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Maybe it is a byproduct of grief, or just my nature, but I often find myself getting stuck on a single thought.  Something will come to mind, and I’ll toss it around in my head like a rock tumbler, over and again.  Exposing different facets, removing edges, until what remains is a softened version, something I can carry.

Lately I’ve been processing the idea of nine months. At one point in my life I believed nine months was a long time.  While it’s not insubstantial, what I marvel about now is how much can be contained within that timeframe.  Nine months represents the length of human pregnancy, and the life expectancy for a child with DIPG.  As if to mirror this life/death aspect, it has now been nine months since Piper’s death, and in this same month we welcome her new baby sister to the world.

It’s a complicated tightwire to walk, balancing the death of one child with the birth of another. Balancing isn’t even the right word, it suggests some method, but there is none to be found here.  More accurately, we feel suspended yet unsteady, crowded with all manner of emotions, tipping one way then another, but always generally forward. Because how could we ever expect to arrange in our hearts the life given and the life taken… what we have lost and what we have found? These sisters will eventually share everything except the same lifetime. Our home will always feel incomplete in that way.

Yet Piper remains a part of daily conversations, both spoken and felt.  She is a fixture in our heads and in our hearts. As soon as we learned we were having a girl we knew Piper’s legacy needed to be part of not just baby’s upbringing, but also her name.  A few different ideas went through the tumbler until eventually, one felt right:

Olive Noel Waneka

Piper is our little dove, and throughout history a dove grasping an olive branch has symbolized something of divine importance: peace. Piper came into this world on December 18, exactly one week before Christmas, and the word Noel is derived from Latin meaning “to be born”.  

Peace is born… and carried to us by Piper. What a lovely thought.  One I look forward to contemplating at great lengths while we get to know Olive, as we walk beside Harlow, and as we hold Piper safely in our hearts, forever.  

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