Consider the Lilies

I haven't been sure if I was going to share this on my public blog or not. Ultimately, I decided that if it was an important lesson for me, it might be an important lesson for someone else, and so I should share it. Plus really, my sharing this story has to do with the point of the story, so.... my goodness, let's just get to it already.
Last year, I went to a lunch to see my friend Becky after her son had passed away. It was a tender time and a blessed day to finally get to hug my friend for whom I had grieved deeply for many weeks.

Many of Becky's friends were at this lunch, and many of those friends were mothers of children with special needs. It was a special day and a great opportunity to meet some amazing people and begin new friendships.

At one point, the doorbell rang and all the other moms were busy tending to their child's needs while Chloe was being cared for by someone else. So I ran to get the door. When I opened the door, I was filled with light. Never have I experienced so much light and brightness and love. I had no idea who this person was, but she just filled my soul with light. This probably sounds crazy, but it's true. She filled me up with light and I just wanted to be around her and learn from her. I knew she had a secret and I wanted in!

I learned her name was Erin. She and Becky had become friends when their children were in the ICU together at one point, and Erin's daughter Charlotte had ultimately passed away. She now had a beautiful toddler, an adopted baby girl and another girl on the way. Yes, a brand new baby and a baby on the way (to be named Lily). I also found out that the baby on the way had the same diagnosis that took Charlotte's life.

Erin spoke of her experiences at the lunch with sincere sadness, but also profound wisdom. After the lunch, I couldn't stop thinking of her -- the light that she had amid all the challenges she faced. I wanted to be more like her. I wanted to gain wisdom and share it. I wanted to find peace and teach others to have peace. I wanted my life to be filled with even a glimmer of the light that she had.

I began following her blog and anxiously awaited any news about baby Lily. The day she was born, I had Erin's blog up on my work computer, and would refresh the screen every 5 minutes or so in order to find out what was going on as soon as was possible. And from then on, I never missed a post. I just wanted as much of Erin and Lily's light to continue filling my life. I'm telling you, even through a blog, I continued to feel that light.

Unfortunately, Lily passed away one week ago.

Lily Elizabeth Hayes.

As I drove to the viewing, I began thinking of life in a pretty broad perspective. I thought of so many experiences that had prepared me or helped me to be Chloe's mom.... too many to name for now. One of those experiences that helped me was attending that lunch. I thought of all the people who had come into my life and taught lessons that I needed to know. I thought family and dear friends, but also new friends and people who maybe never became my friend, but touched my life in a short time. Again, too many to name right now, but this quote kept going through my mind....

"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore,

it is vital that we serve each other....

So often, our acts of service consist of simple encouragement or of giving mundane help with mundane tasks, but what glorious consequences can flow from mundane acts and from small but deliberate deeds!" ~Spencer W Kimball

I considered the sentiment of that quote a great deal. Mainly because the acts of other people have often been a testament to how aware God is of my needs. And I sincerely do not think the people who have been an instrument in God's hands to help me have ever been aware of it at the time. I've tried to let them know after the fact what an answer to prayers they were, but even then, I'm not sure how much they truly understand just how much I needed them to do exactly what they did at that moment to help me through something and to make me realize the depth of God's love for ME.

Erin is one of those people. She touched me in a deeply spiritual way just by showing up to that lunch. She was just herself. She didn't speak directly to me about her experiences. She didn't answer any of life's questions that had been weighing on my mind. She just showed up and was herself. That's it.

Is it possible, then, that just by going out and being with people and just sharing our experiences and being ourselves that we have the potential of having an incredible impact on the people we meet? Or the people we already know?

These questions were lingering in my mind when I arrived at the viewing.

Being able to see Lily for the first time, though I love and know her through Erin's blog, was so touching. What a beautiful baby she is.... pictures do not do justice. There were flowers, especially lilies, all around, and so many people there to support her family.

I always feel so awkward at viewings and funerals. I've never lost anyone close to me, other than grandparents when they were sick, and it was a blessing. So I'm never sure what to say. I've just learned that it's better to be there for them -- do things and say things, even if you act awkward or feel awkward, than to avoid the situation. So I did my best. I wanted to show my support and try in some tiny way to let Erin and her husband know how much Lily had blessed my life just by being. Even before she was born, Lily touched my life.

It was lovely, and I was glad I went. Lily's spirit filled me up with love and I felt that I might burst. As I was leaving, a lovely lady came up to me and asked if I was Tara. I said yes and instantly hugged her even though I had no idea who she was. I was just compelled to hug her and felt an immediate connection.

