I will not lie ~ there was much anxiety and stress and dread that filled the month of April, leading up to my Girl's 5th Birthday. I certainly just did not know what to expect. I found myself actually developing random maladies in reaction to my anxiety and my efforts to maintain my "controlled composure". This would be the first "celebration" of my daughter's birthday...without her...a dreadful milestone in this grief journey, for sure. But, Mark and I slowly and begrudgingly decided to start to make some plans. We knew that we did not want to reach this big day and have nothing planned...for that would be even more depressing. So, a May Day Event was born. And, once I had a mission I went into "Mommy party-planning mode", for I realized that I still wanted to throw my girl a party. And, so we did. And, a tradition was created. And, it was perfect.
Mark and I woke up on May 1st to a beautiful sunny morning and a lightness hit our spirits. We then just knew that it was supposed to be a happy day...for Vienne would have it no other way. And, so we smiled. How could we look out at the warm sun and the blooming spring and not smile? It was reviving to our wounded souls. The support around us is always astounding which further encouraged us that it was ok to have a good day. And we seriously could not have asked for a better day, a more abundant turn out, a more perfect event to honor the life of our Vienne Juliet.
As Mark stated it so eloquently on Facebook:
We are humbled. Humbled and amazed. Never could Jenny and I have imagined that Vienne's birthday would receive such widespread, enthusiastic support. We are gratefully swarmed with pictures and messages of wildflowers being planted all over the city, state, nation, and even a few world-wide locations!
I don't know what to say perhaps other than this: Jenny and I are unified in knowing that our precious One is enjoying new life with Jesus. She celebrates in ways that we can only dream of. One day, we will know this new life too.
Thank you. From the the bottom of our hearts, thank you for taking the time to share how you remember sweet Vienne.
Mark and I are taking new comfort in reminding each other that Vienne is still alive...she is alive with Jesus. This thought helps me when I start to dwell on her death and the fact that I cannot have her.
Now, I will share all of the photos from the event with you...
First, I will start with sharing photos from our gathering at Vienne's Park. We held a private Birthday Celebration in honor of Vienne and invited family and close friends to join us - those who were close to Vienne and/or have been a huge support system to us, through this. Our sister and family photographer, the infamous Kinsey, brought her camera and captured some very sweet memories for us.
Next, I am including photos we took at the beach that evening. After the park party Mark, Ivy, and I hopped in our car and drove straight to Cannon Beach, the town where Vienne was born, to dip our toes in the sand and grab a quick dinner at a restaurant overlooking our favorite piece of ocean.
Lastly, I am including ALL of the photos and stories that you, my family, and friends from all over shared with us in how they celebrated and remembered Vienne. My eyes are brimming with thankful tears and my heart is bursting with humble gratitude. We are speechless by the response that our amazing extraordinary wild flower of a Girl elicits in each of you!
*I am warning you that this will probably be one of the LONGEST blog posts I have composed yet, but I need to document each and every single thing that people shared with us. I want to always be able to look back on this and remember such sweet love for our Girl. Kinsey sent me 163 edited photos from what she captured at the park on Wednesday! I chose about half of those to share here and the rest I will upload to Facebook. So blessed by the absolutely beautiful and sentimental moments that she captured. We will treasure these always.
Vienne's 5th Birthday Remembrance at Northview Park
May 1, 2013
The seed packets I made, with an attached card, honoring Vienne.
the back of the card says:
Vienne Juliet ~ Alive, vibrant, and full of life
May 1st, May Day ~ A day symbolizing and celebrating new life
May's birthstone, an emerald ~ Represents life and vibrancy
Emerald green, Vienne's favorite color ~ The color of life
~Let us celebrate the New Life that Vienne now lives with the Keeper of Life, Jesus
(AKA ~ The Creator of dinosaurs)
"Death, I think, is really life,
The living, I'd call dead;
To leave this human, mortal strife
and in new paths be led.
Death, I think, is beautiful,
a new and happy home,
To live then with the Father
And away you'll never roam.
Death, I know, brings sorrow,
And often drops a tear;
Then you think your end has come,
But it's only life that's near."
