By: Casey Zenner
When you lose a child the way you do life completely changes. You begin searching for anything and everything you can that reminds you of your baby. The physical signs, and tangible objects that you can squeeze which gives you that chance to feel closer to your child. For me, its butterflies and Dumbo things mostly. Anything I see with butterflies or Dumbo on it, I justify buying because it reminds me of my Avery. I don’t just drive my son to school anymore, I am driving him searching for the little yellow butterflies hoping to see one fly in front of the car. Any family outing we go on, I am not completely there in the moment, but trying to find Avery, I know she’s there, and it’s my job to find her signs. The way I do life, it’s changed. Avery changed that. On this journey it isn’t just your child that changes your life though. The small things that to most, are insignificant, they become life changing to you.
Anytime anyone sends me something and says “I thought you would like this, It reminded me of you and Avery” my heart melts.
When I first lost Avery, I was desperate for anything I could hold on to that reminded me of her. Losing a child in any capacity is isolating, but the isolation is even worse when you terminate for medical reasons because of the controversy surrounding abortion. My decision to TFMR does not minimize my love for my daughter. Those who TFMR grieve and love just like any other loss parent. I was hopeful to find a place that would help me heal and that’s when I came across A Memory Grows. A sweet mom named DeAndrea started this organization in honor of her son Max who passed away. She holds weekend retreats that offers healing activities for families in the depths of loss. I was very hesitant to attend because of my circumstances. I was nervous other parents would be angry and unsupportive because in my mind I felt they didn’t think I deserved to be there because I made the choice to end my child’s life, although it was not really a choice. Where as, in their case the choice was made for them as some of their children were born stillborn. They died shortly after birth, or they endured miscarriages. The complete opposite happened though. DeAndrea encouraged me to come, and told me she thought I’d be pleasantly surprised at how welcomed I would be. She was right. I was embraced with open arms, and Avery and I were accepted right away. It was such a healing weekend. That weekend alone is one of the best gifts anyone could have given me on this journey.
When you have a living child there’s often many things you take from granted. I know before losing Avery there was a lot I took for granted with my son, and many things I wish I would have done differently. I wish I would have really embraced his early days, taken more pictures, made more memories. I took it all for granted. Now I see little kids with their names on their backpacks running up to the building at school and I think to myself, I will never see Avery do that. I won’t see her name on anything. Her name won’t be in a graduation program, a wedding invitation, nothing. I see my son attached to certain stuffed animals, and I wonder what would Avery have been in to? Would she love Disney like her brother? Would she be my little pink loving princess? What would her name look like monogramed on all of her outfits and backpack? A incredible women by the name of Lisa helped answer those questions for me.
DeAndrea has had an abundance of people in her life interested in playing a vital role in the weekend. From coming in and doing art therapy, or making us the sweetest keepsakes, her people have showed up for her. Lisa spends her free time making families who attend the retreats a quilt in memory of their children. Mine was laying on the bed at the bed and breakfast when I arrived and it instantly brought me to tears. That weekend Avery was real to every single person at the retreat. She was real to people who had never even met me. Lisa didn’t know me, but yet she found a way to gift me something that would mean more to me than anything else I have been given in memory of Avery.
I now have the perfect size quilt I can snuggle with on nights my heart is extra heavy, a quilt Avery’s brother can sleep with when he’s missing his sister, a daily reminder that there is so much love out there for those of us in the loss community. Its now been 3 years since I lost Avery, and over the last few years I have been given many things that hold a special place in my heart.
Every day I fight an internal battle and desire to fight for Avery’s memory to not be forgotten.
It’s these gifts that keep me going. Every morning I wake up and see this quilt hanging next to my bed, and I am reminded that she won’t be forgotten. Her name is right there in writing. She is forever going to be loved. Those letters can’t be erased. Some days it is harder to find blessings than others, this special quilt makes it a little easier on those difficult days. To Lisa, thank you. Thank you for sharing your gift with those of us in the loss community who are hungry for ways to remember our children. For those tangible items to hold on to when we are having a really difficult day. Thank you for loving our children. Thank you for having such a big heart, and most of all, for being you.
All the love,
About Casey Zenner
My name is Casey! I am a wife, mother and friend. I have 2 dogs, a wonderful husband and am blessed to be the mama of Brayden, my spunky 3 yr old, and Avery, my angel baby. We are also foster parents on our journey to adoption! I live in Texas, am a stay at home mom and a travel agent. After losing Avery, I lost myself. While I attempted to find my way back I founded Avery’s Angels. A non profit that provides Angel Moms with comfort packages and cards after the loss of a child. (www.facebook.com/flyhighlittleones) There is someone always telling me how strong I am, when the truth is, when being strong is the only choice you have, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you begin to believe in your strength too.