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 daphnejanegainer.blogspot.com. 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.