Nine months. The gestation period for a baby is considered to be nine months although it is actually 40 weeks. Nevertheless, most of us think in terms of months instead of weeks.

For nine months, I carried you in my womb, nurturing you, praying for you to be healthy, and loving you every second of the day. In fact, I loved you and your brother before you two were even a twinkle in my eye. The excitement that your dad and I felt when you and your brother were born was indescribable. We were humbled by the miracle of birth and grateful that God trusted us to have two wonderful children to nurture and raise in a Christian home. From the time both of you were six weeks old, you were in church. Miss Emily loved you as her own and we knew that beginning with the love and care that you would get from Miss Emily, a strong foundation based on the love of God was being formed.

As time progressed, you and your brother became more and more involved in church. Mission friends, Youth group, mission trips to far-away places were all very important in helping you to learn about Jesus and how much He loved you and cared for you. As much as Dad and I loved and cared for you, you were taught that Jesus loved you so much that He died for you. What. A. Sacrifice. Yet, Dad and I would have willingly taken your places anytime you were hurting, sick, confused; whatever the problem was, we would do whatever we could to protect you and help you. Nothing was more important than the two of you. Nothing.

Fast forward and in the blink of an eye, you and your brother were suddenly adults. It seemed like only yesterday that you were born. Where did the time go? Had we done what we were supposed to do? Had we taught you right from wrong, to always respect other people and to be a friend to all? Had we taught you that your worth was not in what you had but in who you were? Looking back, I can think of the should ofs, could ofs and I know that we missed the mark at times. We did the best we could and our only focus was on you but was it enough?

In time, both of you married and to this day, I am convinced that they were handpicked by the Angels. You and Doug, Robert and Caitlin were a parent’s dream come true. God gave us two wonderful, beautiful children. God also put Doug and Caitlin in your lives and our family increased. We now had two daughters and two sons. How blessed we were! That blessing became even more glorious when our first grandchild was born. You were so happy when you held your nephew for the first time. You literally glowed. You loved him so much. It was obvious that you were going to be a wonderful mommy when the time was right.

That time never came, though. You became critically ill and for a week, we were not sure if you were going to survive. I never left your side the 15 days you were in ICU. Doug came everyday before and after work. Our church family prayed for you, loved you and rejoiced when you turned the corner and would soon be able to come home to your new home; the home that Doug had bought and furnished while you were so sick. It was a beautiful home and you immediately picked out a room that one day would be the nursery.

For three years, your health was on a roller coaster. Your immunity was low and you had to be very careful when around other people. The surgery on your foot was more intense than any of us had imagined and the outcome was less than ideal. So many more challenges along the way brought you down, and as good of an actress you tried to be, I knew you weren’t well. I tried, I begged, I cried for God to take your illness and pain away and give it to me. I pleaded as I was on my knees crying out to God. You never wanted to worry any of us and you were always “fine” even though I knew you weren’t. It was so hard watching our child suffer in silence yet you were an adult and married to a wonderful man. Stepping back was unfamiliar territory for me but I had to; at least that was what I was told.

December 14, 2015 was the day that all of our lives would be changed forever. On that day, you were admitted to the hospital for what we thought was dehydration and assumed that in a couple of days, you would be better. I called you early on the 15th and you didn’t answer. Shortly after that, Doug called us and told us to come right away. By the time we arrived, you were semi comatose. Doug said that you had a seizure earlier that morning. You woke up only long enough to say a few words and to mouth the words, “love you”. That was the last time we heard your sweet voice. In a matter of 24 hours you went from being a medical patient to a hospice patient. In a matter of 24 hours, all of us who loved you would surround you with love, hugs, kisses, songs, prayers and so much more. Friends from church stayed with us in your room so we wouldn’t be alone. Food was brought in, people we hardly knew would stop by just to tell us that they were praying for you. Hugs from others were freely given and appreciated. Sweet Claudia sang “Daddy’s Little Girl” and that was the last song you heard before the Angels came for you. Rusty and Tiffany visited everyday and I’m sure they would meet each other in the road. We needed them and they knew that. We needed reassurance even though our faith was strong. We needed arms wrapped around us telling us it was okay to cry. Your cousins sat vigil with us the night before you became an angel. They sang your favorite songs, one which I am certain you heard because you started moving your hand to the rhythm while holding tightly to the comfort cross that Christy from Hospice had given you. Your cousins told their favorite stories of you, relived some of our days of 30+ family members at the beach in the same house. The memories were precious. The memories were what we needed to hear. You were loved. You were loved so much by everyone. As much as you were and are still loved, you are missed even more. Time does not heal. There is a piece of my heart that is in heaven with you. We will never “get over it”. To lose a child is the worst thing imaginable. To try to live a normal life after the loss of a child is practically impossible though we try our hardest.

Nine months were required for you to be born.

Nine months ago today you became an angel.

We love you and miss you more than words can express. We will see you again, of that I am certain. In the meantime, continue being our guardian angel. We need you.

I love you more than life itself and miss you even more.