"Our Little Trooper"

"Our Little Trooper"
"Let me live, that I may praise you!" Psalm 119:175

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"God is in the details": Everything happens for a reason... even in a cemetery...part 2

This story will likely blow your minds...I know it did our family, and Olivia's family.

You probably saw me post about our friends young daughter, Olivia, who passed away last month, on May 19th, 2017 at just 6 years old from a DIPG brain tumor.  I shared how we had a photo of Rowan and Olivia, fist-bumping 3 years prior to their deaths, before he was even considered for transplant, before she was even diagnosed. 

There is so much more to their story though.

"God works in mysterious ways"..."God's ways are perfect"...we have all heard those statements time and again.  Well our two families, are living proof, in many ways.  Here is one story that exemplifies it the most...and again, it brings us to a cemetery...

I'm sure you all remember Rowan's beautiful "Iron Man" casket, designed and created by the beautifully talented soul, Trey Ganem of Trey Ganem Designs. 

Well, when Olivia passed away, so soon after Rowan (just 5 months later), I knew immediately that I wanted to have Trey do her casket.  Brian agreed 100%!  Ian and I went to Olivia's home, the evening of the morning that she passed, and sat down with her Mom, Dad, brother and sister.  We told them that we wanted to gift her casket to them, and asked them about all the special details they would like included.  Ian and I took notes of the scriptures her parents had rested on, her favorite colors, all of their favorite family photos, her favorite stuffed animal "Pippy Lippie", etc.  We conveyed those ideas to Trey the next day, and what he came up with was just beautiful.  It was the perfect "Olivia" piece of art!  It was pink and purple, and even had some of her own artwork on it, and the photo of Rowan and her, meeting 3 years before...

Over the next 2 weeks, I tried to be there for her family as much as possible, as they planned her funeral and burial.  It was so soon, too close to when I made Rowan's final plans, but God gave me the strength.  Just as Lorraine had helped me with Rowan's (even though she had buried her own daughter as well), I tried to be there for these dear friends too.  I obviously could not be there for it all... but God still kept our lives, our stories, our faith, intertwined. 

Here is where it gets good...

The day of the Marrow Ambassador Golf Tournament, which was held in Rowan's memory, to benefit Gencure/Be the Match, Olivia's parents went out on their own and visited 4 different cemeteries.  They just drove through, or walked around them, trying to get a feel for where they would like to have her body laid to rest.  I apologized for not being able to join them, since I was at the golf tournament, but they understood and just asked me to come by that evening or the next day to talk about the different options.  I went the next morning, and Olivia's mom and I sat in the front room of their house as she explained the 4 different cemeteries they had visited.  She couldn't remember the name of each of them, but she described what she liked the most about them.  One that she described, sounded beautiful and peaceful, like it may have been one she liked the most.  At that moment, Olivia's Daddy came out from the back room, from making phone calls, and said "Well, the first and only one to call back was Hill Country Memorial Gardens, so it looks like we will go with that one."  Vivian, said "That's it, that's the one I was talking about, out in the hill country".  I smiled from ear to ear.  See, Charles had been at Rowan's funeral, but they had not been able to be at his burial.  They did not realize that they had been led to choose the exact cemetery that Rowan had just been laid to rest at.  I was in awe.

But that's not all...

They went to meet with the owner of the cemetery a couple of days later, to go over the details and to choose her plot.  The day and time had changed because the owner had a personal matter to tend to, so again, I was not with them when they went.  While they were there, they sent me a photo of Charles, in the location they were choosing to bury their sweet Olivia.  My breath was taken away immediately as I looked at the photo on my phone...my knees almost gave out. 

As I mentioned earlier, they originally did not know which cemetery Rowan was buried at, and they certainly did not know the exact spot.  Well, Charles was standing about 10 feet from Rowan's grave in the photo.  They chose a plot for Olivia that was one row away from Rowan's plot.  In the entire cemetery, they chose that specific spot...or should I say God did.  I cannot explain the feeling of peace that gave both of our families.  Our babies, yes our babies...they were 10 and 6, but they are the youngest members of our families, so they are our babies...would be laid to rest a mere 10 feet apart from each other.  I get chills every time I think about it.

Attending her burial was so difficult, but so important to me.  I took Rowan flowers first (pink and orange-pink for Olivia, orange for Rowan), before heading to the covered pavilion to where Olivia's casket was. 

Rowan's grave is on the left, with the orange and pink flowers laying on the ground, Olivia's plot is where the tent and green tarp lay, in preparation to lower her casket that day.  The proximity again, took my breath away.

Even writing that sounds crazy.  You shouldn't have to bury your child, and then attend another service just a few months later, where your friends bury their child too, let alone just a few feet away.  But as difficult as it was (is)... I have to remember, "God's ways are perfect".  This whole story has been God directed.

I have visited Rowan's grave weekly since he passed.  I sit and talk to him, I journal, I listen to the sounds of nature around me, I feel the breeze, and yes sometimes I lay down and weep... for a long, long time.  But now, I visit them both...actually all 3 of them (Rowan, Justin and Olivia are all 3 laid to rest there now).

If you ever doubt that God is in the details...look at these photos, of these children's fresh graves...

Rowan's is in the foreground, Olivia's in the top right of the photo.

In this one, Rowan's is on the left, Olivia's is on the right.

Brian and Charles have known each other for many years.  Rowan and Olivia met 3 years before their deaths.  Our families have shared meals, and many prayers over these children.  I sat and held Olivia's hand every Wednesday for weeks, the final time being less than 48 hours before she passed.  Olivia's family has had the picture of Rowan and Olivia on their living room wall for over a year...and it is still there.  And now, because of God's divine intervention, their tiny bodies are buried one row apart in a small cemetery in the Texas hill country, even though we both live in two different cities nearly 30 miles apart.


Please don't misinterpret this post, or my placing such importance on where Rowan and Olivia's Earthly bodies now lay.  Both of our families have the blessed assurance that our babies are running around Heaven together, healthy, whole and new...with no disease, no sickness, no pain.  But, their cemetery plots remind us daily, that God is in all of the details.  He puts people in your life for a reason, even when you would throw that friendship away in a heartbeat to have your child back (sorry Charles and Vivian, but I know you agree)...we have to trust that God has a purpose.  In the meantime, we lean on each other, pray for each other, stand in the gap for each other's families, laugh and cry together, visit our babies' graves, share our grief, remember their life messages, and wait for the glorious day that we are reunited with our sweet angels.

And though we did not intend 3 years ago, for this verse to mean what it does today, we still believe...that Rowan and Olivia are healed, truly, truly, healed!


  1. Beautiful and yes, God-led for sure!!! God Bless You and Your Family. And thank you for everything you have done for Olivia, my son and daughter-in-law, and Olivia's siblings. Your family is such a Blessing to all of us. God Bless You All.

    Charles' Mom

  2. Thank you for sharing this amazing miracle! God's hand is in every detail for sure!! God Bless your families. <3<3