Friday, August 31, 2012

Give a Little, Get a Lot: Free Heart Party Download

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 18 months since Daphne passed away. I still miss her every day. I look at this photo—the only one that comes close to capturing the radiance of her spirit—and I think how sad it is that so few people got to experience her light in person. I have no doubt that she is very busy in the spirit world, fulfilling the mission God has called her to serve. For my part, I feel obligated to carry her light into the world and do as much good as I possibly can.

Because of Daphne, I found a new “family” of heart moms—brave, humble mothers called as guardians for great spirits born with broken hearts. It’s for these incredible women and their children that I support the American Heart Association, whose funding for pediatric cardiac research is second only to the federal government’s.

One way I support the AHA is by participating in my local Heart Walk and raising money specifically for pediatric research and programs. (Learn more about the Moms with Heart program.)

My fundraising goal for this year is $2,500. It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s a great cause. Did you know that 1 in 100 babies is born with a CHD? That’s a lot of children and families who benefit from ongoing pediatric research. You can help these children by making a donation today! Here’s how:

Option 1: Donate $25 through my official Heart Walk webpage. This is the smallest donation accepted online by the AHA.

Option 2: If you can’t give $25, please make a smaller donation via PayPal to Every dollar makes a difference—$2, $5, $10, whatever you can give.

As a thank you for your donation, please download this free heart party designed in honor of Daphne by my friend Shasta Knight from Sassy Dean.

The party includes alphabet and heart pennants for a banner, six different cupcake wrappers, and fill-in-the-blank notecards for a baby shower, bridal shower, birthday, or other happy gathering.
Heart moms, use this party to celebrate your heart hero's birthday, homecoming, operation anniversary, angel anniversary, or other special day.

Please share the link to this free party download with everyone you know. Link to it on Pinterest. Share Daphne’s story, and help me reach my fundraising goal so that other heart babies will live longer, fuller lives.

Thank you for your support!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Is Risen . . . and She Will Rise Again!

It’s 11:00 p.m. on the eve of Easter. For me, the hour is significant. It represents the moment on March 18, 2011, when my beautiful Daphne left her earthly body and returned to her heavenly home.

As Easter morning approaches, my thoughts are turned to my Savior and His earthly ministry. I marvel at the miracles He performed and the faith of those He healed. I think of the woman with an issue of blood, who knew that if she could just touch Christ’s robe she could be made whole (Matthew 9:20-22). I think of Jarius, who knew that Christ had the power to raise his daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18). These faithful disciples understood Christ’s divine role as the Savior of the world. They believed that He was the Son of God and that He had the power He claimed to have.

When we had Daphne with us, the Spirit confirmed to me many times that Christ had the power to heal her broken heart—to perform a miracle that would shock the modern world. I prayed and prayed for that miracle. I wanted to be as faithful as Christ’s disciples in the New Testament, worthy of His divine intervention. The night Daphne passed—when I knew I would not get the miracle I had been seeking—I felt the Spirit remind me again that Christ could mend a broken heart. This time, I knew the Spirit was talking about my broken heart. Daphne’s was already whole.

Over the last year, I’ve turned to my Savior again and again, calling upon the power of the Atonement to help me overcome feelings of sorrow, loneliness, and guilt. I’ve begged Him to hold me in my darkest moments, and I’ve asked Him to fill my heart with hope and charity. There have been many difficult days when my arms have ached for my daughter, when I’ve felt as if the longing would swallow me up. But every day has also been filled with gratitude, joy, and humility, as I’ve remembered Daphne’s incredible radiance and wisdom. What an honor to be called as the mother of such a strong, faithful spirit!

As I anticipate the glory of Easter morning, I ponder the gift of the Atonement, which provides a way for me to repent and be reconciled with God. Without this marvelous gift, I would never be worthy to return to God’s presence. Instead, I would be eternally separated from my bright-eyed angel, who has already received a place in God’s kingdom.

But repentance is not the only purpose or blessing of the Atonement. The Atonement is an enabling power. It can heal any wound, restoring that which seems beyond repair. It makes it possible to endure and overcome all things.

