Can you believe tomorrow is your birthday? You would have been five years old. That is hard for me to believe.
I wanted to write you a letter today, because I know tomorrow will be crazy. We will celebrate the big day with Ann Catherine. She is so excited about turning five!
Oh Melissa, I wish so badly that you could know her. Don't get me wrong - I know you know her. I just wish you could spend each day next to her. She is such an amazing little girl. She has such a kind, compassionate heart. She talks about you often. She knows that she is a twin and that you are in Heaven. That's really all her five-year-old mind can process now. We continue to pray for wisdom that God will give us the answers to her questions. I know He will, as the time comes.
Lily Baker is just a trip. She is one of the funniest people I have ever known. I call her my rainbow, Melissa. After all of the sadness and pain surrounding your death, she was the rainbow that God sent to us to let us know it was going to be okay. She came after the storm and I don't know what I would have done without her.
In November, the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund will celebrate five years. Would you believe that we will hit the one million dollar mark in money raised this summer?! That's one million dollars in donations that have been used to purchase life-saving equipment and bereavement items for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children. Your daddy and I don't take one ounce of credit for this. It is all God. To be honest with you, your daddy wanted to start the fund soon after you died and I told him no. I just didn't think there was any way I could relive your death over and over. But, to his credit, he never let up and I eventually prayed and told God if this was His will for our lives, then He was going to have to take over and do it because I couldn't. And He has. Without Him, we wouldn't have been able to do any of this.
Melissa, we have met some of the most amazing people through our involvement with your fund. We have met parents who have also lost children, people we probably never would have known. We have met doctors and nurses, most of whom took care of you and your sister in the NICU. And we have met grateful NICU parents who have graciously jumped on board to help babies and their parents in our NICU. I am so in awe of all of these people and so grateful to them all for their help.
I miss you every minute of every day. If you had told me five years ago that one of my children would have died before me, I would not have believed it. Your death - and life - changed me profoundly. There was the Amy before you were born, and the Amy after. I will never be the same. When you took your last breath on June 1st, 2005, a part of me died too.
The amazing part is that all of me didn't die. Soon after your death, I felt as if I had. I cried constantly and didn't want to get out of bed. I couldn't imagine going back into the world. How in the world did people expect me to ever laugh again when my child, my own flesh and blood and my heart, wasn't here anymore? It just seemed so ridiculous.
But now I see my life, and I realize that we did survive. I do laugh, Melissa. I laugh at your crazy father, I laugh at AC and LB and I think "what a gift!" As we sang in church Sunday morning, I thanked God that our family was okay. I thanked Him that I could stand in church and sing, that I could see and feel his mercies and his love, and that I know, without a doubt, that your death wasn't meant to hurt us. In fact, I know that God had a greater plan.
It doesn't mean I miss you any less. And given the chance, I would want you right here with us. But I know that isn't possible. So all I know to do is keep living. I realized not long after you died that that was the greatest way I could carry on your legacy. If you could no longer be here - if you couldn't live - then it was up to me to live every day of my life to the fullest.
My eyes are filled with tears as I think of how much I miss you. I hope you know that and I hope you know that your daddy and I did everything humanly possible to keep you here with us. But it wasn't our call.
I also know you are so happy. And you are well and whole, something that probably wouldn't have happened for you here on this Earth. You are perfect.
And I know you are here with us. When you first died, I had this mental picture of Jesus holding you and rocking you. As Ann Catherine has grown, I have this new picture of you. On each of our special occasions, I have this picture of Jesus pulling up a chair for you so you can look down and share in our happiness. I think He'll do that for you tomorrow. Of course after your most amazing birthday party up there!
Being your mommy is one of my greatest joys I have ever experienced, and I thank God for choosing me. I will never forget the moments we spent together before you were born and I will never forget holding you as you passed from my arms into God's. I thank Him for allowing me to be there, because I know some mothers don't get that chance.
Happy Birthday, my sweet angel. And know that one day, I will be there to celebrate your birthday with you. Until then, please continue to watch over us and send your love to us. We feel it every day.
I love you more than you'll ever know,