As a woman in my twenties, it seems as if everyone around me is having babies and enjoying the blessings of creating a family...with little to no effort. That is the phase of life I am in. The baby making phase. The pregnancy announcement phase. The birth announcement phase. And I have been left behind, with empty arms, an empty womb, and a silent nursery. My only memories of labor & delivery are intense, heavy, overwhelming; but still full of joy. Yet somehow, I am the only mother who is not allowed to speak of those moments. It makes people uncomfortable. I gave birth to a child, too. And she was perfect. But...she died. And because she died, the common misconception is that my labor story is not beautiful. Rather, disturbing. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
On instagram and facebook, I started scrolling past pictures of the labor and delivery room every day. Social media began to slowly kill me inside. The brand new baby, the smiling faces, the love that’s so evident in these families. I had that love, too. I had those moments, too. But my moments have an incredible element of sadness. And for some reason, I am not allowed to share those photos. When I would share, someone would say something very hurtful behind my back. For me, this became the stage of my life where I understood who was there for me, and who wasn’t. The stage that I realized who my people were, and who my people weren’t. So many old friends were quickly weeded out of my life, while I held tight to those people who acknowledged my pain and loved me despite the broken person I had become.
I saw miracles every day, from a distance. From a screen. But why did these miracles frustrate me? They made me envious. Because, God, where was my miracle? I hated feeling anything but joy for these women who deserve every ounce of happiness. These women that I grew up with, went to school with, spent hours riding on back roads in the middle of the night with. These women I have laughed with, cried with, and danced with. I loved these women. Why didn’t I feel more joy in my heart for what they were experiencing? I wanted to be happy for them. But instead, every time I saw another birth announcement, I sobbed. All day & all night, because...where was my happy ending? How was this fair? Why was Chloe taken so suddenly? And why did I lose what was supposed to be my “rainbow” baby so early in pregnancy? Why does all of this seem to be completely thrown in my face as soon as I feel like I am healing? What am I supposed to be learning from this?
I asked myself this question every day. Every time I saw a new baby enter this world. Every time I watched a woman abuse her gift of pregnancy. Every time I felt that twinge of jealousy because my baby was gone. “What am I supposed to be learning here?”
Deep down, I knew the answer. I was supposed to stop comparing myself to others. I was supposed to be thankful for what I did have. I was supposed to stop scrolling through social media—because it most definitely made me feel like a failure as a woman. I was supposed to stop hating my body for what had happened. I was supposed to let go of the bitterness that I felt inside. I was supposed to accept my reality and move forward with grace. But for some reason, I couldn’t.
I had a long conversation with my brother, who confirmed that this was exactly what needed to happen. I needed to stop focusing outward and start looking inward. Who am I, really? Why am I here, really? He said, “Your purpose on this earth is not the same as theirs. Don’t let these outside forces consume you. Remember who you are and what you are doing here.” The only problem was, I didn’t know who I was. Or what in the world I was doing here.
A few days later, I went in to work with only one goal in mind; to be kind to every person I came across. Not only kind, but intentional. I wanted to really listen to them, learn about them, and love them. I found that as I did this throughout my day, I felt happier. I felt more whole—almost more connected to the universe. Throughout this process, I met many inspiring people. They reminded me of what I was supposed to be thankful for.
—The paraplegic woman crying out in pain as she was moved from one chair to another. How afraid she must have been; relying on two strangers to lift her and gently set her down. How frustrated she must have felt; she could no longer use her legs. I realized how selfish I was. I had spent so much time and energy hating my body, when I should have been thanking it for every step.
—The man who walked on the aircraft with a huge smile, a kind greeting, and a bright attitude. He did not have hands, but this didn’t phase him in the slightest. It didn’t change his outlook on life or his ability to light up the airplane. I looked at my hands, touched every finger, and I understood how careless I was with these two perfectly capable hands.
—The lady sitting next to me in the gatehouse, afraid of what her future held. After 15 years of marriage, after dedicating her whole life to her spouse and children; her kids were now grown and her husband was leaving her. She was devastated, heartbroken, and overwhelmed. But she was searching for hope. She wanted to learn more about my life. She wanted to figure out if she could change course and become a flight attendant. She wanted a social job, something to take her mind off of what she was going through. Without saying the words, she reminded me to be thankful for my husband. She reminded me to be thankful for my career.
After meeting these people, I was flooded with guilt for taking every abundant blessing I had for granted. I was also overwhelmed with gratitude for all I had received in this life. After arriving to the hotel for the evening, I immediately got on my knees & thanked Him for everything I had so ignorantly taken for granted.
My moving hands.
My walking legs.
My sturdy feet.
My seeing eyes.
My hearing ears..
My husband, our family, our friends, our dog.
The love that surrounds us.
The list goes on and on…
Then I felt prompted to ask for forgiveness.
Forgive me for being angry.
For the harsh words I have spoken towards you.
For comparing myself to others.
For the envy and bitterness I have felt…
Forgive me for forgetting how blessed I really am.
As I asked for forgiveness, I felt an amazing sensation that I most definitely was forgiven for those things. God’s love is so perfect. Gratitude for His atonement filled my soul.
The last thing I wanted to pray for was a little direction in my life. What was my purpose? Why was I here?
