13 November 2009

there is a story to tell

my little blogging hiatus was very good for me. although it was short, it was packed full of good intense work. i always work best under pressure. even if the pressure is self induced. my very important project that i mentioned in this post is currently at the print shop (hooray) and nearing the task of fine revising and the final binding process. i've learned never to say it's done until the bound book is in my hands. as any creative project goes, we keep a careful eye out for mistakes up until the very last moment. lucky for me, i am not swimming in unfamiliar territory to be feverishly designing a book at this time of year. my dad, the historian, and my boss, usually has clients with expectations for great christmas gifts. therefore the team of us are usually working hard to please.

however this time around i am trying to dot all my i's and cross all my t's extra carefully. this being the first real book i've created on my own. i've definitely done book layout prior to this, but my dad has always been my go-to guy, the creator of the book. he has been my crutch, my confidence boost at every corner. (i've discovered even if we aren't working side by side, my parents are always cheering on the sidelines. i love having folks who care about the work i am involved in.)

this would be a petite project with a big heart; a sort of family album that needed a simple layout to tell it's story, no chapters necessary. a perfect book for me to take on as a single designer. with permission from the family, i share with you their story...

out of the blue, lucinda, a sweet blog reader i've never known, emailed me with the premise of her project. right away we became friends. i felt intimidated but there was no question i would take it on. i felt honored to be involved. her story immediately resounded with me and i wanted to design her book. a sweet album for countless photographs, mounds of cards and letters and certificates of special meaning. a book for her, for her husband and for her son, cooper.

cooper austin was born last year on november 27th. thanksgiving day. no doubt there was an excited family thankful for his arrival; whole and happy and deliciously newborn. a trio was created with cooper as the newest addition. lucinda was a new mama. jamey, a new papa. as those of us who know the forever gaze into the face of a firstborn, life would never be the same again.

soon after birth, darling cooper was struggling with his oxygen levels. the brand new parents would learn later that their perfect little boy had a hole in his heart. i can only imagine the fear and pain of such agonizing news. a surgery was scheduled and miraculously within days, the family got to go home together and spend precious time with cooper. he was an active, alert, charming, happy little one to cuddle and enjoy. cooper knew a home full of love; memories made, snapshots taken, visits from grandmas and grandpas, lullabies sung, dogs awaiting introductions, a twinkling christmas tree, and a nursery full of brand new things. life was full of love. prayers and hope filled the days leading up to cooper's heart surgery. their strong and brave 3 week old son underwent a difficult surgery. after a stable night, his sweet spirit returned to heaven. cooper passed away on december 18, 2008. i ache for lucinda's empty arms, their breaking hearts and deepened sadness. i wonder how one copes with a loss so great.

amazingly lucinda started writing posts on her blog during this painful time and has continued to write as she journeys through the grieving process. as i read her words - surviving the holidays, preparing for his memorial service, dealing with the reality of the loss - i am in awe of her strength, her honesty, and her mama bear love for cooper. she writes poetry and letters to her little one. as the months pass and days blur with tears she writes about her ability to understand more about cooper and his perfect soul. she writes openly, describing the attempts to heal and move forward, while recognizing the hole that now remains in her own heart.

lucinda is a person i have never met, but i feel like i know her. she is a mother with a heart of gold, a beautifully kind person, someone i admire and respect. someone i'll never forget. and the same goes for her sweet son, her little cooper. he is someone i am honored to have known through pictures and stories and spirit. you are to live on in the hearts of all those you've touched.

among other things, lucinda took on creative projects to cope with her grief. since cooper was nicknamed birdie, she began knitting little birds to hang in the trees at his memorial service. she posted about her project on her blog. handmade birdies suddenly flew in (literally) from all around the world. lucinda was smiling again, with every trip to the mailbox. one woman created 54 birds to honor cooper, with spools of unconditional love and stitches of strength. colorful birds perched in every branch on that blue skied morning. cooper's flock became a way to feel his spirit and legacy. after the service, lucinda and her husband donated the birds - each made with love - to their local hospital. every child who is admitted for heart surgery receives a handmade bird as a symbol of hope and comfort. from this example, you can see why i so admire lucinda. she is molding her situation of sadness and grief into one of hope and happiness for others and thereby healing her heart in the process.

read more about lucinda's life and journey of strength on her blog. learn about cooper's flock and information about contributing your own birdie creations here (patterns available). thank you, lucinda for allowing us to learn from your experience and inspiring us with your words. for with them, cooper's legacy will live on.

