Families honor loss, love at Naperville's Walk to Remember
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A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words.
Yet for all that value, there's one obvious failing: A photograph can't show what's missing.
If you go
What: A Walk to Remember
Why: Supports families who have lost babies during pregnancy or soon after birth; proceeds fund Edward Hospital's SHARE programs helping families cope with such loss
When: A memorial service begins at 9:30 a.m.; walk begins at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12
Where: From the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion west of Centennial Beach, 500 W. Jackson Ave., Naperville
Cost: Free, pledges encouraged
A family portrait can't show the baby who should be in his mother's arms, the growing girl who should be holding Daddy's hand. It can't portray the grief parents carry in their hearts when the baby they were dreaming of dies before he or she has a chance to live.
Parents who have lost a baby — through miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant death — say they often feel like someone is missing as the family moves forward, like someone is being left behind or forgotten. That's what makes A Walk to Remember so powerful.
In a memorial ceremony that opens the event, parents are presented with a white rose honoring their baby who died as the child's name is read aloud. Too often, the names go unsaid as well-meaning friends and family avoid discussing the death to spare the parents further pain. Hearing the baby's name spoken lets the parents acknowledge their emotions — both the love and the grief — and remember the fleeting moments with the baby who changed their life.
Following the ceremony, the walk steps off at 10:15 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in Naperville, bringing together several hundred families who know the grief of leaving the hospital without their babies in their arms.
Many of the families take part in Edward Hospital's SHARE programs, which offer support for parents who have lost babies during pregnancy or soon after birth. A Walk to Remember raises money for SHARE and for the Wings of Hope Angel Garden on the hospital campus, created in memory of babies lost.
For the parents who walk, their photo albums may show a smiling couple, perhaps other happy children. But they will never tell the family's full story. Today, four mothers taking part in this year's A Walk to Remember put their experiences of pregnancy and loss into words.
Teresa Marano's son Samuel was born just 26 weeks into her pregnancy. A warrior, he fought for 11 weeks to survive outside his mother's womb. Though he needed life support throughout his time in the NICU, Marano was overcome by the connection with her son. Read Teresa's story.
Dee Mack hadn't expected to hear she was pregnant with her eighth child but quickly warmed to the idea. Then, mid-pregnancy, doctors said her son wouldn't survive after birth. Still, she decided to carry the baby in hopes of helping others. Read Dee's story.
With a textbook first pregnancy, Kristin Salazar never anticipated she'd have trouble having a second child. After three miscarriages and accepting she would have only one child, she had a successful pregnancy that brought her a second son and hope for a third child. Read Kristin's story.
Rachel Tobin's family looks picture-perfect from the outside, with doting parents and a son. Yet she has experienced both a miscarriage and the death of a baby born too soon. She's formulated an answer to "Is he your first?" that honors the babies who came into her life before her son, Owen, arrived safely. Read Rachel's story.
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