I kneeled in silence for a few minutes before I felt the words;
“If you’re ready, then I’m ready.”
At first, I ignored these words...I didn’t understand. This didn’t answer the question I had just asked.
But then again, I felt them. This time, stronger…
“If you’re ready, then I’m ready.”
My heart swelled as these words repeated over and over again in my soul.
I sobbed and shook my head, “I don’t know if I’m ready. What is coming?”
“If you’re ready, then I’m ready.”
I got the impression that what was coming was going to be difficult for me.
Difficult, but rewarding.
With tears in my eyes, I spoke--
‘I’m sorry but I don’t think I am ready. I am afraid.”
Suddenly, I felt different words.
“Do you trust me?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Do you trust me?”
More tears fell as I felt these words, because this was the hardest question I had ever been asked. I didn’t know whether or not I trusted Him. I wanted to, but a part of me couldn’t. The moment that Chloe was taken from us is forever engraved in my mind. The moment I begged God to save her, and He didn’t. So, Did I trust Him? Then, the moment we were told our second babe had no heartbeat after all of the prayers and all of the pleading for a rainbow baby. So, did I trust Him?
Over and over again, the words replaying on my soul…
“Do you trust me?” And still, I did not know.
But finally, a moment of tranquility. A moment of stillness, peace and understanding placed on my heart. A feeling that words can’t quite describe. The knowledge that if I placed my trust in Him, He could always find a way to heal me no matter what happened. And once more, He asked;
“Do you trust me?”
I paused, and felt His peaceful presence. I said out loud,
“Yes. I trust you.”
His response was,
“If you’re ready, then I’m ready.”
You’re standing there in front of the man you just promised to share your life with. He puts the diamond ring on your finger, and suddenly your life flashes before your eyes. You become excited for the future. The endless sleepovers with your best friend, the jobs you will have, the home you will buy, the children you will raise together. You love this man with everything in you, and you can’t wait to see little people running around with his DNA. You imagine nothing bad could ever happen. You are both good people; hard workers, loving companions, life planners, and you both love the Lord. This life you’re predicting is going to be perfect with this man by your side; this man as your partner.
“for better, for worse.”
“In sickness, in health”
“For rich, or for poor”
And in my case…
“For time, and all eternity.”
We vow to cherish our partners. To support them. To remain faithful; both emotionally and physically. To lift each other up in times of need. To be that one person who is constantly there. The one person we share our entire lives with.
Derrick and I have been married for almost 6 years now, and I can honestly say that because we have supported each other endlessly, our hard times were a little easier. I can’t imagine having to go through this life without him.
I look back on our life together, scroll through old pictures, and relive moments that stand out. Whether that memory I documented was something major or something small—I still laugh, cry, or smile as I scroll. I am amazed at our journey so far. I am in awe of all we have overcome together.
Something that really stands out to me as I look at these old photos, is that marriage is ever- changing. There will be times of great joy and happiness. Years of coasting, years of ease. There will be moments of hardship; unexpected situations that are difficult to endure. And there will be times of overwhelming sorrow. But through the ups and downs, through the pain and darkness; there is a light. We are reminded during hard times how deep, strong, and powerful marriage is. What are we promising? For better, for worse. In sickness, in health. For rich, for poor. Forever, by your side.
I have to say, the first few years of our marriage were easy. We spent all of our time together joking around, laughing, dating, going on vacations, supporting each other in our careers, planning for the future, and always looking ahead to even better days. The days were good, amazing really. We were busy with work, but we both had the same goals in mind and continued to enjoy each other’s company when we were able to be together. I started to think to myself, “it couldn’t get better than this.”
But it did get better; ironically, as it got worse. Maybe “better” isn’t the word. Stronger; we became stronger. In year 5 of our marriage, we struggled together. We were knocked down, but inched our way back up about a thousand different times. The days I spent crying, were the days my husband had strength. He lifted me up with his spirit and his love. Interestingly, the days he couldn’t find his strength, I had enough for the both of us. I didn’t know where the strength and comfort came from, but it was necessary for me to have it on the days he didn’t. And he never failed to be the strong one on the days I was broken. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but when one of us was struggling-the other was given peace, comfort, and strength. We could help each other. We were a team.
I know every married couple has their own individual struggles—every partnership has unique qualities. Our hardship, is that we struggle to have children. No, we don’t have a hard time conceiving. It is me. I have difficulty carrying our children to full term. Because of that, we have dealt with many hospital stays and we have experienced tragic loss.
We lost our beautiful daughter last year, after spending 10 weeks in the hospital. Months later, I became pregnant again with what we thought was our rainbow. We had plans in place for extra care during that pregnancy. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, our second child passed away in my womb before we even got a chance to know the gender, or give a name.
Derrick was with me both times that we heard those dreaded words;
“Nothing more we can do”
“We don’t know why this happened”
And Derrick held me just as tight the second time we heard those words; as he did the first time.
Derrick was my support & my constant during that 10 week hospital stay.
He was my light & my comfort, as I mourned the loss of our sweet Chloe.
He was my strength during those weeks I was anxious in the second pregnancy. Being pregnant after a full term loss isn’t easy, emotionally. I constantly struggled with anxiety and fear that something would go wrong.
