Seven days after my sudden death from an amniotic fluid embolism, I returned home from the hospital. As I tried to grasp what just happened to me, I couldn’t help but notice what my husband and children would have come home to had I not made it out of the hospital alive. A morbid thought, I know, but none-the-less, honest.
Doug and I bought a Build-a Bear for Brady on his first Christmas and recorded a good-night greeting Brady could play by touching the hand of the bear. Our voices say through the bear, “Momma loves you, daddy loves you. May your guardian angels watch over you, and may you have good night’s rest.” Shortly after returning home, I heard the bear go off and began to sob at the thought that if I was gone that would be the voice my children would hold on to throughout their life.
Each year on Brady’s birthday, I had written him a letter about what the past year was like, and I shared my pride for who he was becoming. I was comforted to know that had I passed, he would have had my written word to know how I felt for him and in those letters I share what I hoped for his future.
Days after being home, I sat in Ella’s newly decorated nursery where I had written these words in sticker letters, “Unrepeatable, Irreplaceable, Unique.” As I saw them, again, I found myself sobbing, wondering if I had passed, would she know what those words really meant.
These are just a few of the many things I began to notice of what I may have left behind. These moments inspired me to write my words down for Ella to let her know what I, her mother, a fellow woman, would want for her should anything ever happen to me again.
I want to share my letter with you as it is my hope for every child, really. I also hope it inspires you to write a letter to your children or the people who matter to you, letting them know your love and desires for them.
My Dear Gabriella,
I died during your birth and after the biggest fight for my life, God, working through the hands of doctors, saved my life. Coming back from death has reminded me to make sure there is nothing ever left unsaid to those you love. You are too young for me to tell you all the things I want you to know about Life, so I am writing this letter for you to have my words imprinted on paper for you to always be able to read.
Life is a gift; it is not something owed to us, but rather given to us. Cherish the gift of life, your life and the life of others.
If ever you question your purpose in life, remember that the moment you were born you were not breathing for three minutes, but because you were meant to make a difference in this world, the Lord breathed air into your lungs. Never doubt your purpose and always seek to live intentionally for heaven.
I did not meet you for two days after your birth and the memory of that is hazy. Not having clarity in that moment has taught me to always cherish every moment with the people you love because every moment is a gift. Every moment I have with you is a gift. Love your family and friends as if it is the last time you will ever see them. Say “I love you” as many times in a day as you can. Never let pride or anger stop you from saying those words.
When I look into your big blue eyes, I see the ocean of God’s mercy resting in them. Let your beautiful blue eyes be a reminder to you that God is always with you. He sees the good and the bad, and will chase you with his mercy to the ends of the earth to always bring you back to Him.
When you smile, you light up a room. Never lose that childlike joy. Be a light for the world to see and when the world sees you, let them see something more… let them see the light of Christ reflecting off your words, your silence and your actions.
Always be yourself. Dad and I will do our best to raise you to be holy and to seek heaven and we will propose the beautiful life God has created for you, but ultimately you must accept that proposal. You are unique and unrepeatable and completely irreplaceable. You may be tempted to dress, talk and act like others, but God made you a leader. Your very name means “heroine of God.” Know when to lead and know when to follow. Know when to speak and know when to be silent. Seek the freedom of good over the confines of evil. Seek the knowledge of scripture to learn what it means to be a “heroine of God.”
Remember, Christ died on a cross for you, to free you. Cling to Him, your Savior, in times of suffering and struggle, and when you do suffer, don’t let it go to waste. Offer it up as a prayer for those who need it. Embrace suffering as Christ did.
Some will reject you and despise you because of your faithfulness. Love them anyways. Love the weakest, the wisest and even the worst. Charity is how we show God’s love on this earth. Serve others in every way you can. You were born to serve and to offer yourself as a gift. That is love. Be joyful about the successes of others as you are about your own. Be selfless especially when you find it most difficult.
Love your family, love your family, love your family! I say that over and over because your family, next to God, is the most important priority. Choose your family over your friends. Let your family know your love for them every day. Pray with and for your family. Leave sarcasm out of the relationships you build with others and let them see your authentic feelings and emotions. Never be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve. Strength is being strong when you must and allowing yourself to be vulnerable at all other times. Never fear getting hurt. You will get hurt in life, but never let that stop you from loving with true emotion.
You may lose people in life. You almost lost me at your birth. Always trust in God’s plan even when you do not agree. Invite Jesus into difficult times and allow Him to show you His presence!
Seek the sacraments often. They will keep you strong. Pray in front of the Eucharist. Allow the Lord to speak to you in the silence of your heart. Go to Mass as often as you can. Mass will build your character and give you strength. Plan to go to reconciliation regularly. It will help you to stay on the right path.
Never be afraid to be great and to do big things. God has shown me that when you follow his plan, life is adventurous. Say “yes” to the Lord and let him lead you on the adventure of a lifetime!
My child, you are beautiful, but let your beauty shine from the inside out. It will not matter if you are a supper-model—if you are mean, angry and prideful, no one will see your beauty. Be authentic, loving, kind, humble and holy.
Let your lips always speak the truth regardless of the consequences. Let the way you dress express not who you are, but whose you are. You are a child of God, dress with that confidence. Speak truth boldly and think courageous thoughts and act in courageous ways. Pray daily for purity in your mind, body and soul. Let the Holy Spirit lead you especially when you are afraid.
Stay close to me, your earthly mother but stay even closer to Mary your heavenly mother. I can only show you a fraction of what she can show you. Life is short, and Dad and I will not always be around, but if you have God in the center of your life, He will be enough for you…enough to satisfy every longing of your heart. Let your daddy love you the best he can, but let your Heavenly Father pour His love and mercy upon you even more. When you are hungry for food, mom and dad will always feed you, but if you feel like something is missing or you feel empty, run t to the Lord to feed your soul. When people break your heart, or walk out of your life, when you feel abandoned and alone, know that God is ALWAYS enough for you. You may feel lonely at times, but you are NEVER alone. God is always with you, I will say it again, He is ALWAYS enough! In a world that looks so huge, and you wonder who notices you, God always notices you, is always fighting to be with you. Allow Him to love you.
And if there is anything I can stress the most– pray. Prayer is powerful and it saved our lives during your birth. Make everyday a conversation with God. Tell him your thoughts and feelings, but never forget to praise Him for whatever happens in your life, even the things you don’t understand.
You may think doing all the things I listed here is impossible, but I only ask you to try, to ask God to help you and to strive to be the woman God created you to be. You deserve the best that life has to offer!
I Love You!