In October I had the honor of sharing our story at the Hayden’s Helping Hands auction called Hands on Hope. I was nervous beyond all belief and didn’t want to speak in front of a crowd but, at the same time, I knew our story needed to be told because I understand, on a personal level, the deep impact Hayden’s Helping Hands has on those who have suffered the loss of a stillborn child. I also knew that there would be people there who could relate and wanted to help those people maybe feel a little less alone.
My speech did not go as planned. In an attempt to make eye contact with each person, connecting with them and not simply reading from my paper I got lost and stumbled a bit. I kicked myself for what felt like my failed attempt, and yet, I had great conversations with people afterward I might not have had if I had never taken the time to look up. The essence of this speech was still there and the audience got to see that it was real, authentic, raw.
For those who have ever wondered if there is a way to help support loved ones who have had to say goodbye to a stillborn child, or wondered if Hayden’s Helping Hands actually makes a difference, here is what that speech said.
Good evening. My name is Allie Drake. I am a high school teacher, friend, daughter, sister, the wife of my wonderful husband Ben and…mother to Verity Grace Drake born on July 9th, 2017 at 22 weeks old.
As a teacher, I like to know the meaning of words. I use a lot of words in a day and so I like knowing what those words mean so that I can know I am using them well. I want to make sure that my words are being used to encourage, uplift, and speak life into others.
The definition of Verity means “a firm belief in something; especially something of fundamental importance”. I first read that word in a World War II fiction book called “Code Name Verity” and was hooked. Thankfully it was a name my husband also liked, though we wondered if our future child would be mocked on the playground or called the wrong name or grow up hating it and so we waited to make the final name decision until she was born. And then we got “the news”. That news nobody wants to hear and is an expectant family’s greatest fear. The news we dread. The news many of you in this room may have also heard, although maybe not in these exact words. “That is where the baby’s heartbeat should be.”
And it became so clear. We knew her name. Verity Grace. A firm, fundamental belief in grace. You see, we had begged, pleaded, prayed for a child, struggling with infertility, and finally, finally we were pregnant and we couldn’t believe how blessed we were. We believe in God’s grace and that He is good. And then our world came crashing down. And yet, He is still good. This loss is not good and does not feel good but He is good and is walking beside us on this journey we walk still. And that even in these hard moments He brings facets of beauty and grace.
During this journey of loss we have found facets of beauty, the kind that shoot up from the deep core of pain when you are somehow able to open your eyes, and your heart, wide enough. Facets of beauty found in our delivery nurses, the support of our family, the photos taken, the momentos collected.
Hayden’s Helping Hands has been one of those facets of beauty. In the delivery room, as we held our stillborn daughter, whispered “I love you” and said our goodbyes, our hearts felt heavy with pain. Pain that reached deep in our very cores. And so we returned home, with a few precious photos and keepsakes but ultimately with arms empty and hearts heavy, lost in that deep core pain.
In the waiting for the delivery bills to come and the wounds to be reopened we were told about Hayden’s Helping Hands, a foundation “dedicated to financially assist parents with medical expenses after the birth of a stillborn baby”. A foundation that, with the contributions made from people like yourselves, comes to the rescue of those who don’t physically get to bring home their child from the hospital. Unless you have experienced it yourself, I cannot truly put into words the deep, core encroaching pain that comes with a little piece of paper declaring what you owe the hospital in place of your child. In place of that little face, you had loved and hoped for and expected to bring home, you are left with a brutal reminder of what you have lost. And so, in the same way, I cannot accurately put into words the amazing feeling of relief (for lack of a better descriptive word) that comes in knowing others have banded together to help bear that brutal burden. Other people, like those of you here tonight, have chosen to make sacrifices both large and small so that when that little piece of paper comes, the family grieving can grasp on to a wonderful, core reaching facet of beauty.
The word “facet” comes from the French word “facette” or “little face”. How perfectly fitting for a company whose essence is in the little faces we hold so dear. Those precious little faces that have impacted our lives so deeply, even though our time with them was cut far too short.
Many of you have a story similar to ours or have close friends or family members who have experienced something similar. Many of you have contributed so that families like ours can reach out and cling to facets of beauty in the depths of pain. Many of you have been a beautiful, wonderful glimpse of grace.
Thank you to Randy and Rebekka for your passion and love for a community steeped in loss. Thank you to all who have loved and supported this foundation. And thank you to Hayden, who’s life was a catalyst for facets of beauty.