Monday I went up to Janie's Place.
Let me tell you a tiny bit of her story.
When I was in labor with her, my dear friend Shawna was with me. She stayed with me and basically took care of me through it all. Janie's labor and birth were such a strange and sad experience, and I remember how odd it was not to be hooked up to a fetal monitor during her labor. It cemented in my heart the fact that she did not have a heartbeat and that I would have a baby who was not alive. Shawna had gone through the same experience before me and she was a jewel, a gem, a Godsend.
Shawna had worked at the hospital prior to Jane's birth. She knew people. Little did I know how providential her friendship would be to us then.
Dave and I had never gone through such a terrible time before. We had never even buried someone who was close to us, and so, we had no idea what to do after Janie was born. We surely did not have thousands of dollars to buy a private plot for her and have a headstone engraved, and we didn't even know how to go about doing that either.
Unbeknowst to us at the time, she had been instrumental in facilitating a program, in partnership with our hospital, that built a place for moms to bury their stillborn babies and have their names engraved on a beautiful headstone in the middle of a local, gorgeous cemetery. The cost was very, very affordable for us.
We now had the small assurance, when Dave handed the tiny, still body of his daughter to the kind man outside our room, that we would have a place to remember her.
So, we went ahead and had a memorial service for Jane. Let me tell you, I will never forget seeing that tiny white casket there that day. I had hoped after that day that I would never, ever have to stand in that place again....
We started calling the place Janie's Place soon after she was buried there. It is one of the most peaceful places on earth to me. It sits on a high hill on the outskirts of our town and it is immaculately kept. There is a chapel there too in which we had Janie's service, and it is gorgeous. We feel fortunate and blessed to have a place like that in our town, so close to us.
We chose to bury Olivia there too, right next to her big sister. And yes, I found myself again standing in that very same chapel, staring at an identical white casket. And it was a very surreal experience this time, bringing Olivia's other half, her identical twin sister who was 10 days old at the time, to her funeral service. It was happening again.....
But the place where my babies are is so incredibly peaceful. When I went up there on Monday, as I drove up the winding lane toward Janie's Place, two young deer were grazing right there. I drove very slowly and as I parked, they walked a couple of paces away, but they didn't run or flee. They stayed there the whole time I was there, just quietly grazing on the lush, moist green grass. I even walked closer to them, to another place where another family's twins are sleeping, and they didn't even bat an eye.
I love that place. My husband's beloved maternal grandfather was laid to rest there 10 years ago this June. So it's a pretty special place.
If any Mama is reading this post and is currently going through the heart-wrenching, soul scarring journey of giving birth to a stillborn baby, I would encourage you to check with your hospital and find out if they offer the same type of service. It can be so calming to have a place in which to physically go to grieve your baby. It can be so healing to have a tangible place as a memorial.
And I get a semblance of peace as I run my fingers along my baby girls' names, etched deeply in that stone. The granite reflects the names etched so indelibely and so permanently on my heart.
Thank You Father for Janie's Place.