And despite our pleading to the Lord every morning and every night for the blessing of keeping this child here with us, something did go wrong. Terribly wrong.
Honestly, I have been crippled with anger and guilt ever since we were told we lost this baby, too. And suddenly I can’t see children in my future; when that’s all I really ever wanted before. The traumatic loss of Chloe, followed by an early miscarriage, makes me feel completely abandoned. God, where are you?
But then, I look at my husband. I look at pictures of him at the hospital, on my bedside. I see the look of adoration in his eyes, even when I’m at my very worst. Despite the fact that I feel like a failure as a woman, he doesn’t see me that way. He never will. He loves me unconditionally. I can see it, I can feel it, I hear it every day, and I’ve been shown how much he loves me a thousand different times.
And suddenly I feel a rush of gratitude and I understand. God. You’re here. You didn’t abandon me or leave me alone. You placed this man in my life carefully. You knew just what you were doing. Thank you, thank you; for blessing me with my husband.
And even though I feel like I’m in a dark place right now, I can’t deny your love. Because I see your love in my husband’s actions. And I know for a fact that I am blessed.
For Rich, for Poor
This Father’s Day, I think of my dad & all he has done for me my whole life.
There are so many things I want to thank him for.
I have always been thankful for him, but Chloe’s short life has inspired me to make sure everyone I love knows how much I love and appreciate them.
He provided for us
My dad provided for a family of 7. He worked so many hours, went across the world every week, brought back lots of goodies from other countries; but most importantly, never let us go without anything. We had everything we could ever need growing up. A safe place to call home, food to eat, cars to drive. And if we ever wanted to do anything; he found a way to make it happen.
He allowed us to dream
I remember coming to him with my hopes & desires, and he would always encourage me. It didn’t matter how far fetched or crazy it seemed, he told me I could do it. And he gave me ideas on how to start.
Growing up, all I wanted to do was sing. He brought me to all of my auditions. American idol; I failed. The voice; I failed. Arkansas Talent Search, I made it through every round, and he took me to every single competition! But in the last round, I still didn’t win. He never told me to quit. (Even though I never won anything.) instead, he told me to try again. I never did try again, but it wasn’t because of lack of support. He encouraged me to dream. Always.
He helped me in my career
He taught us at a young age how to work hard. I always thought his job was super cool; I remember in elementary school I had him come speak to my classmates about life as a flight attendant. He, of course, brought them Japanese candy. They loved it. Years later I still had classmates ask me when my dad would come back from Japan and bring the candy.
After high school, and during my 2 years of college, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was just going through the motions. Going to college because that’s what you’re supposed to do after you graduate high school. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try to follow in his footsteps. But I never thought of being a flight attendant until he said, “hey, Delta is hiring flight attendants. You should try it out.” And so, I did. A few months later, he was pinning my wings on me at flight attendant graduation.
The past 4.5 years of being his colleague have been really great! I love that he has shown me the ropes, he’s helped me with my schedule, and he has shown me around the world.
He always shows up, steps up, and helps us when times are rough
He came to the hospital often to see me; always stopping by before he flew into work or right after a long day of flying. He’s shown so much support during this hard time.
I still remember that when Derrick and I were planning the memorial, we didn’t know where to start. People were asking us all kinds of questions that we didn’t want to answer; questions that we didn’t know how to answer. I was overwhelmed. I know Derrick was too. But Dad helped us answer those questions. And he volunteered to speak at the memorial without hesitation. Your talk was incredible, and honored Chloe in a way that was absolutely beautiful. His faith & strength was inspiring on that seemingly impossible day.
Derrick and I love you, Dad. Our sweet Chloe loves her Grandpa. Thank you for your continuous and unconditional love.
Your dad has loved you from the start. The day I told him I was carrying you, he couldn’t stop smiling. He was full of joy, full of love, full of gratitude. He loved you so much then, he loves you so much still.
Chloe, I want to tell you a few things about your dad...although I have a feeling you already know what an amazing man he is. I believe you hand picked him from heaven to be your daddy.
And I completely understand why.
He is Loving and Kind
Your dad has the biggest heart. He would do anything for us, Chloe. I know if you were here, you would be so happy. He would have given his little girl the whole world. He would make you laugh, he would hold you when you cry, he would be there for you during your best times and your worst times; he would be your light in the darkness. He would lift your burdens. He would bring you so much peace. I know these things,
because that’s what he has done for me.
He is Strong & Brave
On the surface, I seem strong & brave & optimistic. But Chloe, if you’re watching us from above, you know the truth. I’m not strong. I’m not brave. I’m not optimistic. He is. Your daddy carries me through my grief. He wipes away my tears, calms me when I’m troubled. He reassures me that you are safe, and that I did not cause this. I have felt so guilty, I have felt so broken. But he is with me, constantly keeping my head above water. Wrapping me in his arms and loving me unconditionally. I have had to lean on your father more times than I can count. When I am overcome with fear or anxiety, he holds me and says, “no matter what happens we will get through it together; as a family.” He is my strength.
He is Hardworking & Generous
Throughout those 10 weeks you and I were in the hospital, your dad stepped up to the plate with no hesitation. He showed me every day how much he loves us. He worked anywhere from 60-75 hours a week at his hourly job, and then squeezed in side jobs in the evenings so that he could provide everything for us. Monday-Friday, he worked those long & hard hours. Then every single Friday after work, he hopped in the car & drove 3.5 hours to Little Rock to hang out with us.
