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Heartfelt Expression

Building community, and supporting one another through heartfelt expression

Stephanie Webster

Roots to stay

grounded and hold

strong your memory.

Leaves that fly high

to know you are

everywhere with me

This beautiful quote, and design was created by Alissa Stack, an artist from A.M.S Art Designs. A bereaved mother herself,  she had designed this beautiful piece in 2014 for Darren and Stephanie Webster, for their precious baby girl. 

Stephanie shares, " We took our daughter, Milla, off of life support at 5 days old.  While it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make, Milla's Doctor said something amazing, ' You're taking the pain away from her and putting it on yourself for the rest of your life so Milla can be at peace.'  I remind myself of this everyday that the hurt I feel is so she can be without pain. 
By some miracle, one year later, we gave birth to our rainbow baby.  Our daughter Emilie was born, on what would have been Milla's first birthday. "

This incredible photograph Stephanie wanted to share, was taken of their family, including Milla. No matter what, she is forever part of their family.

Thank you so much to Stephanie, Darren and their family for sharing these beautiful words. We remember baby Milla with you.  Thank you for being so brave and sharing your heart.

Thank you to Alissa for creating such a beautiful piece and being a part of this hearfelt project.  We honour you, your beautiful heart, and your baby.

Much love to you both.

Maria Johnson

This heartfelt expression comes from artist Maria Johnson. Maria is local to Lacombe, and wanted to participate to show her support for loss within our community, and the ministry of Healing Hearts. 

Maria quotes: “My inspiration to paint, the often unappreciated dandelion is its ability to thrive under the harshest of circumstances all the while showing us a bright shiny face. Following is the mesmerizing airy fluff upon which hopes and dreams are cast. Seeds are parachuted on the wind to new ground where the cycle continues and new life begins again.

As a mother whose greatest joy and most important aspects of life revolve around my three grown children, my heart aches for those mothers who must suffer and endure the tragic loss of a child."

Thank you so much to Maria for painting this beautiful piece of art, and sharing these beautiful words with us all. Your support for the community is so very appreciated. 

Jenn Hamborg: The Significance of a Butterfly

This beautiful artwork was created by Kristi Thebeau. Thank you so much Kristi for creating such a beautiful, meaningful, and touching design, one that holds so much significance to me, and my family.

I wanted to share this small piece of my story, a symbol of love, with this beautiful card created for this cause, and this weeks heartfelt story.

The significance of a butterfly:

Our first loss happened in 2011, which was unexpected, and completely devastating. I felt incredibly alone with my feelings, heartbroken at what had happened, and struggled to find the support. I had reached out to others, and with help, began to find healing in my journey.

I remember a month after our loss, my husband had gone back to work, out of town, and I had decided to travel with our daughter to Saskatchewan, to visit family. It was November, and already so cold. Seasons in Canada, can be extreme, and I remember that November was snowy and cold. With just a month or so after our loss, I was feeling down, and was randomly searching the internet to keep my mind occupied. I had stumbled upon a quote about a butterfly that really resonated with me, and brought a bit of comfort to my heart. The quote had stated, “A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam, and for a brief moment, its glory and beauty belong to the world. But then it flies again, and although we wish it could have stayed, we feel so lucky to have seen it.” I really loved that quote, and it reminded me so much of our loss. Although that sweet baby was only here for but a moment, I feel so thankful to have the time I did. A brief moment here, and forever in our hearts. My daughter was napping, so I came upstairs to have some quiet time to reflect alone in the house. My father in law had come in, and I had went to the door to greet him. To my surprise, in the cold of winter, a butterfly flew in the house. Where there shouldn’t have been a butterfly, there was. In the cold, and snow, there was. I really felt like God had reached out to me in that moment, sharing His love and hope with me. Wrapping me in warm hug. Butterflies, and that quote, still holds such meaning.

We have experienced two losses, and although nothing can take the hurt away, or the pain we have felt from the losses we have experienced, having that tangible symbol of love has been strength for me on days when I my heart feels so heavy.  Butterflies bring so much joy to myself, and our family.

Judy Giesbrecht: Ashlyn's Story

This heartfelt expression has been created by the beautiful and brave Judy Giesbrecht.  Judy quotes: "I am a Mother of 6, blessed with 4 walking through life with me, one who I held in my heart, and one who I held in my heart and in my arms, but who left this earth too soon. This picture was created from a photo of my husband and I holding the hand of our tiny daughter Ashlyn Grace, who is forever loved."

