This week, my niece, Vivian Sue Hammer, would have been nine.
It was nine years ago on Friday when my mom, dad, Ty and I jumped into the car and drove as fast as we could to get to Des Moines, Iowa because Vivian was making her five-weeks-earlier-than-anticipated arrival into the world. We knew that she had a heart problem, we had learned that in January, so we wanted to make sure we were there when she was born. When we left a day or so later, she was doing well and we were thinking she would be having heart surgery to correct the hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
And then Stephanie called and our world shifted on its axis.
She also had a diaphragmatic hernia which caused her lungs to not have fully developed and the surgery couldn’t happen. We were going to have to let her go.
So back to Iowa we went, the whole family in tow, to spend what little time we had with my Viv.
I will never forget reading to her with Stephanie.
I will never forget getting to love and snuggle on her all by myself.
I will never forget singing to her and talking to her.
And I will never forget saying goodbye to her.
I will never forget walking out of the hospital and watching my sister collapse with grief that she wasn’t carrying her baby girl out of the hospital with her.
Ty was just over six months old. I was still nursing him. And I will never forget having to walk with my sister through trying to get her milk to dry up because she wasn’t nursing her baby girl.
I will never forget making scrapbook pages with the hundreds of pictures that we took in her short six days on this earth.
I will never forget singing “Glory Baby” at her memorial service. (And Stephanie will never let me forget falling down the stairs of the platform after singing.)
I will never forget the countless phone calls where Steph and I just cried together without saying a word.
And I will never forget how in the midst of her own grief, she has been able to cry with and hold many other mothers who have lost children in the past nine years.
God is faithful, even in the midst of tragedy, and here we all are, nine years later, still missing our Vivian Sue, but even more dependent on our God who has seen us through.
Aunt Chrisy loves you, my sweet Viv, and I will see you again one day!