~By Ted Hagstrom, age 10, passed away at age 13 in an auto accident.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life. She who believes in Me will live even if She dies."
(green dinosaur cookies)
(and I made chocolate cupcakes...green dinosaurs with purple polka dots on their backs! How perfect is that?)
(Toronado, Alice, and T-Rex had to make an appearance for the party, of course)
(balloons for our Birthday Girl...and obviously, I kept with the purple and green theme that she requested for her 4th birthday)
(it was a simple set up at Vienne's favorite park in Beaverton. Northview Park is a small private neighborhood park with a large expansive field area, with small trees encircling it's perimeter. It was a perfect place to have a party and to scatter seeds. And, for the first time in 5 years, Vienne had warm sun on her birthday.)
(Malachi at play)
(My mom and Natalie...Mom treasured these moments to play with a sweet 4 year old little girl. She stole many many hugs.)
(Mark's Dad, Grandpa Tom & Ivy)
(Our god-sons ~ these boys are so special to us)
(Lacey & Ivy ~ they like to give scrunchy-smiles)
(beautiful Miriam, my sister's daughter)
(me and Ivy with Andrea who has been a huge support through this)
(Me and Ivy with Jenna and Laurie, Kristel & her mom, Shirley.)
(I taught Jenna when she was in kindergarten 10 years ago! And, now she is our babysitter. Such a blessing to have maintained a friendship with her and her sweet Mama through all of these years. Vienne loved Jenna very very much.)
(Mark's sister, Christy, Mark, and their Dad, Tom)
(beautiful Mettie and her daughter, Hannah)
(our niece, Elliott, enjoying the treats)
(Kristel & Shirley scattering seeds)
(Jenna & Laurie scattering seeds)
(Natalie scattering seeds for her friend, Vienne)
(there were many hugs. My mom and Charlene)
(Manish, Brittany, and Lanie planting seeds for V)
(our sweet friend, Erin, giving Mark a hug)
(our Ivy girl)
(fun was had)
(Brooke and her two daughters, Natalie and Lily)
(My sister Katy and her husband, Jeremy, and daughter, Miriam)
(dear dear friends - Seth and Lacey. What a rare treasure it is that our best friends are married to each other, isn't it?)
(she is a cherished friend, always.)
(things always get goofy between Mark and Jeremy. I can tell that they are trying to give "T-Rex high fives". Oh my.)
(dressed in dino shirts for Vienne...of course)
(little Elijah - Kyle and Erin's youngest son)
(Asher and Elijah eating treats)
(Elliott planting seeds)
(My mom always loves to play with the girls...running across the field to find a spot to scatter seeds. There was family that was playing at the park, not part of our crowd, and the mom asked what we were all doing. When she found out, she asked if she and her children could join in. Of course, we were so blessed by their participation. Two of her girls are in this photo.)
(Katy & Miri)
(our Joy Bug)
(how can we not smile with this in our home, every day??)
(that gap-toothed scrunchy-faced grin gets me every time)
(father and daughter)
(she has her sister's eyes)
(this Daddy is in love with his girls...and they are in love with him)
(going out to plant the hydrangea for Vienne)
(we chose a nice shady spot at the far back end of the park, protected by two trees. We planted it with soil acidifier so that it will grow blue and we will return to care for it.)
(my hand probably might get slapped if I don't include at least one of these. ;) I get so shy when the camera is just on me.)
(Caleb came out to help us.)
(It was dear to us to have Vienne's best friend by our side, planting her flower for her)
(Sweet cousins - Ivy & Elliott)
(Sweet, loyal and supportive friends - Kristi and Lauren.)
(Lauren and her daughter, Lilly.)
(Uncle Donny getting some giggles out of Ivy)
(a family shot)
(friends. sisters for life)
(a true friend grabs your hand and says "walk with me"...to just be with you.)
(gestures like that immediately turn me into a puddle of tears.)
(remembering the tears that were shed in this photo brings them back, afresh.)
(Uncle Seth getting some baby love with Ivy)
(more dear friends, more dear tears - Erin & Lacey)
(Tearful, meaningful moments - Thanking Seth for a letter he wrote to Vienne for her birthday. It makes me weep when another daddy's heart is just so broken over our loss.)
