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In Celebration of Life:
The Story of Little Sarah

by Laura Lankford

August 1990

Recently my husband, Steve, and I became parents. As with most new parents each new feat was as exciting as the first. The first time Sarah found her thumb, totally by accident, I was thrilled. The first time she opened her eyes and looked up into my face was even more exhilarating. We were astounded by how much we loved this new little addition to our family in such a short time. We were equally surprised at how painful that love could be. For our little girl was born at 24 and 1/2 weeks, 15 and 1/2 weeks early. She weighed a mere 1 pound and 8 ounces. The most optimistic of doctors didn't give her much of a chance of survival.

After having been through a miscarriage the summer before we never dreamed that my completely normal pregnancy would end in such a premature delivery. After all, we had already been through the pain of a lost child surely we wouldn't be forced to lose another. We resolved to enjoy our Little Sarah for each day the Lord left her with us and fervently hoped those days would keep adding up to a full, long, lifetime.

Our day by day resolve would be forgotten on those very good days and we would hope and dream of all the things we would be able to do with Sarah when we had her home. Steve imagined romping in the backyard with her. I imagined rocking her to sleep after breast feeding her. I looked forward to the time I would no longer have to pump my milk and freeze it for the day she would be ready to eat.

For her part, Sarah would try to hold onto our pinkies; which were much too big for her little hand to fully grasp. Her pretty, blue eyes would look for us when we talked to her. She would blow bubbles, some as big as quarters. Occasionally she would even try to cry when she was mad about something. No noise was made though because of the respirator tube but her face scrunched all up and you could see her little tongue curl as she tried to wail and her little legs would kick out in all directions.

There was so much joy in seeing her do such normal baby things considering her world was little like that of a full term, healthy newborn. Her time was spent in a plastic isolette that had portholes for us to reach through to touch Sarah. She was fed intravenously and constantly monitored. Her world was the hum of respirators and the beeps and buzzes of alarms. The only time she was held was to be transferred to the scale to be weighed. Oh, how we wanted to be able to hold and cuddle our little girl.

We were finally able to hold Sarah when she was about five weeks old. It was not, however, a totally joyous occasion. The reason we were allowed to hold her was because her health was failing and she wasn't expected to live but a few days longer. The thrill of diapering, dressing, and holding her was overshadowed by the knowledge that our worst fears were coming true. Little Sarah was going to be taken from us. The only comfort came from our assurance that she would go from our arms to those of Jesus.

Sarah's remaining days were filled with being held and cuddled. Not only were we allowed to hold her as much as we wanted but we were able to bring family and close friends in to also share in the joy of knowing Sarah. On Sarah's last day we took her out of the isollete and never put her back. Someone was holding her at all times. We didn't want our daughter to have any chance of dying in that plastic box by herself.

Sarah's last gift to us was being so aware on her last day. For more than 30 minutes she looked around and held our fingers and in her own way conveyed how much she loved us. She did that twice on that final day.

I am happy to say that when Sarah died she was being held by both of her parents. Sarah fought hard for the life she had rushed into but her place in heaven was ready and waiting. She slipped away listening to us tell her of our love for her. Our final gift to Sarah was to have the nurses remove the respirator in those last few minutes so that Sarah could know silence once in her life. Silence disturbed only by the voices of those who loved her most.

The privilege of knowing and loving Sarah is irreplaceable. Her memory will be with us until we are able to be together in heaven someday. Sarah's life was short but she touched many in those few days.

We will always mourn the loss of the little girl whose love filled our hearts to overflowing but we celebrate each and every minute that God enabled her to be with us. We celebrate Little Sarah's life.

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