The Lenhart Family

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lessons from Hope~ Heaven's newest angel baby

my sister had an amazing gift for written communication so I wanted to share a final update on Hope that she wrote.....

I apologize for the delay in getting out an update on Hope. It has taken me over 48 hours to be able to find the words. Sadly, I am learning that even for me (an inherent communicator), there are times when words do not come easy. I wanted to make my last update about Hope perfect...I wanted it to inspire, to encourage, and to fully encapsulate the spirit of our little princess warrior. But now I realize that there are no words that will ever do that little girl justice. No words can ever tell the story of how much she meant to her family (most of whom she never met); how many lives she impacted in the three short weeks she spent in a children's hospital in Michigan; and how long-lasting and significant we know her gifts to us will remain.

On Sunday, March 22, Hope was resting in the arms of her two grandma's in her hospital room while her mommy, daddy, and little brother Jonah were back at the hotel taking a nap. Without warning, she started turning blue and unfortunately not even a team of the country's most skilled doctors for this condition were able to save her life. Obviously, there is heartbreak . But what there is not is anger. Maybe it will come, as I know that grief manifests itself in strange ways. However, Hope's parents are choosing to focus on her legacy, knowing that there was a reason that God chose this path for her and only in time will that answer be revealed.

Tomorrow Aaron and Sara will meet with a team of doctors to "debrief". On Thursday there will be a memorial service in Michigan so that they can celebrate Hope's life with people who they've just recently met, yet have been their rock during this time in their lives. They will make long drive back to Kansas over the weekend and a memorial will be held in Wichita on Thursday. The tentative plan is for them to fly out to Seattle on Friday for Hope's burial service. After much deliberation, Aaron and Sara have decided to have Hope buried in Washington. It has always been their intention to move out to the Pacific Northwest, therefore they have decided to lay their daughter to rest here. Me, Scott, and the kids plan on taking a little field trip on Saturday across the Sound to the Hood Canal to seek out a tranquil and beautiful spot for our niece and cousin. Selfishly, I am comforted with the knowledge that Hope will be put to rest so close to us. I have visions of me and the kids planting flowers at her grave and singing her "Somewhere Out There"...a song that I used to sing to Aaron all the time when we were kids. I know that we never were able to meet her in the physical sense, but being trusted with such an awesome responsibility will be something that we will forever cherish. (Jake and I are also attempting to make arrangements to fly out to Seattle with Aaron and Sara so that our small tight knit family can stay goodbye together and celebrate the beauty of the Hope's life)

Over the last few days, we have experienced moments of God's grace illustrated in various ways: The joy of a two-year-old big brother who until now had been unable to even touch his baby sister, now being able to kiss all over her cheeks; the innocent candor of Sam who during his prayers on Sunday night said, "Dear God, Please help my baby cousin Hope to have FUN tonight in heaven!"; the healing that comes from laughing with a friend about her grandfather and Hope meeting in heaven and watching college hoops this weekend, with the strict instruction from me that under no circumstances is the North Carolina fan Papa to persuade Hope to stray from her Jayhawk roots (remember sweet Hope, Roy is evil :)). It is in these moments that strength is gained and clarity defined.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and words of encouragement over the last few months. I speak without reservation when I say that Aaron and Sara have been so lifted up by everyone's support. I am going to close with words from an email that Sara sent last Friday night after her and Aaron had went to dinner to celebrate their 5-year-anniversary. After enduring hospital cafeteria food for the last few weeks, Aaron wanted to get out of the hospital and enjoy a nice dinner. Imagine their surprise when nearly their entire meal was comped after the manager and owner learned the reason that they were in Michigan. Sara ended her story about their evening with the following paragraph.

We left amazed by yet another day that we were overwhelmingly blessed and cared for by God. I have never felt less control over my life nor more taken care of. Every single day we are reminded that He has not left us, such grace we have seen on our lives since we've been here. I think every day of my life has been filled with them but I had failed to acknowledge them until these days when I have no choice but to hope in them. We then went to the hospital to thank Hope for opening our eyes to a loving Father.

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