The weekends were my favorites. Every Friday morning I woke up so happy, because I knew I would get to see him that evening. He made me laugh constantly and brought me so much happiness. Even after a long work week & a long drive, he was always in such a good mood. He never, not even once, complained about the load that was on his back. He wanted to do those things for us, Chloe. He would do anything for us.
Still he continues to work so many long, hard hours. And after work, he is always either doing projects at the house, building tables and furniture, or helping someone who needs him. He’s the most productive man I’ve ever known. Your daddy is such a hard worker. He inspires me. And you inspire him.
He is Supportive & Tender
That night, I could hardly say a word. I could do nothing more than cry and hold you in my arms. I don’t remember much about that night, it was all a blur and I literally feel like I partially lost my vision. And my hearing. The world was no longer a beautiful color;
it was dark. And cruel.
But there are a few vivid details about your dad that I do remember. Moments where his amazing character and beautiful soul shined through despite the terrible pain he was feeling. Moments where he protected me.
I remember that right after you passed away, and while we were holding you together for the first time, your dad was in complete awe of your perfection. He held me so tight, crying, while I held you.
I remember him whispering in my ear; “she’s so beautiful.” multiple times. I could see the pain and pride in his face. He was so proud of you.
I remember that as the nurses and doctors wheeled me back into the room that I gave birth to you in, your daddy held your hand—tears in his eyes, while he told them; “Thank you so much for everything.” I saw tears fill their eyes when he said those words. I could feel their pain. I could also feel their gratitude to him for being so kind despite a terrible circumstance. I was so proud of him for telling the medical team, “Thank you” that night. Beautiful words of appreciation in a moment of complete despair. He amazed me in that moment. I still couldn’t say the words myself, but I was grateful that he did. I fell
even more in love with him. I clung even tighter to him.
I remember he never left my side. He laid there in the twin hospital bed with me that whole terrible night & wiped my tears as they fell.
I remember in the following days, weeks, and months— your dad was always there when I needed him. Whether it was a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to, someone to answer my deep questions about scriptures & life after death theories, or just simply someone to make me laugh. He was my go-to. He has been everything I could ever need and more. Chloe, your dad is my hero.
He Loves us Both—So Much
Your Dad truly takes care of me. The night after your passing, we were at my parents house. We were lying there in my old room, talking about you, when your daddy said to me; “I can feel Chloe’s love for you. I have always loved you so much, but it has magnified. This Love is intense, indescribable. She wants me to take care of you, and the only thing I ever want to do is make sure you have everything you need & that you know how much we love you.” We had such an amazing conversation following those words. We spoke of you, what you inspired us to do, and how we were going to do better; be better.
I remember those words, because they meant everything to me. Your daddy could feel how much you loved me and he wanted to show me that love for the rest of his existence. Your dad has always loved me and has always shown it, but through your love, His has magnified. He carries on your spirit with his love and strength—because he loves you. You are a part of him forever.
Sweet little girl, your daddy thinks about you all of the time. We will carry you in our hearts until the day we get to see you again.
“A mother instinctively protects her child. A grieving mother instinctively protects her child’s memory.”
I remember the very first time I cried as a flight attendant. It was Mother’s Day. I was in the lounge waiting for my sign in, and it just hit me...tears, out of nowhere. I was not a mother at that time, I was just so sad that I couldn’t be home to celebrate it with my mom. The woman who gave everything to me my whole life, the woman who literally gave me life. My older brothers were out of the house, I was out of the house & out of town, so it was up to my little brother and sister to make sure it was a special day for her. Of course they did...but for the first time ever, I wasn’t a part of heading it up.
My mom is literally an angel. She's a beautiful soul who deserves the whole world. Loving, selfless, forgiving, and service oriented. She was a stay-at-home mom, so I would come home from school or work to a clean & loving home, food to eat, and someone to talk to about my whole day. I never had to worry that my needs wouldn’t be met, or that my thoughts and struggles couldn’t be talked about. There were many nights growing up that I would stay in my parents room on their rocking chair all night, just talking about things that were bothering me...and they would always listen. I never doubted for a second that I was blessed. I knew how loved I was, and I was thankful.
Whatever struggle we had, Mom made it her struggle. Whatever battle we were fighting, Mom made it her battle. When any of us were having a hard time; whether it was a breakup, feeling lonely at school, cyber bullying, etc; I could see the pain and hurt in her eyes. She was always our safe place. She was our Mother. It was her natural instinct to protect us and take care of us. And she did an amazing job at that; she still does.
When I found out I was pregnant with Chloe, my natural instinct was to do all I could to protect her in my womb. I knew I lived my life in a healthy way; I always had. But when I found out there was a human life growing inside of me, I wanted to take it a step further. What could I do to protect her? What could I do to make her completely comfortable? I loved her so much already.
It truly is a mother’s natural instinct to protect her child. During pregnancy, that’s all I wanted to do. Protect Chloe.
During the complications of pregnancy and the grief my mom has watched me go through; that’s all she has wanted to do. Protect me.
