“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4
Ever since our girls were born, Keao and I joined the parents club. In addition to being part of the married club, we had now ventured into different waters. We were completely overjoyed at being parents because for us, this club wasn’t so easy to join. We watched as some of our closest friends became parents, but for whatever reason, becoming a parent seemed just out of our reach.
As happy as we were to finally become parents, we also accepted with sadness that we would also become part of another not-so-happy club: parents that lost children. Because we gave birth so early, we knew that one of our triplets wouldn’t make it and once she was born, Gizmo lived for a few hours before passing away in my arms. Our day of joy would forever be marred with the memory of losing a child. What we couldn’t have known, however, was that only a few weeks later, we would earn a double membership. Born far too early, Astro got an infection that she simply couldn’t fight off and despite the best efforts of the doctors and nurses, she too passed away.
Praise God we have Slugger! She has no idea of the odds she has beaten and the miracle that she is. She is our constant reminder of why we wanted to become parents in the first place. The first Christmas after we lost our twins, we were invited to a ceremony put on by Kapiolani Hospital for parents that lost children. Being that we just brought Slugger home from the hospital, we declined. A year later, much stronger we did go and were amazed at how many people lost children. Parents and family members packed out the church. A year later, we again couldn’t make it because Slugger had to have surgery on what the doctors described as a growth in her skull. This year, however, we really wanted to go and make sure that we spent some time before the holidays remembering our girls. But instead of going to Kapiolani’s ceremony we were invited by our friends Kawika and Pua to another ceremony put on by the Neves Foundation.
The Neves Foundation is a non-profit group that helps parents and families that have lost a child. They offer grief support and even financial support to help pay for funerals and memorials. They are a class act group that allows you to grieve however you want and reminds you that you are not alone.
Honestly, we were a little apprehensive about going, but once we entered New Hope Metro we saw some familiar faces that made us believe we were in the right place. The night started with a few worship songs followed by an interview with a man that lost his teenage daughter in a car accident. While we sat there, Keao and I shed many a tear and hugged Slugger and Sunny a little more tightly. I really appreciated that this wasn’t just a time to remember, but a time to celebrate lives as well. This was a time to keep memories alive and while there were tears, there was also laughter as well.
As the night was wrapping up, they brought an interpretive dance group on stage to dance. Keao told Slugger to look at the dancers. Apparently Slugger misheard Keao because once the music started, Slugger ran up the middle aisle and tried to join them. I chased after her, pulled her in and quietly apologized to everyone in the front row. Much to my surprise, Max Neves, the man who started the foundation, showed Slugger gentleness and kindness and told me to let her dance. I protested a little because I knew that those dancers practiced for this and I didn’t want her to distract them. He insisted and Slugger got to dance with the group. Even in this time to remember our lost children, Max still remembered to celebrate life and to allow us to keep living.
After the dance, all of the families were encouraged to place ornaments representing their children on a special memorial tree. Many people brought special ornaments that they made at home with pictures of their kids. Keao and I weren’t as prepared so we instead used the ornaments the foundation provided.
Ornaments for Rory and Allison
Thank you Max and the Neves Foundation! We really appreciated your compassion and giving us a chance to remember and honor all of our children.