Coming Full Circle: The Countdown to Minnesota
Today I booked a plane ticket to Minnesota to present I Love You Still: A Memorial Baby Book to its inspiration, my dear friend Ann, exactly one year after a conversation of ours urged me to start the project.
On April 5, 2016, Ann revealed to me that she had lost her daughter, Riley, the previous Christmas. As a friend and fellow mom, I felt a need to show my support for what she was going through. That evening, after the kids were asleep and the dishes from dinner were (somewhat) cleaned up, I started searching the web for memorial baby books. I searched for well over an hour. After some scrolling and re-tooling of the key words, frustrated, I gave up.
The book I had hoped to find didn't seem to exist. Nevertheless, I continued searching for a way to lighten Ann's load. Ultimately, I chose to make a donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities in Riley's name. In doing so, I hoped Ann would find comfort knowing that her daughter had a positive impact in the lives of families with children battling serious illnesses.
But that wasn't the end of it. For months, that empty search result stuck with me. What if I were the one suffering a loss, and felt there was nothing out there for me (or my child)? Why are these mothers forced to simply use blank journals to document their experiences, or baby books with entire chapters that don't apply? I couldn't wait any longer for the solution to present itself.
In November 2016, I put pen to paper and gave the project a name. The months that followed involved cramming as much creative, educational, and legal work as possible into one to two days per week. Steadily and deliberately, the book took shape.
Through my research for I Love You Still: A Memorial Baby Book, I discovered a tremendous network of resources for mothers who've suffered a loss, each of which share a common belief: It doesn't matter which path you choose to get through this difficult time, as long as you feel there's hope and know that you're not alone.
This project has, at times, been daunting—but no work in my life has been more rewarding. It is my sincerest hope that I Love You Still will provide mothers like my friend Ann with some much-needed solace and fitting place for their child's memory. And, with any luck, my dear friend will find some comfort in the book as well.
I'll be seeing you soon, Ann.