When we found out there were some complications with my pregnancy, the first thought I had was; How can I protect my baby from this?
And the first person I called was...my mom.
When I was first placed on bedrest at home, the only thing on my mind was; keeping Chloe comfortable.
The first person who came to my rescue to do all of our housework and fix our meals...my mom.
When my water broke & I was told I was being admitted to the hospital 3.5 hours away from home, my only question was;
“Is this hospital the best place for Chloe to be?”
When the ambulance pulled up to the hospital and I saw Derrick right behind me in our car; the person right behind him pulling up was...
During those 10 weeks in the hospital, my favorite part of every day was hearing her little heartbeat and knowing she was okay.
Chloe is still safe.
During those 10 weeks in the hospital, my mom's favorite part of the week was driving 2.5 hours to spend the whole day cooped up in a hospital room.
She wanted to make sure her daughter (and granddaughter) were still okay.
When Chloe was born and I felt her beautiful presence, I was in a state of pure joy; happiness; love.
I was completely devoted to keeping her safe and protected.
When the doctors explained to me there was nothing they could do to save her, I looked at her with blurred vision and told her how sorry I was. I wasn’t able to protect my daughter. Even though it was the only thing in the world I ever wanted to do, my natural instinct, I couldn’t. I had no control in this world, and all I could do was repeat over and over again; “I’m so sorry…”
As my mom has watched me suffer through this grief, I have also watched her struggle. I can feel her sorrow, too. Her wish that she could save me from this heartache. Her desire to take away my pain. Her natural instinct to protect me from despair. I feel that she is broken because she knows she can’t fix what has happened. She can’t bring Chloe back to life, and she can’t heal my hurting soul. As I said to my daughter in that moment she slipped away; my mother still says to me…”I’m so sorry…” while she is grieving the loss of her granddaughter; and watching her daughter navigate through life after the loss of a child.
In every way, mothers are beautiful. We create life, we carry life, we sustain life, and we love our children more than ourselves. Mothers are a blessing to this world. Especially my mother. I am eternally grateful for her. And I am eternally grateful for Chloe--the beautiful angel girl who made me a mother.
As Mother's Day approaches, it feels as if my heart is being ripped out all over again. There's an emptiness; a hole that I can't fill. This is the hardest Mother’s Day of all. The first Mother’s Day as a mother...but a grieving mother. I can’t protect my daughter anymore; that is in Jesus’ hands. All I can do now, is protect her memory. I know what she stands for. I know who she is. She is a perfect soul, a beautiful reflection of Christ’s love for me. God sent her to us on purpose. To this loving home, that will never forget her. This little girl, although she didn’t get to stay long...is a miracle. She is completely loved. And even though death feels like the end sometimes; it’s not the end. I know we will see her again.
For my mother--The woman who has stayed by my side during the best days and the worst days. The woman who has held me while I cry since the beginning of my time here on earth...& continues to do so. The woman who guides me through my journey of life, love, and loss. The woman who sets a beautiful example to her children every day, in every way. Thank you for loving me and for never letting me down.
4 Lessons Chloe’s Life Taught Me
“We don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.”
How easy it has been these past few years to forget about the needs of others and to become completely consumed in my own life. I’m not saying I was a bad person, just a busy person who had a lot going on and never really stepped outside of myself. I lived in a bubble; almost a fairytale land where nothing ever went wrong and everyone was as happy as I was. I became somewhat selfish. I was kind to others, I accepted others, but I didn't understand how much pain there really was in the world. I was happy, and it didn’t really occur to me that there were people who were truly struggling, and could have benefited from a small act of kindness from me. I grew physically and mentally; but was suffering spiritually.
Chloe’s life, along with these 5 months of grieving her loss, has taught me so many truths about this life. There are so many things you can never learn if you are never completely and truly broken. Every part of me wishes Chloe was still here, and that God would have just taught me these lessons another way. However, I don’t get a say in that...she is already onto her next chapter. Her purpose still remains; Love, Light, Healing, and Faith. I am still here to help her fulfill that purpose. I have decided to write out a list of 4 lessons this experience has taught me.
(Lesson 1) People Struggle Every Day. Be Kind, No Matter What
Just because we are blind to others’ suffering, does not mean it doesn't exist. One of my favorite hymns growing up was always “Lord, I Would Follow Thee.” I know it by heart, and if I was ever asked what my favorite hymn was...this was always my answer.
In the 2nd verse it says;
“Who am I to judge another when I walk imperfectly? In the quiet, heart is hidden. Sorrow that the eye can’t see. Who am I to judge another? Lord, I would follow thee.”
I loved this verse, because it always reminded me to love others no matter what. Judging someone else was not my place. Even Jesus, throughout his perfect life, simply loved everyone. He was never judgemental, never unkind, and He never made anyone feel unworthy of His presence.
After the loss of my daughter, it has taken on a new meaning. “In the quiet, heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see.” As I came back to work in January, I did have to ‘hide’ my heart. I didn’t show anyone that I was struggling. I shuttled 300 passengers to/from their location daily. I pretended to be happy for the sake of my colleagues. I watched babies come aboard the plane and smiled, when I actually felt like crying. I held baby girls as families settled into their seats; each time wishing I was holding my little girl. I went into the bathroom countless times to cry; and came out smiling as if nothing had happened. I did my job, but I was spacey from time to time. Forgetting little things, as I’m sure that frustrated my crews. But usually, I told them nothing of what was going on in my life. No one could see my pain. I smiled while I was in the public eye. Then I wondered, how many others have I come across that felt they needed to hide their hearts? Sorrow that the eye can’t see...
