Every 3-4 months, we have the flowers on Hope’s grave changed to match the current season. Her grave is in Georgia, where I’m from, but I currently live in Texas, so my mom sends me pictures each time Hope gets new flowers. I always post these pictures on social media because they are a way for me to ‘show off’ my daughter. While most moms get to post pictures of their daughters in pastel Easter dresses or cute first-day-of-school outfits, I only have a grave and a vase of silk flowers. While some people may think it odd that I share photos of Hope’s grave so often, it’s the only way I have to make her presence known to those around me. It may just look like flowers to others, but to me, it’s a chance to talk about Hope, to dream of how beautiful she would have been. Would she like the color purple like I do? Would she wear bows in her hair? Would she have curls like me?    

Every time I travel to Georgia to see my family, we make it a point to visit Hope’s grave and spend time with her. I always take a picture of my living children beside her grave. This is another ritual that may seem strange to people, but that is my only chance to get all my children in one picture. Those moments are so dear to me, especially now that I can take my rainbow baby, Sammy, to visit his big sister. These little rituals and moments are how I continue to parent Hope even though she is gone. When a baby dies, an entire life of moments and memories is stolen. So, as a mother, I have to find a way to remember her life, to celebrate her existence on this earth. I have to help Matti, my 4 year old, remember his baby sister, and I have to teach Sammy that he has a big sister in heaven. I choose not to cover up the gaping hole in our family, but to embrace it. Every day, I choose to be her mom.   

Every year, on May 17, our families celebrate Hope’s birthday. Will’s mom bakes an angel food cake, we sing to her, and we let her brother blow out her candles. We choose to let that day be special and contain moments of joy, because while it was her death day, it was also the day I met the most beautiful baby girl. And that is worth celebrating. If you were to walk in my house, you would see pictures of Hope and verses about our hope in Christ all over the place. I proudly display my daughter on my walls, and I never worry about what others think. She is my daughter, and I will always include her when I hang pictures of my children. This isn’t morbid or strange; this is what it looks like to parent after loss.    

I do each of these things with the confident hope that I will see my daughter again in heaven. I continue to parent her here because I believe that she is alive with Jesus. I refuse to forget her because I want her to know that mommy always looked forward to the day when we would be reunited. On Hope’s grave, there is a verse inscribed at the bottom. It is Romans 8:25, which states, “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” I cannot see her anymore, but I have great hope that I will see her again. And I am waiting for that day by remembering, celebrating, and loving my daughter, Hope Zoe Young.  

Lauren Young is a wife to Will and mom to two beautiful boys on earth (Matti and Sammy) and three precious babies in heaven (Hope, Jonah, and January).  She is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing, reading good books, cooking new recipes, and playing piano.  She lives in central Texas now but was born and raised in Georgia.  She and her husband are now in the adoption process and can't wait to see what God has in store for their family.