By: Vicki Kiefer, Share Accounting Manager
Ten years ago, seven months after our second early pregnancy loss, my husband and I attended our first Share Walk for Remembrance and Hope. I don’t remember much of what was said at the memorial service, and that year we had not yet included our babies’ names to be read aloud. But I do remember the balloons – we released ours amidst the K last names – and the tears, so, so many uncontrollable tears. Mike and I held each other’s hands so tightly as we quietly walked, sharing pain and sadness with others around us. In what had been a very private and closely held 14 months since our first loss, and a time surrounded by so many friends having successful pregnancies and welcoming new little lives into this world, it felt “okay” and acceptable to hurt so openly and publicly that day among those grieving the same losses. We walked that day, and again the following year, childless with only each other to hold, no stroller to push or baby carrier to snuggle; yet at the Share Walk and in every aspect of our involvement with Share, we were acknowledged and validated as parents of two dear angel babies, and that made us stronger as individuals and as a couple.
Two years later, on a sunny but very cold October morning, we introduced our two-month-old twin daughters to their first Share Walk. All of us bundled up tightly, Mike and I listened as our angel babies’ names were read, and we watched through tears as our balloons sailed away in honor of the older siblings our daughters would never know. This time we walked not alone, but with a double stroller full of newness and hope. We walked among many who had been mere acquaintances two years prior but who were now close friends. Those whose journeys and babies’ names we knew well from support group meetings and long conversations, and who rejoiced with us in both happiness and relief in the safe arrival of our daughters.
We have continued to attend the Share Walk each year, aside from one year while we were living out of state, and nearly every year with our parents also by our side. In August 2013 our family grew by one with the arrival of our little boy, and he too attended his first Share Walk at just two months old. Our son may have completed our family that year, but the memories of our two angel babies and of the short time each of them was with us has always remained part of who we are as a family. They were our beginning, and he is our finale, and everything in between has shaped us into all that we are.
As time passes, each year inevitably brings busier times and schedules that tend to pull us all in many different directions. We are now eleven years out from our first loss, and while our babies may not always be in the forefront of our minds and our day to day, they live deeply in our hearts. Their short lives are honored in their ultrasound pictures that hang on our bedroom wall, in their memorial brick at the Angel of Hope at Blanchette Park, and through hearing and seeing their names each year at the Share Walk. Our daughters, now eight years old, know about Mommy and Daddy’s angel babies, and they recognize the importance of all of the babies’ names that are read and the balloons, bubbles and pinwheels they have witnessed over the years at each Walk. Each year the Share Walk brings us as a family back to center, to focus and reflect. There are still tears each year, and even more so this year in seeing their beautiful names on the new Memorial Wall, but we welcome and embrace them, and perhaps even look forward to letting go. No matter how many years may pass, no matter the location or the details, the Share Walk will always be our priority, our day to honor our angel babies and our day to remember; and for this we are forever thankful.