adequately express the feelings and thoughts bouncing around in my brain. I have two daughters myself. Now grown, I remember many times when they were kids when I fretted for their safety. Heck, I STILL fret!

Rach, I wish I could fold you in my arms and give you a big hug. But all I can do is send warm, loving thoughts your way and say a prayer that you and your family find comfort in knowing that Hanna lives on, not only in the hearts of those who knew and loved her, but also in the hearts of those whose lives she's helped to save.

Stacy~ said...

Rach, I hope Brien knows he's included in our of our thoughts and prayers. Please let him know that we consider him part of the Bella family, too, and that we're here for all of you.

{{{hugs}}}

rachd said...

Thank you, Stacy and Ev, I'll be sure to invite him on for the guy's point of view, lol. :o)

Ladies, tomorrow is the day and I'm a nervous wreck. If you think about it, please try and wear something diva-esque tomorrow for my own little Diva. I purchased my tiara and boa and sparkling jewelry this evening and am ready to celebrate. Prayers please, Bellas. Prayers please.

Stacy~ said...

I will be thinking of you and Brien and Lily all day today. And guess what? I have a tiara at work (I am after all the home equity queen LOL) so I am ready.

Rach, I am so proud of you. You are an incredible mother and you do right by your little Diva. She'll be shining especially bright in heaven today. Lots of love to each of you.

azteclady said...

Our prayers and thoughts are with you all, Rachd.

amy*skf said...

My tiara's on Rach.

MaryKate said...

I'm all decked out in pink today. I have my sparkliest earings on. And this incredibly fancy pink scarf that my niece gave me when she was 5 or 6.

Today's all about Hannah.

Kelly F. said...

God bless you and your family Rachael. I am thinking of you and praying for God to give you the strength and comfort you need today.

Going to dig out some diva clothes now and get dressed for Hannah.

Portia Da Costa said...

Wishing you strength and comfort on this most difficult of days.

In my heart I'm wearing lace and maribou and rhinestones...

Love

Wendy

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas. I've been hanging back, letting everyone express her feelings and kind -- so kind -- condolences for Rachael and her family.

Today, Rachael's family will celebrate Hannah's life, and we're all praying and wearing our diva-y-est finery in honor of Little Miss.

Some of us don't have to add too much to our daily wardrobes. But then again, maybe you don't sit at the kitchen table in high-heeled maribou slippers and a sequined sheath dress when you read your romance novels in the morning.

I recommend it highly, because -- as Hannah knew -- getting in touch with one's Inner Diva is one dramatic sigh away from forever celebrating the joyful child within.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Good morning, Bellas--

Can't wear high heels or feathers, but I'm wearing a Hawaiian print scrub top, a puka shell necklace, parrot earrings and have wrapped my stethoscope in bright colored silk today in honor of Hannah and if anyone asks, I'll tell them it's for a little angel who touched many lives then flitted away far too soon.

LeeAnn said...

Oh Rach I’m so, so sorry for your loss. I just read the post and don’t even know what to say. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. The only thing that can normally help ease a pain that must hurt so much is time. I can’t even imagine what you are going through right now. Wow it’s taking everything that I have not to cry right now at work. Again I’m so sorry for what you are going through.

Well at least I have on total Diva shoes today with rhinestones and everything.

ev said...

I got my mani and pedi this morning and instead of my usual plain toes, they and my pink/white fingers are bright, shiny pink, topped with- get this- fairy dust!! I sparkle and glitter.

At 3 today, I will be with you in my heart, if not in person. It is raining here so I will don my wildest hawaiian print shirt (probably the one from dad's funeral), my boa (they do go together, right?) and go play in the rain. Or mud. Whichever there is.

Maybe I will see a frog too.

{{{{{Warm hugs and kisses}}}}}
ev

rachd said...

Ya'll are the BESTEST ever!! I'm off to don my diva gear and go celebrate and rejoice. You are the best friends a Bella could ever have! :o)

azteclady said...

Yesterday evening, as they were getting back from their last day at WDW, my nieces brought me a tiny toad--about half an inch long--to show me. And I smiled, thinking of your precious angel, and shared with them your blog. We are all thinking of all of you today, and remembering Fancy Hannah with you.

rachd said...

It was beautiful, Bellas, just beautiful. I'm exhausted, but should post something on my blog by the end of tonight.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please post a link the the above blog.

Thanks,
Ann in IL

Julie in Ohio said...

www.hannahandlily.blogspot.com

I don't know how to post a link but that's the address.




Rach-- {{HUGS GALORE}}

Stacy~ said...

Rach I hope you don't mind but I posted a little something about Hannah today because of course she was on my mind, and she made me wish I could wear my tiara everyday. Thank you, and Brien, for sharing her with us. It's really meant a lot, especially today.

Julia Quinn said...

Rach--

I have no words. I don't think there --are-- words for something like this. I visited your blog, and I read your stories about Hannah and I looked at her face and her smile and her joy and I just ache for you.

I cannot tell you how much I admire your grace and your determination to celebrate your daughter's life. Please know that I am thinking of you and your little monkey.

Julia Quinn

Nina said...

Rach & Brien -

My heart aches for you. Please know that there are so many out there who wish we could ease your grief, knowing at the same time that we strive for the impossible.