While Siena's legacy is in its early development, her big sister Kenna's legacy continues to grow. Over the past seven and a half years, it has become abundantly clear that the footprint she left on our family and the role she continues to play is not going to be small. Here are five ways that Kenna has and continues to impact the world around her...
1. We are Catholic because of Kenna. Seriously, without her giving us the push we needed to boldly speak our pro-life beliefs we would probably not ever have made the switch. Even when our previous churches made us somewhat uncomfortable with *open-minded* beliefs on this subject, we were very happy and considered it an issue that wouldn't ever affect us anyways. They were (and are) nice people so that was enough, right? Well it turns out that once a person becomes truly convicted of the value of human life from conception to natural death, being a part of a church that "can't agree" doctrinally if your child ever existed as a distinct human being becomes fairly important. Or at least it did to us...
2. I truly believe that in the form of heavenly intervention placing a distinct, specific concern on my heart it is entirely possible that Logan would not be a part of our family today. In case you want to read the entire story, you can find it here, but the short version is that he was induced shortly before 36 weeks after failing his biophysical profile exam (which I wouldn't have been having if not for Kenna). He was born completely wrapped in his cord, so tightly he had bruises.
3. I am a stay at home mom because of Kenna. Again, seriously. I worked through my pregnancy and beyond with both boys. We had moved just before Kenna died and I was actively looking for a teaching position throughout my pregnancy with Kylee. Somehow, however, I just couldn't bring myself to say yes to anything that came up. It was frustrating, because I loved (love) my profession and I miss it sometimes, but I realized there was nothing more important I wanted to do than be the one to take care of my own babies. Staying at home led to homeschooling and the rest (as they say) is history.
4. She has inspired our family to be more generous and compassionate of others in difficult situations. For her second birthday, we donated a lending library to our local hospital's bereavement group. Over the years, we have made several monetary donations in her name. Currently, I have had in my heart to knit for bereavement programs at area hospitals. Most of the time, babies who pass during the mid-late second trimester or early third trimester are too small for the standard hospital supplies. Knitting smaller items allow the parents to have something specially made for their baby that they can bring home with them as a keepsake.
5. Finally, in addition to bringing us home to the Catholic church, Kenna literally brought us home. Through the last 7 years we have brought her with us wherever we moved. When we had our house fire in 2012, I went back inside simply to retrieve her cremated remains lest they be damaged. Initially we didn't bury her due to a lack of money and no significant encouragement to do so from our church. As time went on, we had some much moving and changes the time never seemed right- we didn't want to bury her and then move again and leave her behind. When we came into the Catholic church (while living in Utah), our priest told us that he has noticed a trend of people waiting longer to bury their loved ones, but we would know when the time was right.
2 months ago today, we were told that our miracle in the making would likely not survive the week. My first thought was, We will bury our babies together (we didn't know she was a she back then). We even spoke with our priest about doing just that. We found our local cemetary and began preparing ourselves mentally and spiritually to take this step in our journey as Kenna's parents. We prayed for Kenna's continued intercession on her sister Siena's journey. Each night, I wrapped my belly in Kenna's baby blanket and implore her to spend the time I am sleeping in prayer for us.
Only it became clear that Siena is not ready to throw in the towel just yet!
Instead of thinking about burying my daughters together, I started to think maybe we don't need to bury Siena just yet. Maybe, just maybe, God has something different planned for her and the time had come to bury Kenna one way or another.
This past Sunday, just the seven of us, we committed Kenna's earthly remains to our local Catholic cemetary. The cemetary managers encouraged us that many parents of infants choose to dig their own site, so we had the kids help us do just that. We lined her grave with blessed palms from Palm Sunday last year, Aidan and Kylee drew pictures that they added, and then after we buried her tiny urn we had a short time of family prayer by candlelight to end our evening.
We still need to select and purchase a marker for the site, but there is great peace in having made this step. Particularly in the timing and the place.
As Tim said on our way home to a supper feast from our summer garden,
I guess this means we are home.