Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pretty Much Sums It All Up

Here is an email my mother wrote to her friends and colleagues after Rip died, it makes me sad right now but I know one day I will be glad I kept it...

Hey Best Girl in the World,
I haven't sent this to you before because I don't want in any way to make this awful time harder for you. I wrote this originally to send out to my work people, but since that time others have sent it on to church, etc. It has helped me not to have to go over details or ask a lot of questions. You can use parts or none of it, and remember it was sent from my so much less important than yours perspective. I love you so much more than you can imagine and want you to do whatever possible to get through this as easily as you can so if it would help, send something and if not, don't.
I'll talk to you later,

Dear friends,
As most of you know by now, my family lost our much beloved and anticipated baby last week when he contracted a bacterial infection one week after his birth on November 11. While we are heartbroken at the loss, so many of you have been a part of this journey with me and I wanted to share our story with you here in the way that real friends do.
Anne is my oldest daughter, and her pregnancy was a hard one, including hospital bed rest for 5 weeks before the planned date for delivery. She passed that time with a happy determination to do whatever it took to get her son here. Many of you sent gifts to help entertain her and I spent many hours there describing you all to her and telling her so many stories of our working together that she felt like she knew you. It was a happy time for us even in the middle of a stressful situation. When the big day was finally here, we went down to Charleston on Wednesday, Nov 10 to be there when the baby was born on Nov 11 at 7:30 am.
We literally jumped up and down outside of the operating room when we heard his first cries. He was perfect- a combination of both his mother and father, although of course I will tell you here that I did think he looked more like "our" side.
We celebrated his arrival in the same way most families do, with lots of tears and joy and photos to record it all. I left on Saturday to come back to Greenville, planning to return later in the next week when they both came home from the hospital to stay.
On Sunday afternoon I got a call from Anne that the baby had begun to run a fever and would be transferred from the current hospital to MUSC which has state of the art facililities for premature babies. I immediately headed back to join them and will never regret making the decision to be there.
Leaving Greenville, we could have never guessed how the week would unfold, or that by Saturday we would be attending a service honoring the short life of John Robert Harris. ( As the minister said at the church that day, those who knew him well called him "Rip".)
Like all of you, I have devoted the majority of my life protecting my children from harm, and I am nothing if not a woman who likes to be in control of every situation. So when we were told the diagnosis and that we would soon be given our baby so that Anne and Parke could hold him while he took his last breath, it was unbearable to think of seeing my child suffer in this way. Part of my writing this down for you is to tell you this: When I faced the darkest hour and had no sufficient strength of my own, God was there. He held us when nothing else could. I know it as sure as I am writing this. His Grace was sufficient, just like we've always heard. Never doubt that it is true.
As for me and my family, we are heartbroken but determined to heal and life will go on-- just as it should.
People have assured me that crying is a necessary thing in these situations, but I have to say I think it is highly overrated. I have cried so many tears sometimes I think I will get dehydrated, and I am pretty sure some people have begun to avoid walking my way for fear of setting off another round of tears.This grieving stuff is hard work, but every day gets a little better and there is so much hope in the future.
So many people keep asking how they can help and I have really tried to pay attention to the things that do, mainly so that I can help someone else one day.This week has been a horrible nightmare in many ways, but I wouldn't have missed a minute of being there. When I think of the sweetest moments, it is the doctor who cried when he gave us the diagnosis, the man in the hospital waiting room who gave me his blanket in the middle of the night, the friends and family who came to be with us at a time when it would have been so much more comfortable for them to stay away.
So what can you do for me?You can be the one who sheds a tear for someone else's pain. You can be the one who gives up your own comfort to comfort a stranger. People need other people-- you can be the one to go along side them even when you don't know what to say.
When I think of our baby, it will always be with love at the perfect gift he was, and awe at how one tiny 5lb 4oz little boy changed my life forever in only one week. I know God has a purpose for each life, and some people live for a long time without ever making a difference to others. It is my hope that maybe in your journey with me as friends Rip Harris can make a difference in yours.
Thank you so very much for your friendship, kindness, prayers and support. They all mean more than you can ever imagine.


  1. Anne,
    You don't know me, but your mother and I have a mutual friend who sent me your blog address. I am soo very sorry for the loss of your precious son. It is the most cruel and heartwrenching loss that you never fully recover from. I know because I lost my sweet boy just over 4 years ago, he was 17 weeks old. My heart truly aches for you because I know where you are right now in your grief process. There is no solutions, no right or wrong ways of doing grief. It consumes you and leads you down paths that you never thought you would travel. To say time heals is a bunch of baloney, time will never heal our hearts. What time has done for me is find a way to get through each day knowing I won't fall down, knowing that God's plan, that I still don't understand, was better than what I had planned, learning to talk about Walker with a smile on my face and in my heart without completely losing it every time, knowing that some day I will see my perfect boy again. Time does not heal the hole left in your heart, you will have it forever. Time does give you the chance to learn how live with that hole.
    I will pray for peace for you and your family. Lean hard on each other and take what you can from those that offer. Don't feel guilty for crying all the time or avoiding situations that will be painful. Life goes on around you during grieving, but one day you will wake up and decide you feel like participating.
    Feel free to contact me if you want, whether it is next week or next year.
    Dani Smith

  2. Very beautiful and powerful!

  3. Pawleys Island Posh sent me to your blog. I had an miscarriage this past Oct. and I recently have been able to publicly speak about it (friends-online-work..etc). I am starting to realize I need to grieve and speak about it. Reading your blog has provided me comfort and as I read this letter your Mom wrote I am so touched by the words... I keep reading more of your blog and the tears just keep coming.

    This past May I was one to discover my friends son unconscious in the pool. He died later that evening after being rushed to the hospital. That day forever changed me and my husband..I still have nightmares of that day. Than this Oct I lost my unborn child. I can honestly say you don't know how strong you are until God shows you when you need to be. I agree with your statement of surprise of what we can survive. Thank you for writing this blog.

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