Sweet Sixteen

Every time she outgrew something I put it away. I knew that I wanted more kids but had no idea when that would be. Saving her clothes seemed like the logical thing to do at the time. As the years passed the bin of clothes became two bins, three, four and then five. They took up residence in her closet all labeled and ready to go for a little sibling someday. We sometimes would open up the bins together and I would share memories with her from each piece. It was a very special time for both of us. I remember, as her 7th birthday approached, feeling overwhelmed by the realization that my little girl was growing up. The bins full of her clothes were something I cherished in a new way. I remember feeling grateful I saved them all.

Just a month shy of her 7th birthday my sweet Anna went to Heaven. I found that sitting in her closet surrounded by her clothes brought my broken heart comfort. They were just things, but they all told a story, a story of when Anna walked this earth. I knew that one day I would have something made with all of Anna’s fabric but I wasn’t ready just yet.

When Alice arrived I went through the bins and found items I knew that Anna would want to share ~ her favorite hello kitty shirt, jackets (2T and 6), her favorite vest with flowers, bunny pjs, dresses (all sizes). Alice knew when she was wearing her sister’s clothes and would proclaim them as “special.” When she outgrew them they would go back into the labeled bins. This past Spring Alice, now 6 years old, outgrew Anna’s clothes and I knew that it was now time.

Years ago I found a woman on Instagram that made vintage heirloom quilts. Her business was named Vintage Giggle which I fell in love with immediately. There was something in the way she posted that made me take note that one day I would reach out to her about making a quilt for Anna.

Last Spring I contacted Rebecca and shared a bit of our story with her and my desire to have a quilt made for Anna’s 16th birthday in the Fall. Her reply back to me was beautiful and I knew immediately that she was the person that I could trust with Anna’s clothes. From our very first correspondence Rebecca has held space for me in a way that is hard to explain. She knew how hard it was going to be for me to box Anna’s clothes up and send them off. She new the weight that each piece held and she lovingly welcomed all of my emotions and helped me release them so that she could turn it all into something beautiful. In early June, accompanied by 4 books of photos of Anna living life, a letter and a few Love Rocks, I sent 4 boxes of Anna’s clothes to Rebecca and she received them with open arms and a warmed up sewing machine ready to create.

This morning I got up before everyone else to spend some alone time with my birthday girl ~ this has always been our birthday tradition since our first early morning together the day she arrived 16 years ago. This morning I opened my special package from Rebecca and sat in awe of how perfect it is. It is absolutely everything I hoped for and more and I plan on staying wrapped tightly in it for many years to come.

Dear Rebecca and Vintage Giggle Team,

There really are no words to describe the excitement, joy and sorrow I feel in mailing these boxes of clothes to you. I’ve held on to them for so long and I know that they are ready to be made into something beautiful. There has been such a push and pull on my heart as I’ve prepared them for their next journey. 

Each piece of clothing tells a story of a time when my daughter, Anna, walked this earth. She was and forever will be my person, the one who made me a mama and the one who has taught me the most about how to live life to its fullest. She was born on Nov. 13th, 2006 and from the start it was just the two of us. We figured out together how to be a family and had so much fun doing so. When she was 3 1/2 I met my husband and his kids and we blended our families. I will forever look back on our first 3 1/2 years as a blessing, we got alone time that I will cherish forever. Our big family of 6 was also a blessing and came at the right moment. Anna was the youngest and bonded with my husband’s youngest, Abigail ~  they were 5 years apart. They played, fought and created art together just like sisters do. We all bonded very quickly and life was good. 

My world was perfect until Oct. 20th of 2013 when Anna and Abigail were involved in a tragic accident and went to Heaven. Since that day I’ve been managing the ebbs and flows of grief by opening my heart to the many blessings that God has provided for me while in deep sorrow. On Mother’s Day in 2015 I found out that Alice, our youngest, was growing in my belly and she was born on Dec. 27th  (that is also Abigail’s birthday). Alice has filled all of the cracks and crevices of my broken heart with love and has grounded me to this earth. She looks just like her big sister Anna and over the past 6 years Alice has awoken a lot of memories for me that, without her, may have remained distant. First giggle, first words, first 5 steps (which happened to be on Anna’s 9th birthday), first pigtails, first braids…there are so many to name. This Dec. Alice will turn 7, an age Anna never reached here on earth.  

Over the past 8 1/2 years I have made choices in my grief to keep Anna close.  I’m not sure how I would survive without these choices. Anna’s 16th birthday is on Nov. 13 and I know that having you make a quilt out of her clothes will comfort my heart during this milestone.

I hope that as you look through the photos of my beautiful daughter you can feel the love and joy that she brought to those around her. She loved fiercely and made us all laugh. We called her our little monkey because there wasn’t anything Anna wouldn’t climb. She always sought out and cared for the youngest in our neighborhood and their wasn’t a baby doll that she didn’t care for and nurture ~ she called her bedroom “the nursery.” I am so blessed to still feel her even after 8 1/2 years of physically being apart. She is the gentle breeze that catches me off guard when I walk outside and she often calmly whispers, “I love you Mama,” when I feel that life is just a little too much to handle. We were cheek to cheek a lot and I can still feel her soft skin pressed against mine to this day. She taught me what true love is and there is no amount of distance that could ever break our bond. I am grateful for the time I got to hold her and I look forward to the moment I close my eyes here and open them on the other side of the veil. I can’t wait for that first hug from my girl ~ I will never let go! 

If you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to reach out. I have admired your quilts from afar for many years and I look forward to the day Anna’s quilt is at my doorstep waiting to be snuggled. I plan on wrapping myself in it for a very long time. 

Love and Joy, Susan

16 thoughts on “Sweet Sixteen

  1. So incredibly proud of you Susan. I am so happy you have this beautiful quilt to wrap around you with so much love.
    Love you so much.
    Mom

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  2. Tiny Buddha
    @tinybuddha
    ·
    “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” ~Jamie Anderson⠀

    I have followed you since the beginning. After reading Sweet 16, I thought of you.

    Carla

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  3. Thank you for continuing to share Anna and Abigail ‘s story with those who loved them from afar . Your words are magical and we can feel your love for both the girls – you are the best mama . I miss seeing you- but you are my ray of sunshine on this cloudy world.
    Love gayle

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  4. Susan, you and Anna are such beautiful souls!! I am always at such awe of your courage and faith, you both have encouraged me and gave me peace in my life, knowing no matter what life may bring, memories and heaven are always what we need to keep our focus on!! ❤❤❤

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  5. Unbelievable! I’m in awe at the depth of your love! You are such a beautiful soul, now with a beautiful quilt to be held close forever. Thank you for sharing your heart and your story with all of us. Much love!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan, this is just the most beautiful quilt and I love love love the idea. It makes me so happy and sad at the same time, in a way that however comforts. Can’t describe… when I saw the color run piece I couldn’t help and the tears just started to flow. Such sweet memories. Happy happiest 16th birthday in heaven, Anna, with all the milkshakes and balloons and joy. ❤️❤️❤️

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  7. Oh Susan that was beautiful! And what a wonderful idea to make this quilt! It is gorgeous and I can’t imagine the joy this has brought to you! I am sure you will cherish this forever! Would you be willing to send info on the quilt person? I also would love to do this with Chris’ things. We also saved everything and I would love to make a quilt for not only me but his sister Jen. Thanks so much for sharing❤️ Reading this helps me know I am not alone. Sending love!🥰

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