When Daphne passed away, I thought my heart would never feel whole again. But I underestimated the power of the Atonement. When I began my journey with grief, I asked the Savior to help me find my way. Little by little, as I’ve called upon the power of the Atonement, I’ve felt the broken pieces of my heart reform into something stronger and more durable.

In this new heart, there is a special place for Daphne. It is a warm, sensitive spot, where I hold all my memories of her. It is also where I carry my grief. Grief is not the enemy I imagined at first. It is a quiet reminder that I have a child waiting for me on the other side. It is an outlet for sorrow and an inlet for joy. When I envisioned a healed heart, I imagined I would have to give up missing my daughter. But I am only mortal, and even with my knowledge of the gospel, it is impossible not to feel her absence. My Savior understands this, and He has made room in my healed heart for the complex emotions of grief. My heart is starting to feel whole again, because my Savior has bound it up and made it strong enough to endure the separation.

This Easter, I will celebrate the Resurrection with increased gratitude. I will envision an empty tomb and rejoice, for He is risen! My Savior lives! And because He lives, I know that my sweet Daphne will also live again.

One day, she and I will be together again—our hearts made whole through the Atonement, our reunion made possible through the Resurrection. We will kneel before our Savior, hearts overflowing with gratitude and love. This is my testimony. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Five Months Apart

Daphne passed away five months ago, today. On these monthly anniversaries, 11:00 p.m. is the hardest hour for me to face. It marks the time when part of my heart left the earth, and I became a different person. Over the last five months, I’ve tried to reclaim the woman I was before Daphne’s passing, but it’s impossible. It’s hard to explain how I’m different. I suppose I’m both better and worse.

I used to be a perfectionist, giving 110 percent to every aspect of my life, but I seem to have lost the focus and drive I once had. Most things just don’t seem important enough to warrant that kind of sacrifice or commitment. I can still give 110 percent, but I won’t give it to just anything. I’m more selective about how I spend my time, and I’m better at knowing when 90 percent is good enough. (I mean, is it really necessary to scrub the counters three times before declaring them clean?) Sometimes this makes me better at prioritizing and putting the most important things first, but sometimes it makes me stand in the middle of a room, feeling lost and unmotivated. I’m grateful that my priorities have shifted, but I miss being a little OCD. I miss feeling put together and on top of my life, and I miss the satisfaction of going the extra mile. You’d think I could just decide to go back to my old ways, but it’s not that simple. I’m not that person anymore.

I’ve always been a compassionate person, sensitive to others’ sorrows, but now I finally understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. Before I lost Daphne, I mourned with those who mourned and comforted those who stood in need of comfort, but I didn’t really know grief. I didn’t understand its complexity or its permanence. Now when I hear about other tragedies and trials, it opens the wound in my heart. I weep for the individuals who are suffering and for my own loss. I remember the darkest moments of my life, and I wish I could wrap my arms around the bereaved and shield them from the long road ahead. Healing and peace will come, and grief will become a soft whisper, but it will never leave, and their world will never be the same. Knowing that is as heart-rending for me as that first, fresh pain.

Losing Daphne has made me more empathetic and more charitable, but I’m ashamed to admit it has also made me more selfish. I want everyone to love and miss her as much as I do, but each new tragedy reminds me that isn’t possible. For me, the pain of losing Daphne is still fresh, but for everyone else, new sorrows have pushed her story into the world’s collective past. I know family and friends still love her and think of her—a dear friend visited her grave just last week—but it isn’t the same for them. Of course, it can’t be, just as my grief for others isn’t the same as my grief for Daphne. I guess I’ve been running from grief by trying to make Daphne’s life powerful and inspiring for others, as if that will make her death more bearable. But it won’t. My baby has left this world, and I feel her absence even though I know she is happy and safe.

I have to remember that Daphne’s life mattered to me and it mattered to God. And that is enough. Anything else I do with her story or her name must be done in the name of the Savior. I think Daphne would want it to be about His life, not just hers. Perhaps that is how I will recapture myself.

