Guest post by Hannah Rose Allen
My Aunt Rachel would have been turning 48 today, if she were alive. She has always been very special to me, but even more so since having and losing my own daughter, Lily. Rachel was the youngest of seven children and sadly only lived for three months. She died on the operating table as her doctor attempted to save her tiny, deformed heart.
Obviously, I never knew her personally and only know her through photos and stories from my grandmother and mother. My mom is the eldest of the seven, so she probably remembers the most. I have read in her journal from the summer she turned 9 all about her sweet little sister Rachel, who came and went all in the blink of an eye.
As I write these words, my eyes are welling up with tears as I think of a life that was, yet wasn’t. Rachel was perfectly real and the irreplaceable seventh child of Nancy Virginia and James Kirk (my grandparents). Even back in those days when babyloss was much more of a private topic than it is today, my grandmother never stayed silent. When their relatives would talk of their “six” children, she would quickly correct them, saying they had SEVEN children. The little princess she never knew past nine months in the womb and three months out. Yet, Rachel will forever remain loved and missed, by those who met her and those who didn’t.
My grandmother still grieves her loss and continues to go to Compassionate Friends meetings to this day, all these decades later. I think now it’s more to support the newly bereaved. But, she still goes to the meetings and shares her story, Rachel’s story. She still goes to the yearly candlelight service and lights a candle for Rachel, and now for her great-granddaughter too. How can one family lose two babies in such a short amount of time? What’s so interesting is that I went with my grandmother to those meetings long before I lost my own child, when I was in my early teens. I wasn’t afraid of that type of loss, though others seemed to be. I see now how God was preparing me for the future only He could see.
Now my grandmother and I have a bond that nobody else in the family has. Not only are we bonded together as grandmother and granddaughter, but we are also marked as women who had to give their babies back to the very One who blessed us with them in the first place. It was so comforting to have my grandmother at Lily’s service and burial. She has continued to be a support on my journey of grief and loss. I know she understands me and what I am going through in a way others cannot.
All these years later, I am missing my Aunt Rachel. Yes, I always have and always will consider her and call her my aunt. I am wondering who she might’ve been. Would we have been close? How many more cousins might I have loved? I miss this beloved member of my family that I never got to meet, never got to know. Yet, I miss her and love her nonetheless. I miss all that her life could have held. All that her life would have brought to our lives.
So, today on her birthday, I remember, honor, love, and miss her. I miss what today might have been. I miss not knowing the love she would have given, in her own unique “aunt-way.” As I think of all my other aunts, I wonder how she might’ve differed from them. I am rejoicing that my aunt and my daughter are safe in the arms of Jesus and will be with Him forever, safe and sound.
One day, I will meet Rachel and tell her how her life affected mine, though the beginning of my life began decades after the ending of hers. It makes me smile to know that Lily’s “special spot” (where she’s buried) is right next to her Great-Aunt Rachel’s. Two little girls that bring this family so much joy. Even though they are gone, they’ll live in our hearts forever. Lily got to know Rachel before me and Rachel got to know Lily before me, but that’s okay. I am glad they have each other. What a sweet picture to think of Rachel Ross welcoming Lily Katherine HOME.
If you are reading this and have had some type of babyloss in your life and family somewhere down the line, I hope this post shows that this is something you never “get over.” You can go on to live a happy and fulfilled life, as my grandmother did after her loss, but she was forever changed. It just becomes a part of you. Also, if you feel like everyone is forgetting your baby, no matter how long ago your loss was, you never know how much your
child’s life has affected others and will continue to for generations. Be encouraged in that.
“All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” ~Helen Keller
Dear Aunt Rachel, I deeply love you and you are deeply a part of my life. You are etched into the fabric of our family and we all talk about you and think about you, especially on your birthday. I miss you. Whenever I go to visit Lily at the cemetery, I visit you and think of you too. I just want you to know you are never forgotten and I am so excited to know I will get to meet you one day. Love forever and for always, your niece, Hannah Rosey