Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gift Exchange

I've been meaning to write this post for a while. I'm AWESOME at procrastinating.

I absolutely love Christmas. I love the music, the food, the traditions, spending time with family... but most of all, i LOVE picking out gifts for my family and friends. If no one gave me presents, I wouldn't care... I would be fine with getting zero gifts as long as I was still able to buy gifts for other people. I love going out (or staying in and shopping online) to find the pefect gift for the ones I love.

This year, I participated in the very first Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope gift exchange. The lovely ladies of FOLFOH paired each woman up with another woman whose babyloss circumstances were similar. I knew that much, but what I didn't know was that they would try to match up women in the same city or geographical area!

When I got the e-mail from them telling me who my gift exchange partner was, I thought I was reading it wrong. My partner's name was Lea, and her address said she lived on the same street as me. In the same city. I thought maybe whoever did the matching had been looking at my address  when they were typing hers, or something. I e-mailed Lea right away... and it turns out that we live on the same street... except she lives a few miles away. Stil, what a small world right? Another weird thing about that is, she and her husband used to live in our neighborhood before they moved to their current house.

Every time I hear about a woman or couple in our city that lost a baby, my heart breaks, but it is also a "good" feeling to know that I'm not completely alone in this. Because at times, grief is a really, really lonely and isolating feeling. Any baby loss mama will tell you that

Lea and I e-mailed back and forth a few times and read eachothers blogs. Her daughter, Sofia,  was still born in October, and had the most beautiful head of thick dark hair. I cried and cried as I read her story. I so distinctly remember the way I felt at Christmas time last year, only a month-ish after Livie died. I tried so hard to seem like I was okay and make people think that I was enjoying the holiday, but I wasn't okay. I'm sure people noticed, but if they did they were nice enough to keep their mouths shut about it. Reading Lea's words about her daughter brought me right back to that place. I know that these next few days will be very rough for Lea and her husband.

To participate in this gift exchange, each woman had to answer questions about their loss, and list things that reminded them of their baby/child/loss. I listed dragonflies, angels, and said that anything baby related makes me cry.

A week or so ago, I received a box in the mail. In it, was a beautiful watercolor painting of a dragonfly, with Olivia's name near it. She also attached the dragonfly story that I love so much. I thought the painting was lovely and told everyone in my family how nice of a gift it was, and how touched I was that Lea took the time to sit down and paint it for me.

I e-mailed her to say thank you. And she must have thought it was the biggest idiot EVER. Because at the end of the e-mail, she said something about how when she saw it, she had to buy one for herself too, to keep a lock of Sofia's hair in.

"WTF is she talking about!???!" I thought. Then it hit me. Oh SH**T. There must be something in the box that I didn't see! I jumped up from the couch and started panicking, because I was pretty sure that Kurt threw the box away. Luckily, it was still sitting on top of my craft table. Inside, I found this...

A beautiful dragonfly box, with a November birthstone angel pin inside. Such a sweet and thoughtful gift. I am so glad that Lea mentioned it, otherwise that box would've eventually gone straight out to the garage and I never would have seen it! Sorry Lea :) I feel so stupid!

Sofia's middle name is Rose... so it's not surprising that roses are what remind Lea and her husband of their little girl. I ordered them this bell ornament that I found on Etsy...

In her card, I wrote a quote from one of my favorite Christmas movies, It's a Wonderful Life - "Everytime a bell rings an angel gets it's wings". I cried as I wrote the card and thought about Sofia Rose, and I have tears in my eyes as I think about her and her sweet mommy. I read on Lea's blog this afternoon that she and her husband are going to keep it near their tree every year, and ring it on Christmas morning before they open presents. She said that she would like it to be one of the traditions that they share each year with their future children. I think that is such an amazing idea, and I'm so glad she liked her gift :)

 I feel very blessed to have been "matched" with Lea, and I am so thankful to Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope for putting together this gift exchange. I can't wait to do it again next year!

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lissasue3 said...

I have tears in my eyes reading this post. So very sweet. I wish I had known about the exchange because I would have participated! Will you meet Lea in person?

butterflymom said...

I love hearing about all of the really wonderful gifts that people have received through the gift exchange. It was such a great idea...already looking forward to it next year. What a beautiful story, Betsy. Thank you for sharing. Have a blessed Christmas. ((hugs)0

Holly said...

That is amazing that they matched you with someone so close to you!!! I love both of your gifts

Lia Larson said...

Haha, just read your email and saw this blog posting. I'm so glad I mentioned it too! You were probably thinking nice painting but that's it!? ;) Thank goodness it didn't get tossed - glad you have it. And we did ring the bell Christmas morning. It's something we'll treasure forever.

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