She explained that she was Erin's mom. She expressed gratitude for my coming to the viewing. She asked me to come sit with her, and of course I did.

She told me a story. She said that after Erin's first daughter, Charlotte, passed away, that she was out and about, feeling very sad and tender about Charlotte. She said that she saw a mother with a special needs child. She said she watched that mother and child and she felt the child's joy and love, and that just watching them brought her immense peace and joy as she thought of Charlotte. Erin and I met about a year after that and Erin's mom said that she recognized Chloe immediately when she saw her picture. She said that Chloe touched her so much that day and had helped her to feel closer to Charlotte. She said she wanted to come over and meet us at the time, but that her emotions were too tender.

I'm sure you can imagine that I had NO idea on that day that Chloe was touching someone's life. I was grateful to learn this because it felt as though in some small way Chloe had helped me repay this family who had given me so much.

I couldn't help but continue to think of the quote and the fact that our loving Heavenly Father helps us through the actions of other people. I know that so often, we don't know what to do to help others. Or we may think that we have to do something grandiose to make an impact. However, after so many experiences in my life, and especially after the story that Erin's mom shared with me, I am thoroughly convinced that our actions do not have to be grandiose in any way. I only have a vague recollection of the day Chloe touched Erin's mom. The only thing I really remember is that I didn't want to go. I remember feeling tired (probably because of Chloe's infamous inability to sleep) and I just wanted to stay home.

But. I went.

That's it. I showed up and because I showed up with my precious Chloe in tow, someone else was touched.

When Erin announced Lily's passing on her blog, she included the words to the hymn "Consider the Lilies."

He clothes the lilies of the field.
He feeds the birds in the sky.
And He will feed those who trust Him,
And guide them with His eye.

In my life, I've been blessed to see just how true those words are. And I'm grateful.

Addendum. Found these quotes after I published this and they went along with this post perfectly, so I had to add them....

Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else's life forever. ~Margaret Cho

Most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they've taught me. ~Scott Adams

“Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people's souls.” ~Melodie Beattie


Erin said...

Oh my goodness! I signed on ten minutes after you posted this to write to you and apologize for accidentally posting some card thing to kidz instead of my blog.(which I deleted but is still showing up in the reader...sorry!!!) but clearly I was meant to read this. I will be sure to have my mom read this. I very vaguely remeber her telling me this story. I am so glad she recognized you. I was surprised when my dad immediately knew you as well--clearly you have touched my family more than I even knew.
Thank you so much for this posting Tara. I was having trouble falling asleep (yes I go to bed quite early whenever I can) and feeling low. Sometimes we are there for each other just by showing up, and sometimes by signing on, I guess. I love you and it's crazy how much a part of my life you are even though I've only met you twice!! Thank you SO much for coming all the way to Lily's viewing, and for this, and for kidz and for the cards and everything you do. I would love to see sweet Chloe (and her neon pink smiley face earrings) again.

Jill said...

What a beautiful post! You do touch more people then you know Tara! Thank you!

Celine said...

What an amazing and touching post...
Thank you sharing this with us Tara.

Devon said...

This is absolutely beautiful, and so perfect. I really don't have any other words to express it. I think you are absolutely right--we don't know when or how we might be touching others, and I know I have been blessed in little ways by people who didn't even know they were doing so.

Thank you so much for sharing this. I am so glad you did and we will light our candle for Lily tonight.

Adriane said...

An amazing story; amazing post. Thank you for inspiring me today - you often do :)

Becky said...

(crying) I just love you to pieces. Thanks for being an that instrument in God's hands when others needed it. (me included)

Becky said...

an, that...I can't even see to type the tears are flowing. Sorry. You get the drift. :) xo

Mandy said...

Oh Tara I have been gone for so long!! I just have checked out of the blogging world except for my own. I am so glad I read this!! It was so beautiful and the spirit touched my heart!! You are such an amazing person and I feel so blessed to have met you! Thank you for being you!!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for deciding to make this post public. It's such a beautiful story. I literally had chills!

Looking for Blue Sky said...

That's the most moving post I've read in a long long time xx

Allison said...

Hi, my name is Allison and I am currently taking a class about special needs children. One of our assignments was to follow a blog for the semester and I chose to follow yours. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post! You touch many lives around you by sharing your inspiring thoughts. Chloe is so lucky to have a Mom like you. It seems like your friend Erin has been a huge inspiration in your life. I loved reading the story about her. I appreciate that the spirit has touched you so much and I don't know what Chloe would do without you!! :)