(Soothing Erin knows how to gently swoop in for an emotional embrace, just at the right time. Another one of my dear soul sisters.)
(The Holbert Clan - more than friends, they are family to us. We seriously do not know what we would do without them in our lives.
Seth & Lacey and their boys, Caleb & Malachi. We love you.)
(The Hofseth Clan ~ Another one of those rare families that Mark and I, both, call dear. They are solid loyal friends whom we have always been able to count on. Kyle & Erin and their two boys, Asher & Elijah - our kindred spirits who live at the beach. We love you guys.)
I am just missing a family photo of my 3rd dearest and closest friend - Eileen and her family. Eileen & Jeff and their two daughters, Ella & Faith were in Maui at this time. I am sooo blessed to have Lacey, Erin, & Eileen in my life as my best girlfriends. Each one of them have stuck by my side and are each such unique blessings to my life. Actually, I must include acknowledgement and love for the rest of my dear dear girlfriends...those who I know I can call on ANYtime I need them. They are ALL loyal to the end and each of these ladies fills their own spot in my heart ~ My sister, Kate, My sister in law, Kinsey, My dear friend from childhood, Brooke, and My High School friend, Kristel. I love you all so much and thank you for being what you are to me. You are, each, irreplaceable. I have learned how rare it is, in my situation, to have such a strong and solid gathering of support.
You are treasured.
This next set of photos are from our quick jaunt to the beach on the evening of Vienne's birthday.
(We decided to park on Adam's Street - for this is a very special beach access point to us. One of the first houses Mark and I lived in, when newly married, was on this street...just 3 houses from this spot. We would grab a glass of wine and walk, barefoot, down the gravel road to sit and watch the sunset. It was heaven. Back when days were simple.)
(Ivy and T-Rex. Ivy's first time running on the beach!)
(...and it is NO surprise that she is a true beach girl! She LOVED it!)
(giving T-Rex kisses)
(kissing T-Rex together)
("I wanna go in there, Dadda!" - no she doesn't really speak yet, but we know what she's saying!)
(just like her sister...she was FEARLESS!)
(so much so that her pants were soaked and quickly came off!)
(She wanted to run in the waves again and again. She was like a wind up doll that never stopped!)
(she really likes giving T-Rex those kisses...and letting us kiss him too. How sweet is this?)
(there's that adorable scrunchy nose smile that we love)
(green toes in the sand for my Girl)
(baby toesies in the sand...I just love chubby baby toes)
(My beauty Baby playing in the sand for her Big Sister.)
These last photos are all that were submitted to us by friends, family, and blog readers who all joined in to celebrate the life of our precious Vienne Juliet!
Evergreen Community - our church
(Sarah, an elder at our church, made these beautiful tags and put these seed packets together to hand out at church, last Sunday. She emailed me these photos, sending us love and reminding us that we are not forgotten! We were moved to tears by this effort! Now, this is what a church community is all about. We could not thank you enough, Sarah and our Evergreen Community. This blessed us more than you know.)
My good friend, Lisa, & her 3 kids
(Lisa and her kids, Makayla, Hunter, & Ryder chose to scatter seeds in a park in Creswell, OR that "is completely devoid of flowers in hopes of bringing some color via Vienne!")
A Fountain Park Birthday Party for Vienne
(Brittani is a sweet mom who I have met at previous play groups only a handful of times. She has a beautiful daughter, Absidy, pictured in this photo, who fell in love with Vienne during those few play times. It was Absidy's idea to draw on balloons and "release them to Heaven for Vienne's birthday party with Jesus". Brittani decided to make an event out of it and invite local moms and kids to join in. She even brought cupcakes! I was so blown away and blessed by such a sweet outreach of love for our Girl!)
(Owen and Absidy)
(balloons with messages for Vienne, making their journey up to her party in Heaven. How sweet.)
(no better way than to finish with chocolate cupcakes, decorated in blue and green!
Thank you Abi and Brittani, Brittany Hill & Owen, Erin Cowen & crew, and Cassie Boyd and girls. This blessed my spirit!)
