To read the story of our precious Harlynn Renae, start here and follow the "next" links at the end of each post. Thank you for coming and sharing with us in this journey.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Family Tree

I drove down the long pathway to the infant's section in the cemetery. I parked and took those all-too-familiar steps to Harlynn's spot. I cleared some leaves from her marker, adjusted her little pinwheels, and I sat to spend time with her. 

I had a lot to tell her. As I fought off the mosquitoes and bees, determined not to let them influence my time visiting Harlynn, I stopped to glance around. The leaves are turning on the trees. They're falling to the ground. The grass is preparing itself for winter and cold. The deer were all around, grazing on what's left of the fresh morsels. Everything in the cemetery will be bare in a few months. Everything will be dry, brittle, and void of vibrancy.

But come spring....they'll all come back to life. Grass will green. Trees will sprout leaves. Flowers will bloom. Life will return.  Yet no one resting underground there will. 

It isn't fair. I don't suppose we've ever believed that life would be. But of all the unfair things....this.... this just isn't fair. 

I turned back to Harlynn's spot, tears in my eyes. Oh I wish love was enough to keep her. How I wish any amount of tears could bring her back. I begged her, as I do every visit, to come and see me - somehow, some way, show me who and how she is. Let me hear her voice. Let me see her adorable chin. Her bright eyes. I asked her a few favors. Told her a few secrets. Whispered a prayer.

As I walked back to the car, and startled the deer nearby, I saw a doe with two fawns. She wouldn't take her eyes off me as her babes grazed nearby. "I won't hurt them," I promised. "I envy you a little." She stood a little straighter, glanced at her fawn who had laid down behind her, then bowed her head a little in my direction. She was a proud, protective mama. We both were.

I don't know what the future has in store for us. Wherever this road takes us, and whatever lies ahead, however, will not be untouched by, or ignorant of Harlynn's influence. She is still a branch on our family tree. She will bear fruit for always.


  1. Your blog makes my heart dance and cry and melt all at once.
    The below link is all I know of my sister, Dara, who lived for four hours after birth in 1973 (unexpected death). My parents never talk about her. They never really have. My sister Natalie was 4 at the time, and she has a couple of memories, but she was not allowed to talk much about Dara, either. We visited her grave one time that I know of, and were surprised to find a headstone (my parents could not afford one - later someone bequeathed money to the cemetery to honor the graves of infants with headstones for those who had none). No one talked about her. In 1973, there were no blogs, no grief retreats, no way to publicly grieve. My parents were forever changed, and not in a good way. They learned to shove their grief down deep. To distance themselves from their children (emotionally absent). To not love too deeply. To not talk about sadness. It has been 40 years. FORTY YEARS since my sister was born, and my parents have not healed. When my beloved Grandma died this past month, my parents were distant. They did not cry. They loved her tons, but they did not publicly grieve. I got mad at them, and told them how to do it. How to grieve. Surely, they were doing it wrong. How can they have no emotion? Even for his own Mom's death? And then I realized. It was because of 1973. Because of Dara Lynn. Because they could not grieve then, and they never learned how. Like you, their life had to go on, for them and their four year old, but they had nothing to help them.

    I want you to know that, as hard as losing Harlynn is - and I have NO doubt it is worse than I could ever imagine - that you are doing this grief thing right. You are doing it. You are doing grief. You are looking for faith and answers and relying on God and looking for help and at the same time, you are helping so many others, through this blog and of course through Harlynn's Heart, too.

    I am really proud of you. I know you didn't want this family legacy. At all. I barely know you in person, but I treasure what I have learned from you. Your family is a blessing.

    Thank you!

    Jody Jordet

  2. Jody, your first sentence is how I feel this morning as I read my daughter's blog. I am so grateful for her blog but so sad for the subject matter. I cry, I bawl but I just can't seem to talk or think about Harlynn without tears. I hurt for my daughter and Brent but I know my pain still doesn't match what theirs is. I am grateful we have a God who understands each one's pain and can help us through any storm. I am grateful that Brent and Valerie know and rely on that God. Little Harlynn has impacted our family so. She's impacted complete stranges and will continue to do so. No, 40 yrs ago we didn't know how to grieve. Valerie, your writing is a gift and thank you Jody for sharing.