On Grief and Gratitude

I wonder if the full moon has anything to do with my inability to sleep. The past few nights I lay awake, thinking and thinking.

I’ve had insomnia before during stressful periods in my life – I think we all get it. It is a chronic condition these days, but unlike my past experiences not being able to sleep, this time I feel like listening to it. I know that this, too, will pass.

So, under the dim light of a partially-covered-by-cloud full moon, I write.

I’m using the title of my friend Robin’s blog, as I can’t think of a more appropriate way to sum up how we are feeling.

We are consumed by grief. We function, even laugh out loud and make silly jokes, but every minute of every day seems to be filled with our loss of Hannah. I burst into tears, just thinking of her sweet hand, or remembering a fond moment that was so simple – the everyday things for a parent. We all do. Wes said to Grandma Marilyn yesterday afternoon, “I just wish I could see Hannah.” Oh Wes, I am so with you.

Easter yesterday was especially hard. We stayed home, and had such a nice time talking and being with our neighbors. Hannah’s passing has opened the opportunity to be vulnerable in more new ways – with those we don’t know but who live around us. And the wonderful weather and egg hunts brought everyone outside. The same questions we’ll face our entire lives came again. What if Hannah could be with us, not sick? What would she be doing, with her now 17-month-old self? Would she be one of the runners, who goes fast after the shiny eggs? Or would she have been a wanderer, getting focused on the pretty flowers growing in a clump next to an egg? Would she have worn her sweet flowered dress, with a new clip in her hair? Would she have loved the taste of a Peep or more like her brother, focusing only on chocolate? We will never know. And it breaks our hearts.

It is such a dichotomy – this pull between grief and gratitude.

We are still so overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we felt at Hannah’s memorial on Saturday. From the moment we stole glimpses out the window before the ceremony started, of the cars circling the parking lot for places to park, and the fire and Medic One trucks shiny and powerful – we were in awe that our sweet Hannah could bring so many people together from every part of our collective lives.

We are grateful for each person that joined us – and know that between me and Greg, we only spoke with perhaps 1/3 of you. We can’t wait to see the video and read the memory book – more opportunities over time to take in the evening. [on a side note – if you took photos from the evening, could you at your convenience email them to me? We’d love to see you celebrating with us.] We truly thank you for being in our lives, showing up for this moment (even by a card or email if you couldn’t be here in person), and reaching out to us over the coming days, weeks and months as we figure out what our lives look like in this next chapter.

As I’m sitting here, I can hear an Airlift Northwest helicopter pass overhead. We sometimes hear and see them making their way to Children’s Hospital. My heart goes out to the family that in enduring what we know feels like the most excruciating pain. That uncertainty of facing your child’s illness, and not knowing. Not being in control. And yet life does go on, just as everyone says.

I will be making a few more posts on both the website and Caring Bridge tonight. These will be the eulogies written by the doctors we have grown to love over Hannah’s short life. We were blown away by their capacity to try and heal our baby, and equally moved by their capacity to care for us in the process. Their words touched our hearts – and will forever be a part of our daughter’s legacy. Thank you to them and each person that helped us create the exact memorial that we had hoped for to honor our sweet baby Hannah.

I’ll be wrapping up Caring Bridge in the next day or two. I have a great impetus – they are offering the option of creating a book with all of the journal entries, photos, and guestbook write ups. So, by the end of the day on Tuesday, it all goes to print to be forever placed on paper. If you would like to add a message to us – please sign the caring bridge guest book one last time on the guestbook link if you are on CB now, or at www.caringbridge.org/visit/hannahmcnutt. And thank you for all of the wonderful words throughout the past year and a half. I’ll continue to write on www.allysonbrown.com, and you can make comments there and sign up to follow that blog by filling out the email address section on the right. No spam, I promise!

One final note on this entry tonight. Our benches are happening and they are now funded! Thank you for the outpouring of gifts to the Hannah McNutt Memorial Fund. We have raised enough money online and in person to cover the cost of the benches, and the photo attached on this post is the plaque that will be in the bench at Rockaway Beach Park on Bainbridge Island in the next few weeks. Discovery Park will be coming shortly with the same message. These are definitely in honor of Sweet Baby Hannah, but I hope that you know that they are also in honor of you. Thank you. Any funds collected above the bench costs will be used to support organizations that meant so much to us, including Soulumination – the non-profit that took those amazing photos of our family that we have used again and again to tell our story.

Grief and Gratitude. Yep, we are there with you and we get it.

Hannah McNutt Memorial – Jonna Clark Eulogy

Hannah McNutt Memorial – Mark Lo Eulogy

Hannah McNutt Memorial – Sharon McDaniel Euology

Hannah McNutt Memorial – Alexa Craig Euology

Words for Hannah – Janet Smith Euology

Celebration of Hannahs Life – Final Char Barrett


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On Grief and Gratitude

  1. Martha DeMar says:

    Greg and Allyson,

    Carol told me about Hannah last week. I’m so very heartbroken for you. I also am amazed at your wisdom and your capacity to share your journey on this blog. I know from having lost loved ones that grief has a mind and a timetable of its own. It sounds like you are honoring and surrendering to the process. Bless you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *