Celebrating LIfe

One of the things my dear friend Jane and her husband have taught Matthew and I is the importance of celebrating.  

Celebrating milestones.  Celebrating the good.  Celebrating through the bad, creating a better life though positivity.  It is why Matthew and I did things we never did before after Ava died, from adventures to roller coasters, we were going to LIVE.  We wanted to celebrate everything we could, live every moment we could.  It was a way of coping with our grief and of including Ava in our everyday lives.  
When our sweet Lily-bean was born we had to find a way to celebrate her.  A way to celebrate the accomplishment of bringing her safely into the world.  A way of thanking our entire village of supporters and loved ones for their constant love, support, encouragement, sense of humour and let’s face it, shenanigans, to get us through an incredibly difficult 9 months. It only seemed fitting we turn to the man that married us and whom that helped us celebrate Ava’s life, W.  It was with his guidance and love we put together a non denominational service that would celebrate our girl, anoint Jane and her husband as Godparents and surround our girl with love.  
One of the most poignant moments of the service for me was a manifesto created especially for her.  Each of our family and friends were asked to, to the best of their ability, model and teach the following values for Lillian.  Generosity, Love, Wisdom, Self Control, Respect, Acceptance, Honesty, Loyalty, Compassion, Simplicity, Faith, Passion, Patience, Authenticity, Kindness and Hard work.  Each person signed the manifesto and it hangs on her bedroom wall.  She will be able to see all those that celebrated her and their promise to help her and guide her through her life.  
We had about 30 people in attendance, though obviously I am only posting photos of those I have their permission.  

My parents, Matthew, Lillian and I

Lillian looking up at her God Mama (Excuse the hat it was sunny)

During an anointment with oil.  Lily just wanted to play with the paper I am holding

My parents and sister

Including Ava

Lillian is wearing the same gown her God sister wore.  We are Jane’s daughter’s Godparents and this is the same gown.
One of the biggest thrills of the day was the fact my friend Ruth could come.  She was our wedding photographer and she also did Lillian’s newborn photos.  Thank you HRM Photography (All photo credits www.hrmphotography.com) for these incredible shots.  More importantly, I loved your company and spending time with you and your beautiful family.  
That night, as I went to bed I said to Matthew that she felt real suddenly.  With Ava we had a beautiful shower and it was, without a doubt, one of the happiest days of my life.  She died a mere 2 days later.  To me, her shower has always felt like her birth.  It was our loved ones celebrating our daughter.  I did not get to see everyone meet Ava because of the coma, so her shower became her birth in my mind.  Somehow, Lillian’s life celebration was her birth to me.  The same people, gathered in the same place to celebrate our second daughter.  It was freeing.  A happy, joyous, free day.  To celebrate life and our Lillian.