In Loving Memory: Bows for AL Babies

After Daphne passed away, I needed a way to think about her without focusing on my grief. I wanted to remember the blessings and miracles and ignore the unanswerable questions that made me feel weak, guilty, and ungrateful. I wanted to do something to honor her memory, thank the doctors and nurses who cared for her, and comfort other moms with sick babies.

The week after Daphne’s funeral, I began making small, handmade hair bows to send to UAB hospital in Alabama. With the help of several friends, I made 350 ribbon bows and 100 mini felt flowers (inspired by felt flowers I saw on the blog Make It and Love It), which I divided into 50 packages. Finishing this project took longer than expected, because we adopted Phoebe just one month after losing Daphne, but I finally shipped the bows to UAB with a lengthy thank you note and a request that they distribute the bows to other moms staying in the RNICU.

Working on the bows was therapeutic. It gave me an excuse to think of Daphne and a way to share her story—something I feel compelled to do. I hope those who receive the bows will feel a small measure of comfort from my simple offering.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

58 Days

58 days. An entire lifetime for my little girl.

On Sunday, we passed day 58 again, and today is day 60.

I don’t count every day that Daphne is gone, but I have been anticipating this moment for a while: my daughter has been gone longer than she was here. And every 58 days, from now to eternity, I’ll live another lifetime without her.

Since Daphne’s passing, I’ve been trying to find ways to hold on to her, to keep her story alive:

·      I spent two weeks putting together a family photo collage for my living room, when I’ve never been one to put holes in my walls.

·      I’ve been working on packages of baby bows to send to UAB hospital, where Daphne spent half of her lifetime.

·      I’ve been slowly working on an idea for a foundation inspired by our experience with Daphne.

·      On the very day we adopted Phoebe, I attended a luncheon for heart moms, hosted by Intermountain Healing Hearts. I just wanted to feel part of that community, even though I won’t experience a fraction of what many of those amazing moms have as they’ve cared for their sweet heart babies year after year. I have plans to get more involved with this organization in the future.

·      On Mother’s Day, I shared Daphne’s story with a room full of young women and their moms. A friend at our adoption agency invited me to visit her ward and share some of my spiritual experiences related to Daphne’s adoption and heart condition. To some people, this seemed like a cruel thing to have to do on my first Mother’s Day without Daphne, but for me, it was a blessing to have an excuse to focus on her. I love talking about her and sharing her story.

I think about my angel every day. But I try not to wonder what we would be doing if she were here, because that was never God’s plan. Instead, I try to imagine what she is doing on the other side—what she looks like, who she is with, the missionary work she is doing. I think about what she would want me to be doing here. Sometimes this helps; sometimes it doesn’t.

One of my deepest sorrows is that we haven’t been able to complete Daphne’s sealing yet. The final adoption paperwork is lost in the court system, and it seems to be taking forever. I had really hoped to be sealed before day 58. Please pray that everything will go through soon. I’m anxious to have our family bound together for eternity.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Power of the Comforter

Daphne passed away exactly six weeks ago, today.

Some might call Daphne’s story a tragedy, because we worked so hard to find her and then we lost her long before we were ready to say goodbye. But I think of her story as a miracle, and I don’t want there to be any confusion about that.

In her premortal life, Daphne chose Heavenly Father’s plan. She wanted to come to earth, receive a body, and experience mortal life. She wanted to have a family. She knew that her mortal body would be imperfect and that she would enter this world alone. But she loved God, and she trusted Him.

God knew Daphne’s life would be brief, but because of her faith, He gave her a special calling to heal the broken heart of her mourning mother, to bring her family closer to God and to each other, and to show the world that no life, however short, is wasted in God’s eyes.

In just two months, Daphne experienced a lifetime of pain and joy. Living with just half a heart, she spent all but three days of her life either in the hospital or on supplemental oxygen. She endured three extended hospital stays, two surgeries, one heart catheterization, and countless needle pricks, blood draws, and other tests. But she was always a mild, content baby, who never cried without just cause. When I held her or looked into her eyes, I couldn’t help but marvel at the radiance of her spirit. Although her body was small, her spirit was clearly much wiser and more mature than mine. When I held her, I felt calm and hopeful, and I knew that I could trust God.

