Tribute…

To know her was to love her.
Although I have several nieces & nephews on my husband’s side of the family, on March 22nd, 2011, my sister gave birth to the first niece I was related to by blood, Delaney Rose.
I was a very proud Aunt.
4 days after Delaney Rose was born, my family of four traveled across the state to meet our niece/cousin for the first time. I could hardly contain my excitement! My girls were also excited to meet & hold another baby cousin. Delaney was wide awake for the first couple hours we visited, she looked directly into our eyes and I felt in my heart that she was an old soul. The depth of emotions in such a new life was surreal. 
A few hours after we arrived, Delaney fell asleep on the hubs’ chest. 
So sweet… <3 
As we left my sister’s home that day… we felt so lucky that we could spend those hours together. Little did we know… that day was the only time we would have with the sweet, bright baby girl we knew. 
That phenomenal day left a baby-sized handprint on my heart I will always carry with me, just like the day I experienced connecting with my baby nephew 8 1/2 years ago. 
3 weeks later, Delaney went into cardiac arrest due to three (two undetected) defects in her heart and suffered massive brain damage
After 10 days in the NICU, Delaney was released from the hospital and placed on home-care hospice. There was nothing more the hospital could do for my niece. Delaney could not suck, spit-up, swallow, see, hear… among so many other challenges. My sister & brother-in-law’s life changed dramatically.
We had no idea what the next week, month, or even the next day would bring… but my little niece didn’t give up without a fight. In light of my sister & brother-in-law calling each other by their first initials, I started calling my niece “Tenacious D“. Yes, I’m a big fan of the band… but my niece fit this nickname so perfectly, it was indeed a Tribute in more ways that one. 
Over the next 8 months, my niece taught us just how extraordinary the gift of tenacity could be… as well as the importance of:
love
health
patience
strength
empathy
kindness
peace
friendship 
family
community
and embracing every moment of life we have with our whole heart. 
Yesterday afternoon, our little Tenacious D’s fight on earth ended… 
As tragic as this situation is, Delaney touched the lives of so many people over her short life. I truly believe that my niece has been given the most radiant wings as she is greeted by angels, young & old I already know are in heaven.
My little Tenacious D will always remain a part of my soul and in my heart. Delaney’s life will be a constant reminder to embrace my own children as well as the people I love: family, old friends, new friends and even people I never would’ve known without my niece… a little tighter. 
I hope my niece’s short life can inspire you to do the same. 
Peace.

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