... a new light and a new life has come into lucinda's life. such happy news, they are once again expecting. she will be delivering cooper's little brother in february 2010.


ALFIE said...

as a labor and delivery/pediatric nurse, i see first-hand the struggle, grief, and unimaginable pain that families experience when they loose a child. as a person on the outside-- you feel so helpless. you long to do something. anything. to ease the process, but are usually at a loss. for what can you do to heal this kind of hurt? marta- you are an angel for taking on this project. for helping this family honor their child and find an outlet for their very real grief.

regardless of whether a child lives on into adulthood, or never has the opportunity to breathe a breath on this earth, a famiy's greatest honor is having a child---and to help preserve the memories of their baby is remarkable.

the dibers said...

tears streaming.....what a story- thank you for sharng

Tiffany said...

Incredible story. You were the perfect person to help tell it. Hugs to you and this precious family!

Hil said...

what a touching story. it amazes me the strength some people have through such difficult times in their lives. this hits a little close to home and I am grateful for that sweet family's example.

i'm sure the book is absolutely beautiful.

Melissa A said...

This story touches my heart.

Miranda said...

what an amazing beautiful mama. so happy she found you to tell her story.

jularun7 said...

I am a puddle Marta. My heart goes out to Lucinda and her family.

Alyssa Coberly said...

I know isnt she amazing!!! I did loads of onesies and his birth announcements for dear little cooper and in working with her I swear we were best friends in another life!!!

Cant wait to see what the book looks like!

brooke said...

Oh my goodness. I am now such a mess. Thank you for sharing her sweet story. Life is so precious and I'm so grateful to know that she will get to hold her baby again and have him forever.

I'm going to go check out her blog.

Erin {pughs' news} said...

I went to take a look at Lucinda's blog after reading this post, and ended up going back all the way to the beginning, tears streaming down my face the entire time. What an amazing woman. Her strength is remarkable. As I was reading, my little boy, now 2 came up to me and climbed onto my lap. I hugged him oh-so-tight and covered him with kisses. I am reminded of how very lucky I am.
Thanks for sharing, Marta.

michelle said...

Beautiful. My little sister had a full-term stillbirth with her first pregnancy. I was with her at the hospital when we got the awful news. And when she buried her perfect baby girl. I went to grieving parents support groups with her. I have never lost a child, but it was still the most painful thing I have ever experienced.

I am so so happy that Lucinda found an outlet for her grief, a way to reach out to others, and a reason for being happy again!

[eeny] said...

This is so touching...and I can totally understand that Lucinda turned to you and asked you to design her book for Cooper. Your beautiful designs, amazingly kind words and the sweet way you write are just perfect to honor the little birdie.

As I was reading Lucinda's story there was a story popping up in my head. It was about a very very very old soul who's time was almost up. But they descided to send the very very very old soul down to earth again because it had a lot of alacrity, curiosity, amazement, happiness, and love left to give to the humans. They knew the very very very old soul has to return to heaven very soon to merge into eternity. But all the happiness it had left to share for even just a very very very short time was enough happiness to help the newborn’s parents and loved ones to get over the lost and mouning. And so it happened...as the very very very old soul was called to it’s ceremony of mergence with the eternity it had to leave earth. But the memories of the newborn where nothing but happy, everyone could bear the mouning. And from that time forward they sent all the very very very old souls back to earth to share the happiness they had left. This happiness gives the humans the strength to bear the following mouning and turn it step by step - bit by bit - little by little into something great.
I think it was something like that... it has been a long time since I read it. Have to go through my old books and see if I can find it.

Now I am sending all my love to Lucinda and her family.

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