It is beyond belief how your life can change in an instant. One moment you are seemingly going through the motions of your normal day and then within seconds things seem to stop and everything is different. That moment arrived when Garrett passed and we honestly were brought to our knees with such pain. You literally wonder how you will ever move forward.
Finding a new normal was something Alan and I talked about a lot, it is not easy nor something that comes quickly. It takes time, lots of healing and a wonderful support system. Any parent knows that the moment you have a child you simply cannot remember what your life was like before them and honestly don’t care to. With a newborn baby your life revolves around them; everything you do it for them, with them and because of them so when your child passes so quickly, as in the case of SIDS, you are instantly thrown into a new world of “now what?”
Alan and I had a 3 year old son and quickly decided we would do whatever it took to keep Garrett’s spirit alive for Nolan and ourselves. We celebrate milestones in Garrett’s life as we would if he were here on earth. We do balloons, cake and ice cream and sing Happy Birthday for his special day. We blare our favorite song that reminds us of him on days when our heart aches for his smile. Our house is full of memories of him and photos of his sweet face. In the beginning those photos and things brought pain to my heart but now they bring a smile to my face. I have learned to celebrate his short but beautiful life. Our son Nolan, asks to talk about him a lot and when he wishes to do so we graciously oblige. We believe talking about him keeps his memory alive and etched in our hearts. It is also a healing process for us all I think.
Garrett and his life have been honored in so many wonderful ways. There are trees planted for him, a bookshelf at our local library in the children’s section marked with his name but one we are most proud of is the Garrett Alan Atnip Foundation. We contacted our local hospital where Garrett was born and asked about them providing SIDS literature and safe sleep pamphlets in Garrett’s name to all newborn babies. They so graciously agreed. The hospital also partnered with Halo to use the sleep sacks in their nursery. It warms our heart to know Garrett’s legacy left will be about educating people on safe sleep habits for newborns. His life may have been short but because of this he will never be forgotten.
I think it is important that no matter how you wish to celebrate or honor their life you do what feels right for your family without allowing yourself to worry what others might think.
Try to never let the love that created that child be lost with their passing and keep their spirit alive in your hearts as well as others.
Did you miss part 1 of Kimberly's Story? Click to read Part 1 of Kimberly’s story.
Kimberly Atnip is mother to Nolan, Garrett, Justin and Michael. Kimberly will conclude her story with a post on June 7.