The gift was a little girl who we named Meadow Hope Phillips.
Meadow came into our lives on Aug. 12, 2010. She never took a breath on this earth, but her little life has impacted our family forever. I had a few moments to look at her sweet face as my wife, Andrea, held her little body. I will never forget her.
Meadow was our third infant loss in a 2-year span. While she was stillborn at 19 weeks, the other two babies were lost due to miscarriage early in pregnancy. We didn’t know if they were male or female, but we had an inner hunch that the first was a boy, who we named Rock It, and the second was a girl, who we named True Love.
As a way to remember all three of those little ones, we do something special each year on Aug. 12. This year, Andrea came up with the idea to do a balloon release.
The balloon release was Sunday. I was working so we decided Gamble Park in Jasper would be our location for this year. After hanging out with our fellow sinners at InnerChange UMC in McCalla, we drove to Winn-Dixie in Jasper to get our balloons. Before going into the store, I was instructed to get one yellow balloon, one green balloon and one purple balloon.
That’s just what I did. But as I walked around the store with those three balloons, I starting thinking that I probably looked ridiculously silly. Here I was, a 34-year-old, nearly 300-pound man, walking about the grocery store with three random colored balloons.
After leaving the store, I mentioned my concern to Andrea. She said, “You’re crazy.”
As we drove to Gamble Park, Andrea began writing the names of each baby on the balloon. As she finished True’s name, the yellow balloon burst.
“That’s not good,” I said.
We drove back to Winn-Dixie, and this time I asked Andrea to be the one to go get the balloon. When she returned, I said, “You’ve confirmed it for me.”
She looked puzzled.
“You’ve just confirmed that an adult looks silly walking around with a balloon, and if you looked that silly with one balloon, I can only imagine how silly I looked with three random colored balloons,” I said.
We both laughed as she finished writing the names on each balloon. She also included a note on each ballon that said, “Mommy loves you and can’t wait to see you.”
Our children also participated in the balloon release. Our three oldest, Stone (9), Breeze (7) and Daisy (5) wanted to be the ones to release the balloons. Stone held the green balloon for Rock It, Breeze held the yellow balloon for True, and Daisy held the green balloon for Meadow. 10-month-old Joy just sat and looked cute during our little ceremony.
As a family, we chatted for a few moments about why we were there, and then I counted down the release. The balloons soared upward, and we just stood there. I expected the children to run for the playground, but they didn’t. They watched to see how high the balloons would go.
As we followed the balloons upward, I took a few moments to peek at each of my children and my wife. I am incredibly blessed to have each of them in my life, and that’s what I thought about as I saw them peering toward the sky.
There are no explanations for the losses that we’ve experienced, and there is really no explanation for the incredible blessings that we’ve been given.
On Sunday afternoon, I was reminded that through the good and the bad, we’ve always looked upward.
James Phillips is Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.