I wanted Charlotte's memorial to be sweet and hopeful. These are not words that I would normally associate with a memorial before this journey, but I suppose I never associated a memorial with a baby before either. I turned to children's books, quotes, and poems to build something that I felt managed to embody that sweetness and hope. Here are the readings that we included in Charlotte's memorial:
A Native American Prayer:
I give you this one thought to keep: I am with you still - I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush, I am the sweet uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not think of me as gone; I am with you still in each new dawn.
A Personal Message from the family:
Ian married into a family of rock collectors. But they don't collect gems or fancy stones, just memories of the places they’ve gone and memories of the people that they were with. Jack is the prime collector. Every load of laundry includes pockets full of river stones, gravel, and pebbles from adventures with grandma or best friends. I know that Jack would have taught this art to his little sister, Charlotte. From now on, their family will remember Charlotte on each hike by choosing one of our collected stones to be left behind. I’d like to invite you to do the same on your next journey. This riverstone is for you to remember Charlotte and anyone who you have lost far too soon.
An Excerpt from The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown:
Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.”
“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,”
said his mother, “I will become a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are.”
“If you become a mountain climber,” said the little bunny,
“I will be a crocus in a hidden garden.”
“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,”
said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.”
An Invitation to Participate in the Wave of Light:
Every year on the second Sunday in December, families and friends who have lost a child participate in a worldwide candle lighting to honor the memory of those children who were gone too soon. Hundreds of formal candle lighting events are held and thousands of informal candle lightings are conducted in homes as families gather in quiet remembrance of children who have died, but will never be forgotten. Starting in New Zealand, candles will be lit at 7 p.m. local time. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lit in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light as the observance continues around the world. Today, we will share the flame from Charlotte’s candle. This evening, please re-light this candle at 7pm to help us remember the nine months that we knew Charlotte and celebrate the forever that we will love her. (We then led guests in lighting their candles from Charlotte’s pink candle while the music played.
A Nahuatl Indian Song from a book of poetry by Al Young”
I don’t know if you have been away
I go to bed with you and I wake up with you.
In my dreams you are beside me.
If the earrings on my ears tremble
I know it is you moving in my heart.
A Quote from Viktor Emil Frankl & Charlotte’s Purpose (This could be replaced by a Project/Charity that your family is passionate about)
"We cannot judge a biography by its length, by the number of pages in it; we must judge by the richness of the contents. Sometimes the "unfinisheds" are among the most beautiful symphonies."
Although Charlotte’s life was unfinished, her legacy does not have to be. Heather and Ian created a website called Charlotte’s Purpose to share their story, provide resources for other survivors of stillbirth, and to honor Charlotte. One way that they hope to keep her memory alive is through “Charlotte’s Journey”. If you remember Charlotte, write her name and take a picture of it. Send the picture and a note about the location to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be added to the site. Let’s see how far Charlotte’s name can travel!
Quotes from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh:
“If ever there is a tomorrow when we are not together, there is something that you must always remember: You are braver than you believe, you are stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we are apart, I’ll be with you.” *
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” *
*These quotes were nowhere to be found in Winnie the Pooh when I re-read it to my oldest son...so I think I misquoted A.A.Milne's work by taking the easy route and finding quotes online. No matter who wrote them, they made lovely sentiments.