Sunday, October 31, 2010

Appreciation Tea

Well, my speech at the Appreciation Tea went well on Friday.  They had a nice turn out with about 50+ in attendance including the hospital CEO.  We brought one of our framed pictures of Harper with us and sat it on our table and got to show her off a bit. :)  I loved being able to talk about her even though I was in tears before I even began.   It felt great to be able to thank the people who volunteer their time and services to make memory boxes for people like me who expect to leave the hospital with a baby but don't.  Those boxes give us something to hold onto.

As I walked back to my chair after speaking I noticed most of the room in tears, wiping their eyes.  It filled me with such pride to know that Harper's story touched their hearts.  It felt wonderful to do good in her name.  I received a lot of hugs and thanks for being there and having the courage to speak.  One woman told me how brave I was and that she wouldn't have been able to stand up there and speak as I did.  I told her that it is easy to talk about someone you love so much.  Honestly, I wasn't really nervous (maybe a little)...just emotional.  I did it for my daughter.  I don't get to do much for her so I try and parent her in anyway I can.  I have to be her voice.  Harper has made me a stronger person even though I don't feel so strong at times.  I feel her pushing me.  I strive to be the person that she would want me to be - to honor her memory the best way that I can.

Here is my speech...

Good afternoon.  My name is Rhiannon Johnson and I wanted to speak today to share a little bit of the story of my loss and to take this opportunity to pay a very special thank you to the volunteers who provide their time and donations for the bereavement services at the Medical Center.  

I was admitted to the Medical Center in pre-term labor on my birthday. I was 6 months into my blissfully naive and uneventful pregnancy with my first child.  I had no idea that I would be getting discharged 9 days later without my daughter in my arms but instead with a broken heart, shattered dreams and a very special box that has turned out to be one of my most treasured possessions. 

My daughter, Harper, was born on June 25th at 4:39 in the afternoon. She was 1 lb 15 oz, 14 inches long and beautiful.  She had a head of red hair, big hands and her daddy's nose.  Harper was perfect and healthy in every way but she was born too soon.  

I did not come to the hospital that night prepared for what lay ahead of me.  Giving birth to my daughter, holding her in my arms and leaving the hospital without her was an incomprehensible thought.  It never occurred to me that she might die.  She was a strong girl, a fighter.  I just knew that if she came early that she would be one of the miracles. But we didn't get our miracle, she died and our world came crashing down.   I was in shock and very unprepared to say the least.  

I didn't bring any keepsakes with me to the hospital.  No receiving blankets to wrap my baby girl in, no pretty dress for her pictures, no camera.  I didn't know how much all of these things would come to mean to me in the coming days, weeks and months.  Thankfully, you all did.  

Thanks to your generous and heartfelt donations I have a box full of tangible memories of Harper's short life.  I have something to hold, something that she touched.  Keepsakes that are so dear to my heart and that have gotten me through a lot of dark days when I was so thankful to have something that was hers.  Something that acknowledged her short but meaningful life. 

The pain of losing her and all of the dreams we had for her has been unbearable and suffocating at times.  The grief can be paralyzing.  Your kind donations have meant more to me and my husband than I could ever put into words and my road to healing has started in part because of your kindness.  She had a moment in our arms, but will live on in our hearts for a lifetime.  Thank you.


Dana said...

Wow, your speech is beautiful. I can just imagine how someone who has worked hard on the memory boxes would feel after hearing you talk. It would give them a renewed sense of purpose and possibly the push to keep on preparing and donating the boxes.

I'm so glad that you got to show Harper's picture and share her story. She has touched so many lives. She is such a special little girl.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing your speech with us, Rhiannon. It moved me to tears. I'm glad you were able to share Harper's story with the people who took the time to give and to reach out to bereaved parents. <3

Olivia's Mom said...

What a wonderful speech, Rhiannon! I'm glad you were able to tell Harper's story, and let those who volunteer know how much they are appreciated. :)

Angela said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful speech. I am glad you were able to share Harper's story and pictures.

rebecca said...

Wow, what an incredibly beautiful tribute to Harper! I can see why there wasn't a dry eye in the crowd, just reading it brought me to tears! It also speaks volumes to the incredible, strong, amazing woman you are ((hugs))

Glo said...

Your speech has brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for being so brave.

Emmy said...

(wiping my eyes right now) I did something like this a few months after Leila died, and I was surprised how her story impacted those who had not experienced this loss for themselves. Thank you for being strong, for giving voice to your grief, and for sharing it with people who otherwise may never have known. You're a very brave girl, and I'm proud to call you friend!

Drew's Parents said...

I can understand why the audience was in tears. Your speech is beautiful. What you said about the tangible memories from the donations just melted my heart. It is so true...what having those mementos means to us. You are so incredibly strong. Thank you so much for sharing your speech. Sending you love! <3 <3 <3

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing. I can't imagine there was a dry eye in the place. Such a beautiful way to share your daughter's story.

Harper Grace's GiGi said...

What a wonderful speech sweetheart! You amazed me when u were born!
And you continue to do so! You are such a beautiful person inside & out! I'm so proud of you & love you very much!
All my love to you, chris & my sweet Harper!

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