I began speaking to strangers about their daily struggles. I began to understand that almost everyone is going through something. Child loss, multiple miscarriages, infertility, loss of a spouse or parent, abusive relationships, high risk surgery recovery, terminal illness, divorce, loss of a loved one or friend, loss of a home, financial stresses, anxiety, depression, etc. The more I learned about others, the more I realized; Life is just plain hard. Heartbreaking. Terrible. Sad. Stressful. We, as humans, love so deeply and mourn so completely. We are not here on earth to live an easy life. We are here to be tested, and to grow. We cannot grow without challenges. Truly, some people are challenged with much more than others. But we are promised an insurmountable amount of joy in the end, if we will endure.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from Chloe’s life, is that life is hard. You never know what the person next to you could be going through. So in every situation, no matter what, be kind. Love one another, as Jesus loves us. We are all brothers and sisters, and we are all here to help each other. If someone rubs you the wrong way, be kind. You never actually know what they are going through.
(Lesson 2.) There is darkness in the world, but there is also so much LIGHT.
As I sat in my hospital bed for 10 weeks, waiting for the arrival of Chloe; I watched the news, got on Facebook, and read about what was going on in the world. It seemed to me that the Devil was really attacking our planet. There was so much division between us. So much hate. So many disasters. When you turn on the news, rarely do you see any love. It was unsettling to watch what was going on in the world, thinking; why can’t we all just love each other? Wouldn't it be easier that way?
But then, as time went on, I witnessed first hand all of the Christlike love in the world. When my stay in the hospital was made public, I couldn't believe the outpour of love that was extended to our family.
Family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers called, texted, messaged, prayed and came to visit.
I was sent many packages and flowers.
The realty company we had bought our house from, (The Limbird Team) sent $500 worth of gift cards for eating out, which really helped with the food expenses...since we were so far away from home.
A wonderful nurse bought Chloe some adorable little outfits. One of the techs brought me tons of fruit roll ups, because she heard me say I had been craving them. Another nurse handmade Chloe some bibs and headbands.
A girl I went to high school with (Whitley Lind & her family) made the 2.5 hour drive to offer me a free maternity photo shoot and wouldn’t even accept money for gas.
Friends, family, and old neighbors came to visit me. A hospital is the last place I would want to spend my day, but these people made me feel like they truly loved me and wanted to be there for me. My visitors never failed to bring me something, whether it be coloring books, fruit, goodies, or something for Chloe.
Women from church hand knitted Chloe some outfits and hats.
My grandma stocked up my whole room with my favorite snacks, and always sent a poster with a picture, saying how much the family loves me.
After watching all of these people extend a helping hand to me while I was in need, I slowly realized how many opportunities I had missed to help someone in need, when I was well and able. When I had the time and the means.
After the loss of our sweet daughter, the love and service extended to us only increased.
The nurse who was with me the better part of the day, didn’t find out about our loss until the next morning. She came to my room, hugged me, and brought me a beautiful plate that says, “Best Mom Ever.”
After finally arriving home, it seemed that we got a package in the mail or a card every day.
We received so many gifts in her name. Handmade blankets, quilts, personalized necklaces, teddy bears, bracelets, a beautiful framed painting of Jesus holding a baby, handmade signs with poems about our angel. Some of these gifts were from people I had never even met before, or people I had only met in passing once or twice. A woman Derrick worked for once, sent a check in the mail. Our funeral costs were completely paid for, thanks to our family. Our headstone was paid for by a family member as well. We were not prepared for funeral & headstone costs, but because of the love and generosity of these people, we did not have to worry. It was all taken care of.
People from church brought meals for us, and books for us to read. Friends and family came over often to watch out for us and make sure we were okay.
To this day, 5 months later, we still recieve beautiful gifts in honor and remembrance of Chloe. I can’t express enough how thankful I am when someone remembers her life in this way. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
A few weeks ago, a wonderful woman (Amy O’Pry) approached me with an idea to keep Chloe’s memory alive through this website. A place for all of the music inspired by her, a place for my thoughts, a place for her purpose to live on. What an amazing gift. She helped me put this whole site together, and it was an extraordinary act of love. This act of kindness is so appreciated; another way to spread Chloe’s message.
Just today, I received an absolutely beautiful necklace that has her picture, her name, and a charm that reads, “my angel.” I cried happy tears as I was full of so much gratitude. Chloe is loved and remembered, always. People are so good. Full of so much love and light. I have come across so many beautiful souls as I navigate through this grief.
So sure, there is some darkness in the world. Sometimes it seems hopeless...but there is also so much beauty, light, and love. I have come to understand Christ’s love for me, through other people. They have been my earth angels.
(Lesson 3) We Can All Be Earth Angels
After witnessing first hand all of the beautiful souls in this world that have helped me whether or not they know me; I have come to understand that I, too, can be an instrument in His hands. I, too, can help someone who is in need. These humans who expressed their love for me during my darkest hours, are my earth angels. They are people, but they are in tune with the Lord’s will, and they are angels.
