Today is Cora’s 5th birthday. Today is the anniversary of her being born “sleeping”. Five years. How can it be that it feels so long ago yet I can remember the pain so acutely. I feel like I have lived several lifetimes since hearing the words “I’m sorry, we cannot find a heartbeat”. In these five years, I have experienced great sorrow and grief. Hopeless and anxiety filled days. I spent a long time wondering how I was going to live the rest of my life without a my daughter…what an overwhelming notion. I will have to live years and years without her. Experience so many things without her. I had to say goodbye not only to her but to what I had hoped for her. Life events and experiences I had dreamed up since hearing the words ‘it’s a girl!” on a voicemail 10 minutes before one of our dearest friend’s wedding. Teaching her volleyball, dancing it out to Kelly Clarkson, brushing her hair, and watching her grow into an incredible woman. But that is not our story. That is not how our lives are going to turn out. It has taken me longer than I would like to fully accept that, to push away bitterness or jealousy that would creep in, and accept that I would walk with this grief for the rest of my life.
On the bright side ( 😉 ), I have experienced immense joy and happiness within these last 5 years. We were blessed with two beautiful boys, Rowan Arthur and Gordon Truman. They are silly, loud, and love unconditionally. We traveled to new places to experience new cultures and delicious food. We volunteered our time to give back to those in need in our community – with an emphasis on the pregnancy and infant loss community. We picked ourselves up from our deepest grief and promised ourselves that we would find purpose after our loss. That we would experience life for Cora. I think (so far) we have made good on that promise.
Finding joy while experiencing grief is truly bizarre. There are times I have cried over both of our sons while rocking them to sleep just begging God to let me keep them only to smile with pure joy when they give one of those big dreamy smiles or coos a few minutes later. It is a feeling in the pit of my stomach to see a little girl that is Cora’s age playing with Rowan. It is listening to Rowan call the angel from our Little People Nativity set “Cora” and watching Gordon snuggle with her unicorn binky. It is a constant push and pull of emotions which I have grown accustomed to. It used to exhaust me but now I work to be grateful for these emotions. I work to show my sons that they can live with pain and joy. I work to show them that you can pick yourself up after a horrific tragedy and find so many good things in life. You can keep going.
We wanted to do something big to celebrate this milestone birthday. In a non-COVID-19 world, we wanted to host a bag-toss tournament to raise funds for One Wing Foundation but we do not feel that is responsible just yet. So, we have decided to sign-up for the 2021 BMW Dallas Half-Marathon to run in Cora’s honor and raise money for One Wing Foundation. I am almost certainly going to regret this (Paul is the runner…I’m more of a fast walker 😂). Our hope is by training for and running the half-marathon we will bring more awareness to the pregnancy and infant loss community.
Our goal is to raise $5,000 for Cora’s 5th birthday. $3,000 will go towards a Cuddle Cot to be donated to a local hospital. For those not familiar, a Cuddle Cot is an in-room cooling unit that is the size of a small humidifier that is disguised inside a bassinet or Moses basket. A Cuddle Cot gives families the gift of time. Time for the family to get to the hospital, time to make heartbreaking decisions about burials and funerals, and time to make as many memories as possible before saying their final goodbye. We would like the remaining $2,000+(we have stretch goals 🙂 !!) to go towards One Wing Foundation‘s grant program. OWF’s grant program’s priority is to give to as many organization as they can, while spreading the funds to various types of organizations and helping them to achieve their mission. In the past, OWF has given grants to organizations that provide grief counseling, care boxes, parent retreats, burial garments, and memorial items. These organizations are crucial to pregnancy and infant loss families.
If you would like to support Cora’s Kindness, please donate using this link. Any amount will go a long way towards reaching our goal! As with all online campaigns, we will reach more people if you share our story and our fundraiser. If you feel moved to share our campaign then we would be so grateful! If not, we are grateful you are here and have made it this far in this very long entry 😄.
I still find Cora in the light. I feel her when I sit in the warm sun. I hear her when the boys break out into giggle fits. I see her running with them around the backyard. I see good things happening in the world and I think of her. She is ever-present in our lives. She is our first born. She is our daughter. She is the reason we lead with courage and kindness. She is our reason we chose the light over the darkness.
Fly high baby girl. We love you, always.
Belief by Ann Thorp
I have to believe
That you still exist
That you still watch me
That you still love me
I have to believe
That life has meaning
That I am useful here
That I make small differences
I have to believe
That I need to stay here
For some time,
That all this teaches me
So that I can meet you again