(a birthday song for Vienne. *tears*)
The Hernandez Family
Becky is our "adopted sister" - a friend who came into our family long ago and has lovingly taken the place as a "big sister" to me. She, along with her husband Isaac, and 3 boys planted seeds in 5 pots for Vienne's 5 years. We love you guys!)
(5 pots with sweet messages written around the rims.)
Our friends, The Kerns Family
(sweet friends of ours, Jeff and Molly, planted seeds with their 2 beautiful babies in a lovely park near their home in Yakima, WA.)
(look at Evangeline's beautiful skirt!)
(Paxon, the perfect garden gnome baby, wearing a dino sweater!! We LOVE you guys!!)
Our friend, Kelly, and her kids
(Kelly and her beautiful kids, Kylie, Skyler, & Justice dressed in blue and green, painted their faces, brought their swords and dinosaurs, and went on a covert mission to scatter wildflower seeds for Vienne! I LOVE the effort they put into it. All of the intentional detail was so great! Thank you guys! We love you!)
Our Dear friends, the Atienzas
(Jeff and Eileen and their two girls, Ella and Faith, were in Maui this week so they chose a small quiet beach to go and celebrate our Girl.)
(tossing Hawaiian flowers into the ocean for Vienne)
(Ella drew this dinosaur for Vienne)
(She also drew Vienne this birthday cake. The next day, May 2, was Ella's 4th birthday. Two sweet friends with birthdays just a day apart
(Releasing blue and green balloons up to Heaven for Vienne)
(Jeff, Ella & Faith building sandcastles for Vienne.
Love you guys so much. Can't thank you enough. This is so special)
Catherin, a devoted blog reader, and her preschool class!
(Catherin runs a preschool in her home and has told her students stories about Vienne, over these past months. They enthusiastically threw Vienne a sweet Birthday Party in their class this week! How sweet is this?!)
Our church friends, the Hyatt family
(Josie planting seeds in their yard for Vienne)
(Janie releasing a balloon for Vienne)
Our friend, Holly, and her kids
(Brayden, Amanda, and Gavin excitedly scattered seeds across their yard in Washington for Vienne)
My sweet friend, Chelsea, and two of her boys
(Alek and Ian scattered seeds on their favorite sledding hill, up in Alaska, for Vienne!)
(Brrr...snow. Chels told me that they will scatter more seeds when the last of the frost has passed. ;))
Our church friends, the Bagby family
(Dustin, Kelli, Gram, & Owen scattered seeds for Vienne near their home in Portland)
Church Friends - Sarah Euteneier and her daughter, Sophie
(Sophie wore blue and green and planted wildflower seeds, thinking of Vienne. Sophie and V used to play in church together.)
Our friends, the Millers
(Erin, along with her 3 littles - Dutch, Grayson, & Liliana - all scattered seeds for Vienne in Cannon Beach, Vienne's first home. This meant so much. Thank you guys!! xoxo)
The Standishes - friends from church
(Katie and Evie planting seeds in the evening light)
Kristel & Lucy ~ a follower of my blog!
(Kristel emailed me these darling photos of her daughter Lucy scattering seeds for Vienne in Lake Stevens, WA. This was so sweet to my heart. Thank you, Kristel!)
Cassie and her daughters - a follower of my blog!
(Madison and Alexis joined in on the balloon party that I wrote about above, as well as planted seeds in their backyard. Thank you, Cassie. This was so very special to me.)
Our friends, The Kamphuis Family
(Shelley and her sons made these darling planters for May Day and in remembrance of Vienne and delivered them to each of their neighbors! What a lovely idea!)
Our coastal friends, The Duff Family
(Joy and her two oldest kiddos, Nora and Owen, scattered seeds out in Seaside. This meant so much to me.)
Haylee & Finn - a follower of my blog!
(Finn and his mommy, Haylee, made this birthday sign and planted seeds for Vienne. Haylee took the thoughtful time to take these pics and email them to me. It is so amazing to me to receive these emails from people I haven't even met!)
(they made this heart around the seeds they scattered. So sweet.)
Ana, Samantha, Nina, Savannah, & Anne Marie (?)
