As the weather gets warmer and we prepare for our next Evening of Remembrance, we wanted to take a moment to share information about the pavers at the Wings of Hope memorial site.
The image of these women walking to place flowers at the burial urn are from our first memorial service at the Wings of Hope site, and it perfectly brings to mind the following poem.
A Pair of Shoes
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes, uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes, they are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.
We have rituals for many things in life - weddings, funerals, baptisms, and more - and during those times we look to our faith leaders. For families experiencing pregnancy loss, we are not always sure about what kind of ritual we need to say goodbye, we just know we need something.
We are so thankful to Fr. John Kunz of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and Pastor Brad Jackson of Crossview Covenant Church for their leadership at the Evening of Remembrance. They comforted, prayed, offered words of reflection, and helped to provide that needed way to say goodbye.
It is our hope that in the future, other faith leaders from the community will also step forward to help lead the ecumenical services at the memorial.
Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. ~ George Iles
At the Evening of Remembrance Pastor Brad read a poem that reflects many of the questions and emotions parents have after losing a child in pregnancy or newborn death. We've heard from many who wanted a copy of that poem, so we're including it here. It is an adaptation from the original by Jennifer Wasik, What Makes a Mother?. We love her original poem, but just wanted a way to include the dads in our expression of remembrance.
Last night when I stopped by the Wings of Hope memorial site to check on the new fence, I was met with a bittersweet surprise. The first of the pavers had been engraved, and among them were my own and those of my family. As I circled the walkway, reading the names, sentiments, and remembrances, the tears fell as I was struck with a mix of emotions.
Names of babies loved and lost. Some lost decades ago and some achingly recently. Words of comfort from community members. Yet these words on the pavers are more than just carvings in stone. They are steps in healing for women, for families, and for a community as we come together to find a way to support each other in pregnancy loss. They are reminders that we are not alone, and that the lives of our babies lost in pregnancy are still cherished.
- Chris O., Wings of Hope Chair
[NOTES: There are more pavers completed than pictured, and there are still pavers to be engraved. If you would like to know if your paver has been engraved, please send me a note with the description of the paver - I have pictures of all completed pavers. We will update you here when all of the orders have been engraved. There are also still pavers available for engraving. All proceeds go to pay for the central monument, which we hope to have installed next week, and for the costs related to Wings of Hope services.]
As the Wings of Hope committee continues to plan and prepare for the Evening of Remembrance, we are reminded of the generosity of the community of Southern MN. In less than a year we have gone from a bare plot of ground at the cemetery to planning for the first burial and remembrance service - the circle of the monument site representing this full-circle moment. And none of this would be possible without the support from the community.
An example about this support comes in the way of flowers - but it is much more than just flowers. Hilltop Florist and Greenhouse will be donating white carnations for each family who wishes to recognize their children lost in pregnancy. During our Evening of Remembrance these families will be invited to place a flower at the burial urn, and say the name of that child if they wish. Each carnation will represent the life of a cherished child, and will provide an opportunity for some of these families to, for the first time, publicly recognize that significant loss.
At the entrance to the memorial site we have two pillars, and in preparation for the Evening of Remembrance, a family touched deeply by the grief of pregnancy loss is donating two beautiful planters to rest atop these pillars and welcome visitors to the site. So when you go to the memorial site, you'll see not just the flowers, but symbols of love and support - in memory of the Demuth 9.
These are more than just donations of flowers. The generosity of Hilltop Florist and Greenhouse is a demonstration of the kind of community support that we need and so appreciate, a way of embracing all of those in the area affected by pregnancy loss. The generosity of the family donating in memory of the Demuth 9 reminds us all that in grief we can rise to help lift others. These flowers are hope.
Thank you to all who have donated time, money, and resources to help support families of Southern MN who have experienced pregnancy loss - and for a future in the area where those who experience this type of loss will feel embraced by our community.
The salesclerks at the local shops likely thought we were just another clan buying flowers for Mother’s Day. And we were – but for a very special project – the Wings of Hope memorial site at Calvary Cemetery which offers an opportunity to remember all of the lives lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, and newborn death. Celebrating Mother’s Day at the cemetery might not be a joyful, peaceful, and empowering experience for many. But that is just what it was for me today as my mother and daughter joined me for planning, selecting, and placing the flowers and river rock (with some additional and much appreciated help from my husband and son).
It was much more than landscaping. For my mom and me, we were there as mothers who have lost, and as mothers who wished there could have been something more during those dark days. We were also there as women wanting in some small way to provide that something more for the next generation. It was about more than planting flowers and shrubs for Mother’s Day – it was about planting seeds of hope that families who experience the grief of pregnancy loss can also experience the comfort of knowing they do not have to travel the journey alone.
Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom – and to all of the mothers out there who have ever loved a child.
Chris O - Wings of Hope Committee Chair
Please join us for our very first service to remember the lives of children lost during pregnancy and newborn death. We would also love it if you could help share the word - you never know who might need this in their lives and how showing your support at this service might affect those in our community.
The members of our committee have all been on the journey of pregnancy loss, but in different ways. Learn more about why they are all so passionate about bringing awareness and comfort to families who lose a child during pregnancy.