Elizabeth is from England but currently lives in Scotland while doing her doctorate. She just sent me pictures of…well, I’ll let her explain in the emails:
Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2009 9:50 AM
To: Glenda Thompson
Subject: Re: how are you?
....This afternoon, I'm going to the beach with Katrina (even though it's freezing!) [a friend who has worked with children-at-risk and lost one, as well], and we're going to put a rose into the sea as a sort of ritual to say goodbye to Gabriela. I wasn't sure about this at first, but I think it will be really helpful to do something from here that marks what's happened. I really couldn't have hoped to have had more support from the people around me - I'm so grateful.
Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 12:31 PM
To: Jennifer Thompson
Subject: Re: how are you?
That is amazing about the roses! [I had told Elizabeth that I chose a perfectly beautiful bunch of tiny pink roses for the burial day.]
I didn't even choose them, as such. The day after your mom emailed to tell me about Gabriela, my friend Tanja came round and spent the whole day with me. She brought me a bouquet of roses - red, yellow and orange. I chose a yellow one for our little ritual yesterday, because I looked up the meanings of the flowers and a yellow rose means friendship and joy. (Apparently there isn't a flower that has the meaning for the relationship between staff/volunteers and Casa babies - "not a parent but acting as if you're a parent and sharing that role with a dozen other people!" Nope - no flower for that one, so I thought friendship was the closest thing. And I liked that it meant joy as well.)
After I got your email about Gabi's roses I asked Tanja why she'd chosen the roses, and she replied that it was because they were so beautiful and delicate and colourful, so seemed to be the right ones. It's amazing to me how someone who never met Gabriela can choose flowers because they're "beautiful and delicate", and somehow know that that makes them the right ones!
Our little ritual by the sea was actually kind of funny in some ways. I hadn't thought through the practicalities of putting a flower in the North Sea in January! The sea was really wild, and the tide was in. At first, I put it on the beach, thinking the tide would come in and take it out, but it wasn't coming in far enough so I had to re-position it in a place on the other side of some rocks, where the water was deeper. And the whole time the waves would come crashing against the rocks, and we had to move backwards pretty fast on more than one occasion! Another thing I hadn't thought about was what would happen to the rose once it was in the water. I just imagined it disappearing, but of course in the sea that isn't what happened. It got pulled out to sea, and then the tide brought it back again, then it got pulled out, then brought back again. I was really touched by that because it seemed to symbolise, in a way I hadn't anticipated, what this whole process is like, because the hurt can sort of fade away for a little while, but then comes crashing back, then fades away again.... In fact, your mom wrote in her email that you all find you're going through "waves" of grief. Well, I got that shown to me in a literal way(!), and found it a helpful image. And it's good that, even though I can't visit a grave, I now have a place that sort of serves that purpose for me.
I was just looking at your update on Gabriel. I could imagine you just wanting to keep him with you all the time, and just hug him constantly! I think that's one of the things that's pulling me in that direction - just the need to hold the babies, especially Gabriel. But I'm actually doing pretty well on that front from here. Katrina, who came with me to the sea yesterday, has a 4 month old baby boy, Duncan, and they are very happy for me to hug him for hours on end! In fact, I had him with me during church this morning, as I cried my way through the service! The last time I had a little baby with me in church it was Gabriela.
Anyway, I should let you get on with cuddling whichever baby I'm sure you have!
There are lots of prayers coming from this direction for you and the staff.
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:45 PM
To: Jennifer Thompson
On Friday I went to visit Gabi's "Aberdeen goodbye place", where we put the rose. It was an odd thing, going to the beach in the snow! It was freezing cold, obviously, but I liked that that meant there was no one else around. I took some photos of the place with my phone (which is why they're not too good quality), and if you felt like seeing them, here they are! It is a wonderfully peaceful place...
Thank you, Tia Elizabeth!
Thanks also to volunteer Melanie who arrived just a couple days after the twins and also grew close to them, taking them around to doctors with me (and church), and all the other friends, visitors, former volunteers, and potential volunteers who have walked through this with us.
As an aside, I don't know how all this happened to fall on today, but: for the first time, I'm wearing what I wore the day Gabriela died, visitors arrived this morning from Texas (the last time was also January 23), the sky continues to cloud up and now it's very gloomy and cold out and will rain, Maria (social work assistant) chose today to work on some papers that we have to change to reflect Gabriela's passing. I'm also cleaning off my desk and her picture seems to turn up in every stack of paper...
I just got done working (although still want to review some sponsorship packets before bed) and have two things to report for prayer covering:
1) For the dear lady who arrived today with her 16 year old son--her sister-in-law passed away sometime last night. Now they are looking at their options on getting back to Texas quickly. Pray for comfort and wisdom for their family.
2) I was called out to CDA III tonight to check on baby Victoria (7 months). It's a toss up for me, if she has mosquito bites or chicken pox, or actually both. Due to some other factors that usually preclude chicken pox and a couple suspicious spots, I made the decision to go ahead and start her on acyclovir every 6 hours. Better safe than sorry, and it makes a huge difference when started ASAP. I really really really hope she does not have it though, and that the children there somehow escape the scourge!!