(this darling photo was posted on Facebook of these sweet ladies taking the time to scatter seeds for Vienne! These are some of Kinsey's dearest friends, whom I have never met. This was so so very sweet to me. *I hope I got the names right - they were the names tagged in the photo. ;))
Uncle Paul and Aunt Gerri Weagraff
(Mark's Uncle Paul and Aunt Gerri joined in, all the way over in Delaware! How special is this?)
Uncle Steve & Aunt Anne
(Mark's Aunt Anne and Uncle Steve also joined in, from Virginia, in planting for Vienne)
Jodi Stilp & her pup, Dusty
(Jodi is one of my mom's friends and has committed to praying for me and encouraging me. She lives out in the country and found some beautiful spots in her yard that needed some love.)
A friend of a friend ~ Anne Overton & her girls
(Anne and her darling daughters, Clara & Maggie, planted seeds at Esther Short Park in Vancouver, WA)
My friend, Lauren Darnell & Family
(after joining us at the park on Vienne's birthday, Lauren sent me this photo of a blue hydrangea that she potted, along with the purple pansies that bloomed back up this year...the same exact ones her girls took home from Vienne's 4th birthday party, last year.)
Mark's coworker, Adam Vandehey and Family
(Adam & Trudie were holding their own family birthday party the Sunday following V's bday, so they decided to honor Vienne in their celebrating. They chose to plant flowers around a special wishing well that is in their yard as a memorial for Trudie's grandfather who had passed. I have never even met this family. So sweet to us.)
Our coastal friends - The Fargos
(Ok. This was one that gave me tears. If you are close to me, then you will recognize the corner of this home! That is Hillary sprinkling seeds in the garden bed of our old house in Cannon Beach! Jason and Hillary live down the street from our old house. They chose to scatter seeds from our old home - which is vacant and for sale - and on down the path that we would walk all the way to their bakery, Waves of Grain. This gets me choked up. I will add one more coincidental piece of info to this sentimental sprinkling of seeds. Little did Jason and Hillary know - but they are scattering seeds over the exact spot where we planted Vienne's placenta. As you know, she was birthed at home and so we chose to plant her placenta to give the garden extra enriching nutrients. Then, if you have been a reader of this blog, you will also know that my recent tattoo is inspired from the unique Tree of Life veins that sprawled across Vienne's placenta...the life force that kept her nourished in my womb. And now it will nourish the wildflower seeds that were scattered in her honor, on her Birthday! It gives me goosebumps.)
(this is part of the walk from our old home down to the beach and down to the Fargo's bakery.)
(the side of their bakery where more seeds were scattered. This meant sooo much to me and Mark!)
(Yes. Yes, I guess I suppose she is...the Most beautiful and rare and extraordinary Wildflower that ever was!)
I also want to sincerely thank everyone else who participated and were not able to post pictures. A HUGE warm and humble Thank you to:
Dan, Becky, Luke, & Ellie Piscitelli
Jeff & Jean Carlsen
Kristen - a reader from my blog
Anne - a reader
Andrea - a reader
Rebecca - a reader
Bethany - a reader
Kelley Reis and Rada
Anne Menke and the LEAD group at Solid Rock
Suzi, from Mark's work
Pam Romero and Ryan
My Dad, Ken
Mark's Mom, Lynn
Alli and Mike Harvie
Karen Wegner & family
Cori and Sarah Streeter
Adam & Andrea Carlsen
Kevin, Joanna, Abigail, Audrey, & Jack Magee
Robert & Eirin Hamilton
Keith, Krissi, Natalie, & Madilyn Callahan
Genice Normand and Girls
Barb Trachsel Bullock
Mary Kay Taylor
Trista Hager & Family
Karen Macomb & family
Brynn Black & family
Caroline Skaug & Family
Austin from Evergreen
Rob & Katrina Grant
Aaron & Rhonda McNally
Norm & Sheri Matheis
Adam & Trudie Vandehey
Ryan & Corrine Wills
Tom & Tina Lips
Nic & Laurel Sferrazza
Mark's many Beaverton Chamber of Commerce friends
And, if I forgot or missed anyone else, please know how deeply touched we have been by ALL of your selfless involvement. This turned out to be MUCH larger than we ever expected.
Much love and blessings to you.