Before Chloe, if I had ever heard that an acquaintance of mine had gone through something absolutely devastating; I would think to myself, “That must be so hard. I feel so bad.” But that’s as far as my thoughts would go. I always felt that if someone was struggling, they would want their space. The last thing they would want was for me (a stranger) to come up to them, acknowledge their pain, give them a hug, and tell them how sorry I was. It seemed to me, they would want to be left alone. It also seemed to me that small talk would not suffice. I always felt that the best thing, was to give these people their space and let their families and loved ones watch over them. I know now how ignorant that sounds, after going through something devastating myself. But the truth is, I was ignorant. I’m not afraid to admit that. I had never dealt with loss. I had never dealt with pain. I had never felt sorrow or sadness. As I’ve grown, and as I’ve struggled with loss, I’ve come to understand that there’s no greater sound than the sound of Chloe’s name coming from someone’s mouth. There is no greater gift than someone remembering her life in small and simple ways. There’s no greater comfort than a hug when I least expect it.There’s no greater love than the love of Christ. And so many people have shown me that love. I can’t even express how thankful I am.
My earth angels have inspired me to do better, to be better. They have given me hope, comfort, and peace when I least expect it; and when I need it the most. They have shown me that we are truly all brothers and sisters. They have taught me that we can all be earth angels, if we will listen to the promptings given to us. We can help each other. We can change the world. We can overcome the darkness; for there is so much light.
(Lesson 4) We are all so LOVED. Beyond Comprehension.
I don’t think we can ever fully understand the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus have for all of us. It seems overwhelming when you really think about it. How many souls are living on this earth, and how many souls roamed the earth before? How can we all truly be loved by Him? How can He really know us? Our feelings, our thoughts, our pain, our desires.
The other day, I was walking through the ATL airport rubbing shoulders with basically everyone. There were way too many people there. Crowds make me very uncomfortable, they always have. When I got my job as a flight attendant, I had to try to get over that. Crowds are everywhere; especially in airports. Especially in the ATL airport, which is where I’m based. As I was walking through this huge airport, watching hundreds of people pass me and feeling dozens of people breathing on me; noticing crowds at the gates, crowds on the escalators, and crowds on the trams, a very unsettling thought occurred to me.
The ATL airport accommodates over 260,000 passengers DAILY. That’s not including all of the flight attendants, pilots, gate agents, etc. that walk through the airport for work. Imagine we take all of the people who were supposed to fly through ATL today, and put them all in one GIANT room for one whole month.
A whole month sounds like a very long time. Imagine if we all stayed in that one room with all of those people with one goal in mind; to get to know everyone in the room by the time the month was over. There’s no way we’d be able to do it. A year isn’t even long enough to get to know 260,000+ people. I could stay in that room for a lifetime and still not reach that goal. I could try to learn their names, their hobbies, their passions, their beliefs, and their struggles, but it’s a guarantee that I would only be able to retain a few of these people’s stories and information in my brain.
260,000 people is a lot of people. And that’s only the people who traveled in ATL that day.
Then I started thinking, that’s only a small fraction of how many people are alive on this earth today. And we are in the year 2018.
There are over 7 billion people living on this earth RIGHT NOW.
There have been billions in the years before us.
There will be billions in the years after us.
So, how is it possible that God truly knows each and every one of us?
How is it true that our souls are valuable to him?
It doesn’t make sense...it doesn’t seem possible.
Those were the thoughts going through my mind the whole day. Then I found myself becoming distraught about that whole concept. God probably didn’t even know I had lost my daughter. He has greater things to worry about than my happiness.
It was that night that I was struggling (I wrote about the events in my blog “God Hears Our Cries & Answers them.) It was that night that I was crying out to him, asking for some sort of understanding. Something to help me know He was real. Something to help me know He loved me.
It was the next day that I received my answer. I was completely in awe of God, and the reality that he was there with me the night before; as I was crying out to Him. He had heard me. The experience also taught me that not only was he with me that night, He was with me the next day. He was with me always. He is a part of me. And I a part of Him.
Still incredibly hard to comprehend, but I know it’s true. God loves us all. And he hears us all. And he’s with us all. He knows our fears, our struggles, our doubts, our desires. He knows our feelings of sorrow & lonliness. He has an immense amount of compassion for us, and an infinite amount of love for us. So it doesn’t matter that there are billions of other people in the world, and it doesn’t matter that there were billions of people before us. Somehow, he knows and loves us all. Although it’s beyond our comprehension, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. We have much to learn, we are nowhere close to where we should be. It’s okay that we can’t understand it. All that matters, is it’s real.
Something so interesting and amazing happened to me on my flight today.
I need to start by saying, last night was really hard for me.
I sat in my hotel room and just cried to God. I said to him,
“I can’t understand this.”
“I don’t know why you would let this happen to me.”
“This isn’t fair!”
After venting to God, I turned it around by praying to him and I thanked Him for all that I do have.
Then I asked Him for more understanding and peace. I asked Him to send us children that we could raise here on this Earth, in this life. That we could raise these children up in righteousness, so that we can all reunite as a family; with God and with Chloe some day. These are the things I pray for every morning and every night.