Judy shares these incredible words:

She would be 15... begging for the chance to practice her driving anytime she could... dreaming of grade 9 grad and the dress she would wear... busy with music, art and sports... wearing makeup and doing her nails... giggling with her sister as they shared secrets... missing her older brother but also enjoying being the oldest for once... dreaming of the future... high school, college, the ways she would change the world...

Ashlyn Grace was born January 4 2002. She was born at 24 weeks and weighed only 1 lb 5 oz and was 12 " long. She was impossibly tiny... and impossibly beautiful. Psalm 139:13-14 says "for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made". Never was that more apparent than when I looked at her... seeing every part of her in miniature form, so perfectly created. Hair, deep blue eyes, impossibly tiny fingernails and toenails... God's perfect creation.

Despite her early arrival we were blessed to hear her cry when she was born. I have never heard a more precious sound than the sound of her cry, for it meant she had life, and where there is life there is hope. It was the only time we heard her cry because they had to intubate her immediately and then brought her to me so I could see her for a brief moment before she was whisked away to NICU.

The following days were a lifetime. As Ashlyn struggled to live with a body not yet ready for this world, we prayed and cried and clung to hope. Days spent by the side of her incubator, unable to hold her because she was just too small. Looking at all the tubes and lines attached to her to keep her alive. Watching the monitors, and reading her charts even though I didn't understand it. Watching as she crashed and a team of doctors and nurses fought to keep her alive while I hardly breathed... and when they succeeded and she was back, locking myself into a bathroom and crying. Feeling torn between my two children, my 3 year old who still needed his mama, and this tiny baby fighting to live.

There were moments of joy. I was allowed to hold her once. She was all bundled up in blankets because she was so small she was unable to keep herself warm and it was hard to tell where the tiny baby was. But I could hold her, and kiss her tiny face. Our son wanted to hold her and was so happy and proud when he held her hand. It is one of the most beautiful family pictures I own. Our son would get possessive of his baby sister and make us laugh. Family and friends came to see her and surrounded us with love, prayers and support.

She continued to worsen, until the doctors told us there was no hope. It was no longer a question of "Is she going to die?" but instead "when is she going to die?". The hospital chaplain came at our request and baptised her. We told our 3 year old that she was sick and that she was going to die and he said "she's not sick, I will go tell her she's not sick". And he went into the NICU and looked at her with her breathing tube and chest tube, IV's and monitors and then smiled at me and said "See Mommy? I told you she is not sick". The doctors asked us the impossible question "Do you want to remove her from supports she is on and let her go?"

An impossible question. An impossible task. For how do you give up on your child? How do you say this is the end? And yet... and yet... the thought of her dying alone in her bed tore me apart. We prayed. We fought God. We asked for his strength and guidance. And as He always does, he gave us the strength to do the impossible.

We told the doctors we wanted to remove her breathing tube. They allowed me to hold her and many member of our family who had come from all over surrounded us with love. Then they left and the nurses dressed her in beautiful white gown that someone had made and donated for this purpose. They handed her to me and I held her ... and the doctor removed the breathing tube and she died. She was 19 days old.

My heart broke, shattered, my world collapsed. We went home without our baby. Instead of planning a baby shower we planned a funeral. Instead of buying a crib we bought a tiny casket. Instead of singing songs to her as I rocked her late into the night we sang songs at her funeral. I was broken. I was angry.

God comes through though, as he always does. Family surrounded us. My sister would take my son for a couple of days a week so that instead of having to be a mom I could grieve fully. I yelled at God for taking my child. I was angry and bitter. My soul felt shredded. I could no longer sing.

There is a song that I love, a song that for months I could not sing. "When Peace like a River".

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

when sorrows like sea billows roll;

whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say,

"It is well, it is well with my soul."

I could not sing it... could not force the words "It is well" from my mouth. And then one day I could. And I knew that I would be ok. Still grieving, still missing her.. but I would be ok.

Grieving is a process ... there is no end. Even 15 years later my heart can break for what was and what should be. But God does heal. I don't know why this happened. I don't have any answers. But I know that she is in heaven with God, where she is loved and cared for by him. And I know that I will see her again and my heart will be complete once more.

Thank you to Judy, for sharing the deepest parts of your heart. Your strength and love is incredible.  Ashlyn's little life has and will continue to change this world. 

We honour you, your heart, your family and your precious babies.  We remember with you.