When Will and I chose to heed the promptings of the Spirit and adopt Daphne, I thought to myself, “If the Lord went to all this trouble to bring us together, surely He means to preserve her life and let us keep her for many years. Surely, He won’t take her away too soon.” I was hopeful that the Lord would perform a miracle—that He would help Daphne overcome the odds and live an exceptionally long life. But in my heart, I knew that this was not the miracle God intended to perform. He meant to perform a much greater miracle—to create an eternal family, a family that would survive beyond this life, a family that would not be broken by death.

Our family was blessed to have Daphne here on earth for two incredible months, and during that time, we felt an outpouring of the Spirit stronger than we had ever known. When Daphne passed away, our hearts ached and our arms felt empty. We mourned for the time we would have to spend apart. We grieved because we would not see her face for a while. For us, the separation would be long, but for her, the separation would be brief.

Even in our grief, we felt the peaceful reassurance of the Spirit carrying us from one moment to the next. I expected to be a miserable mess, unable to get on with my life, but the Spirit buoyed me up, and I found that I felt calm, peaceful, and comforted. I still trusted God, and I still knew He loved me. I had been taught that the Spirit was also called the Comforter, but I had never understood how powerful that comfort could be. The Spirit did not take away my sorrow or stop my tears—I would not have wanted that—but it gave me courage and hope. It reminded me not to give up and whispered that the best way to honor Daphne’s life would be to live well, serve others, trust in my testimony of the gospel, and find ways to share Daphne’s story.

Don’t misunderstand: my grief is profound. I am a 27-year-old woman who sleeps with her absent daughter’s blanket. I think about her every day, and I imagine what it would be like to have her with me at this very moment. Since the funeral, there have been many difficult moments: the moment I stumbled on her formula cooler in my mother’s refrigerator, the moment I realized our fish would outlive my daughter, the moment I realized I would never get to make Daphne a birthday cake. But the worst moment was when I could no longer imagine Daphne’s exact weight in my arms. I could see myself holding her and remember what it felt like emotionally, but I couldn’t remember the physical sensation. And I knew that I would never get that feeling back. I could hold an object or a baby that was exactly her weight, but it would never be the same.

There are so many memories of Daphne that I haven’t shared yet, and there are also new stories about our family that need to be told. For some reason, I don’t feel comfortable going forward with new stories on this blog without finishing Daphne’s story. But Daphne’s story will be a work in progress for a long time to come, so I’ve decided to start a separate blog where I can reflect on Daphne’s life, share my grief, bear my testimony, and reminisce about my bright-eyed heart baby. The new blog will give me a place to collect random thoughts about Daphne. This blog will continue to focus on my entire family, including Daphne. Separating these two parts of my life will allow me to keep Daphne’s story alive, while also allowing me to press forward, as I know Daphne and my Heavenly Father want me to do.

If you're interested in keeping up with Daphne's story, you can visit There’s nothing there right now, but there will be soon.

Thanks for all your love and support. We could not have made it through the last six weeks without our wonderful family and friends.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Brief, Beautiful Life

Daphne Jane Gainer, my bright-eyed beauty, returned to her Heavenly Father at 11:00 p.m. last night after undergoing a 7.5-hour open-heart surgery. I miss her desperately, and my heart feels heavy with grief. But I believe she is safe in the arms of loved ones on the other side, and her heart is whole now. She filled her earthly mission, and now she is with our Savior. Pray for our family. Right now, we need courage.

Daphne's Funeral Services
Funeral services for Daphne Jane Gainer will be held on Tuesday, March 22, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. at the HH8 Ward chapel (2101 N Providence Dr., Saratoga Springs, UT 84045). A public viewing will be held before the service from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Following the service, Daphne will be interred at Larkin Sunset Gardens Cemetery (1950 E 10600 S, Sandy, UT 84092). All who wish to help us say goodbye to our sweet girl are welcome to attend.