I’ve been struggling so much with not only the loss of my daughter, but also the constant fear that this could happen again. What if I get pregnant again? My water could break early, again. We could lose a child, again.
My body, the body I’ve taken such good care of my whole life, could cause our baby to suffer…again. What if I can’t carry a baby successfully? What if every attempt we make, ends in tragedy? I can’t stand the thought, and sometimes the anxiety is more than I can handle. So I pray…because that’s all I can do.
Last night was one of those nights where I felt helpless. I missed my daughter, I was mad at God because I couldn’t keep her, and I was anxiously wondering if I was ever going to be able to have and keep kids of my own. This morning, God answered my prayer. He wants me to understand. He needs me to be on His side.
It was a flight from Atlanta to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was flying on the MD-88 and was working the 2L position. When you work 2L, you have to sit in what we call the “Princess Seat.” It’s a super awkward seat because you are facing the passengers, your legs are in their way, and you either all avoid eye contact or decide to engage in small talk. It was the first flight out of the 3 days that I had to sit there. Across from me, were 2 young and pretty girls that were close to my age. Anywhere from 20-25. Upon landing, they started a conversation with me.
“How long have you worked for Delta?”
“Wow, do you love it? It seems like such a cool job!”
I went on to talk about the pros and cons of the job.
I explained that I do it for the travel benefits, free flights forever... doesn’t get better than that. We talked about how it was day 6 of flying for me, so I was extremely excited to go home today... 8 days off, and I was so ready for them. We talked about my awesome husband, and how excited I was to see my dog. They talked about why they were traveling... best friends on a trip to Florida for spring break, and they were on their way home after a week of fun. They talked about Michigan, and how it seems boring on the surface...but there’s actually so much to do and see there. They told me some of the things I should do next time I have a long layover in Grand Rapids.
The typical small talk. I had a smile on my face the whole time, even the whole flight.
I only talked about the positive, uplifting things in my life. I never gave any hints that I was struggling in any way. It was a good conversation. After the small talk was over, we stopped talking for a few minutes.
After about 3 minutes of silence, one of the girls looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, I know this is so weird...but I feel like God is speaking to me right now. He really wants me to pray for you. Would that be okay with you?” I said, “sure, I’ll accept prayers"... thinking she would take my name and pray for me later. I will always accept prayers. I know there is power in them.
She went on to ask, “is there something you’re struggling with? I know I need to pray for something specific.”
I said, “well, I’m not going to go into detail. But I will definitely accept a prayer.” She paused, then asked…
“Is it infertility?” I was in shock that she mentioned infertility. It’s not exactly infertility, but I am worried that I will not be able to have children. So in a sense; yes. Same category. I asked; “What?” She stuttered a little this time, as if she felt totally awkward asking but needed to know. “I mean…. um.. is it infertility?”
She didn’t know how to reword it. So she just simply asked again.
At that point, my mouth dropped open and I felt moved to tell her my story.
“No, not exactly… but my husband and I did just lose our baby girl ...she was full term, and we lost her because my body failed. I do struggle with not knowing if I can carry my children.” As I told her this, a tear fell down my cheek.
She said, “God speaks, and he wants you to know how much he loves you.
He wants you to know there are spirits coming to join your family soon...
and they will be amazing, shining examples of Him. Strong, loving, incredible spirits.”
So that’s why she had an impression that I was struggling with infertility. God laid it on her heart to tell me that I would have children even though I wasn’t sure at this point that I would. She didn’t know exactly what had broken me, but she did know what message she needed to send to me. And that message was loud and clear. Ask God, with real intent, and he will answer you. He loves you.
I couldn’t believe this conversation was happening. I went on to talk more about what happened, the 10 weeks in the hospital after my water broke, the 12 hour labor, the absolutely beautiful and perfect baby girl who only lived for 27 minutes. My guardian angel. Chloe.
The girl then said, “is it okay if I pray now?” I said, “sure!”... we all bowed our heads in that circle of the MD-88 2L door. She prayed for our peace and comfort as we mourn the loss of our little one. She prayed for safety for the beautiful spirits that are joining our family. She prayed for our family. She prayed for healing. She thanked God for his love and grace, for speaking to her on that day. It was a beautiful prayer.
Before she left the aircraft, I asked her; “How did you know? I mean, it’s not that I’m infertile, but it’s been so heavy on my heart. I just didn’t know if I could have children, because of what has happened. So it terrifies me to try again. I was angry last night, and after anger, I was praying so hard that I could have other children that we could keep here.” She replied, “because God speaks. He loves us so much, and He knows each of us. He hears us. He knew you needed something today...and he wants you to keep on going. He seriously loves you so much. And he has plans for you and your family.”
This message was sent directly to me by a young woman, close to my age, who was beautiful in every way. She knows and loves God, and she acts on her promptings. Because she does this, she helps other people along the way. It is so important to remember that we are here to help others along their journey. If we feel these promptings, we should act on them. I can’t express enough how much this woman’s words meant to me. Because she acted on her feelings, I am in a state of peace. I know God hears our cries. And he loves us so much.
Singer/Songwriter from Arkansas; with a passion & goal to create real music that speaks to the soul.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.