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My Sweet Angel

My Sweet Angel
4/6/09 4:45 pm 4 lbs 1 oz 17 inches

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reflections of Oct 15

The day has come and gone.  I want to share the event, but first I want to explain how it came to be.
It's funny how the brain (heart?) is able to remember such things.  I would have to think long and hard about what I did last Wednesday, but I can tell you exactly what I was doing on Oct 15 2009, 2010 and 2011.  I realize it is a "holiday" (for lack of a better term) for me now, but I'm not even sure I could recall Christmas 2010 without much thought and focus.  I guess Elise is lucky in that she gets to have 2 dates special for her.
October 15, 2009 was a Thursday.  I was new to the whole "baby loss" thing and wanted to light a candle for the Wave of Light at 7 pm, but I was alone in my car, driving to Ocean City for the teachers convention.  I remember driving down Rt 113 when I looked at the clock and saw it was a few minutes past 7.  I thought about Elise and even "talked" to her for a bit, but that was it.
October 15, 2010 was a Friday.  This year my entire family was in Ocean City with me (I was nursing a newborn).  I wasn't exactly prepared for the Wave of Light, but I made sure we were at the house at 7 to light a candle.  I found a little flip flop candle holder with a tea light in it and we sat it in the middle of the kitchen table.  We all sat at the table and talked about Elise and other babies that were in heaven.  I think we then went out for Ice Cream.  I remember thinking to myself that it just wasn't enough.  It didn't seem right that we just lit our own candle and remembered alone.  It was that night that I realized Oct 15, 2011 was going to be a Saturday and I wasn't going to let it pass so quietly!  I knew right then and there that I wanted to do something "big" for everyone to share in and be educated about.
I had a picture in my mind of a "bull roast" where people would come together to light candles and remember.  After arriving home from the beach, I was soon bombarded with Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I had to put my plan on the back burner til after the new year.  Once January hit, I began researching how to go about hosting this bull roast.  I knew that it would inevitably make money and I had to have somewhere for that money to go.  I scanned several websites looking for exactly who I wanted to raise the money for.  There are actually a lot of baby loss nonprofits out there.  Most of them are small and I considered a few to help them grow and make a real difference.  While on one website, I actually found a fundraising how to booklet download and I felt like I struck gold!  I really had no idea what I was doing or how to go about doing it, I just knew what I WANTED to do!
I went back to the homepage of the organization with the booklet and had to do a double take when I saw that their address was in Reisterstown, Maryland!  I knew this was the organization I wanted to raise money for! In March I contacted First Candle and began the planning for Elise's Honor Pregnancy Loss Remembrance and Awareness Event!  By April I had the location booked, May brought the flyer and the DJ, and June started the fundraising.  So many hours were spent finding the contact info for companies, e-mailing people, writing sponsorship letters, mailing letters and dropping off letters at local businesses.
I received a lot of rejections.  It was hard not to take it personally.  Every response that was "unable to help" was like a punch in the stomach.  Of course I understand the economy is tough and many places get an overwhelming number of requests, but really, what’s a $20 gift certificate going to set you back?  I was glad to at least get the response.  Many (MANY) places just didn’t even bother to respond.  At least a few places seemed to have read my request.  It took the sting out of rejection some when they offered condolences.  I mean part of my reason for doing this was to educate people, so at least I know if they read my request they probably learned something.  I will say that there is one company in particular who I feel let down by…I have spent literally HUNDREDS of dollars there and well, won’t be spending any more.
When all was said and done, I had almost 50 raffle baskets each worth about $100 each from donations.  Raffle ticket and 50/50 ticket sales were over $1000 the night of the event.  Personal donations and corporate cash donations equaled almost $1000.  Admission tickets were pretty much what the venue cost, so no money was made there.  I didn’t spend much on items for the event (candles, raffle tickets, stuff for the kids, etc) so all in all, I believe First Candle will receive about $1700 from the event. 
It felt almost like planning a wedding.  Months and months of preparations and preparing, sleepless nights, anticipation and then in a flash it was all over.  It happened so quickly I barely remember it!
Of course, my children knew we were having an event for Elise.  When we arrived at the restaurant and went inside to set up, my four year old son (who was barely 2 when Elise died) looked around and asked, “Where’s Elise?  I swear these children keep me on my toes.  I stopped what I was doing and sat down with him to explain that Elise wasn’t there; she was in Heaven, where she will always be.  The evening was about remembering and celebrating that she was once here, on Earth with us, in my belly.  I’m still not sure he understands.  I am pretty sure he thinks Elise somehow turned into Ella, I mean they both were in my belly and only Ella came out.
I couldn’t have asked for a better evening.  It was a little cool out, but not cold, not raining so we were able to use the balcony at the restaurant.  About 70 people came out that night; over 50 adults and almost 20 children.  The food was delicious (and we didn’t run out!)  There was a lot of conversation and I believe everyone had a good time.
I am waiting on the photographer to upload the photos he took at the event.  When he does I will update, but this is the link if you would like to sign up to be notified when the pictures are uploaded.  Here are a few that I took with my camera of the candles that were lit for the “Wave of Light” from 7-8.


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