For Elise

Water broke.  Need you here,” wrote my sister’s husband, Joe.  I stared at my phone, trying to comprehend how so much grief and sadness could be packaged into such small, simple words.  How could so few words say so much?  How could they completely eviscerate all hope? 

My sister, Maryellen, was 20 weeks pregnant with her beautiful baby girl, Elise.  It was too early—much too early.  But as we all knew, once her water broke, there would be no stopping her delivery.  

It was happening.

On that day, which was one year ago today, my sister, Maryellen, and her husband welcomed their perfect little girl, Elise.  Soon after, they had to say goodbye to their sweet baby girl.

I think about that day a lot.  All the time, actually.  I think it’s because I felt completely helpless, and I knew that there was nothing—nothing—I could do or say to take my sister’s sadness away.  What can you say when someone is preparing to say goodbye to their child?  It is incomprehensible.

I am usually a positive person, so on hard days with my own kids, I find myself saying it could be worse.  I do this several times a day.  Everyone is sick, babies up all night?  It could be worse because we’re not dealing with life-threatening illnesses.  No naps for anyone and my husband working late?  It could be worse, at least they’ll go to bed early.  In short, it could always be worse.  Except for that day, when my sister welcomed her baby girl far too early.  There was nothing worse.  There was nothing worse than welcoming a perfect, beautiful baby who you’ve hoped and prayed for, and who you know will pass away.  There was nothing worse in the world, and I couldn’t say or do anything to fix it that day.  Instead, I was a bystander to my sister's grief and tried to just be present and absorb whatever sadness I could in hopes it would lessen hers and her husband's.

Sometimes I think back to when I was pregnant with my triplets and I told everyone to stop preparing for their arrival, as we weren’t sure when they would arrive and whether they’d be ok.My sister asked, well then, what’s it all for?  What’s it all for? 

Now, after the death of her child, I was left feeling the same way. What’s it all for?  And for me, the following question is, what can I DO, and is there anything I can do to make this better?  

I think I can help today, on Elise’s birth day.  You can help, too.

Today, I’d like to help keep Elise’s memory alive by spreading kindness, hope, and love.  That can mean buying someone’s coffee.  It can mean saying a prayer for my sister and her family. It can mean donating old baby clothes and gear to Goodwill, where someone who needs them can use them. None of these acts will take much time or effort on our part, but these acts would mean the world to my sister and her family.  

I know I can’t take away their grief today, but at least I—or rather, we—can create a small, glimmering silver lining to a day that is otherwise all clouds and rain.

We love you, Elise, and you are always in our hearts.  

P.S.  If you spread some love today while remembering Elise, can you please share it with me? Post it to my facebook page, message me on FB, or email me (, and I will share it with my sister.  Thank you.