Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Second Annual Lydie's Loop: A Photo Recap


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I've been wanting to process Lydie's Loop in this space, but I haven't known where to begin.  It’s hard to find the words to explain what it’s like to work nonstop for six months on an event that culminates in 232 people wearing t-shirts that bear your dead daughter’s name and her footprints.  It’s hard to put those emotions into words.  But we got the professional photos back just yesterday, so I’m going to try to use them to tell this story.

On the morning of Lydie’s Loop, at 6 am, I left my house in the dark, driving my Mom’s loaded SUV.  I followed Justin in our loaded Odyssey and my dad in his loaded SUV.  I listened to Lydie’s playlist and I cried.  I cried because I wished that I was one of the many “normal moms” who said things to me like, “Oh, wish we could make it, but we have soccer!”  I wished my biggest cause of stress and anxiety was a packed schedule. 

Just the week before, I had wailed to my sister on the phone about this, how many people gave me some reason they couldn’t make it.  How I wished I couldn’t make some event that is to honor their dead daughter with the ultimate goal to stop babies from dying in the same way their baby had.  We have soccer on Saturday mornings too, and in fact, I’m even the coach.  But there are some times that people just need to SHOW UP.

So I got my tears out on the dark drive, and I heaved a sob when I turned into our old neighborhood, the one I lived in for six years and Lydie lived in for eight months.  But when I pulled into the park’s parking lot, I wiped those tears away and got ready to work.

Which is good because the biggest downside to this park is that you can’t drive anywhere close to the pavilion.  We decided to host at this park again, to not give people a new location to find, and to not have to run the loops of Lydie’s Loop five or six times to track out the mileage on my FitBit like we did for the first event.  But the many trips with the wagon or the Double Bob (which we ironically purchased for our two babies while I was pregnant with Lydie, which is NOT how we imagined using it), certainly add to the work of the day.  Gratefully, I have a few friends who not only SHOW UP but also BRING COFFEE, and we all started our unloading to set up in the dark.


As we set up the pavilion, a Lydie Sky greets us.  It was a moment for me.We also needed that daylight!


My excited kiddos arrive! Thankful for an Oma who pulled morning duty with them.
Know what's cool?  When years ago you have happy hour margaritas with a soccer friend and some of her friends, you meet a cool woman who is starting her own children's entertainment business, she is so good at what she does that she grows her company into a huge business in a couple years, and sixish years after your first and last meeting, she SHOWS UP and volunteers her time to make awesome balloon animals at your event for your dead daughter.

First balloon of the day is for this rainbow girl.

Look at these big kids, writing their sister/cousin's name all by themselves.

I talk a lot about Beth, one of the women who delivered both of my girls, in this space.  I know how lucky I am to have her.
And I think Jos is pretty lucky too.


And here are Beth's triplets, my niece and nephew (who loooove Beth's triplets), and my kiddos.  Special.



For comparison sake, here's the same kiddos from a year ago.  Minus Josie and plus Lane's pirate facepaint.



Love this photo of our family of five.  Might just be able to send a Christmas card this year.  

Still love this work done by my friend Jessi Snapp, using Lydie's footprints.

We ended up with over forty-five raffle and silent auction prizes.  I actually had help in this area, which was sooo nice!  My uncle Ron made this gorgeous memory box, which was a big hit.  Lydie has the same one.

Almost ready to go.

We had real signs this year!  LEGIT.

Registration is open!


And we begin!  Another speech about Lydie and Star Legacy.

One of our blunders of this event... we decided to read each of the 51 baby names aloud.  At the end of my speech, I said that we don't get to hear their names called at graduation, so we wanted to recognize them here today.  And then I shuffled through all my papers, but the names, that I had so carefully collected, organized, and printed were missing.  I shuffled some more.  And some more.  Until someone tossed us a t-shirt.  It's amazing how you can be so organized and yet the day of the event, it can all go to shit.  That list never did turn up.  But I heard from several people that they loved hearing their child's name... guess were we read it from was not what mattered.
Getting ready for the kids' dash

Look at my boy hustling in the kids' dash!  
All the runners and walkers line up!
Our rainbow.



Lydie's Fam.  Love having photos that feel as complete as they get to be in this lifetime.


The morning passed in a blur.  Meeting new people, trying to stick to our timeline while watching folks walk in from the parking lot when the welcome speeches were supposed to start 5 minutes ago, hugging friends who I haven't seen in a long time who SHOWED UP, chasing raffle bags that blew away as the wind picked up, hoping someone was watching my children because I wasn't, answering questions from all the volunteers, attempting to fix the time clock that never actually showed the time, monitoring the silent auction sheets and hoping the bids came in (they did!), pulling names from raffle bags and announcing winners, and finally... drinking beer at the bar with a few old friends, a few baby loss friends, and my family.
And rainbow babies.

And afterwards, after party.  Which included beer.
The rest of the day passed in a blur as well, as we hosted a SLF Board Member from Minnesota who felt like an old friend, as my family for the day and more old friends visiting for beers late into the evening.

I'd call the event a success, with over $18,000 raised.  Not the $21,000 we raised last year but not too shabby either.  Lydie's Loop brought a community together in Ohio and awareness about stillbirth and prevention efforts, allowed us to continue to promote the Ohio Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation.   I truly believe that we should not only be supporting bereaved families but focusing on research and prevention efforts, and I also believe that we can do a whole lot more as a national organization working together.

A friend asked me if I had recovered only a couple days later.  Yeah right.  I'm still trying to wrap up this year's event.  I think what others may not recognize is that the work is not over when the event is over.  I wish I was done on October 7th but instead I had bunches of virtual shirts to mail out, dozens of thank you notes to write and mail to businesses and individuals that donated food, raffle prizes, and silent auction prices.

I've heard lots of thank yous, and that feels good, because it often feels like thankless work.

I also got an email TWO DAYS later asking about the date of next year's Lydie's Loop.  While it made me want to throw my phone across the room because please just let me catch my breath, I know it's also a compliment of the highest degree.  My mom told me planning for next year started on October 8th.  Here it goes, continuing on with Lydie's story.

As my friend Molly told me, she was thinking while driving away from Lydie's Loop, "I was so immensely grateful that you've created this fun and festive event where people can smile AND cry AND play AND grieve AND remember AND hope."   
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A great article about Lydie, Lydie's Loop, and how we founded the Ohio Chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation was published here.  It was exciting to see it on the front page of our local paper!

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