When words really feel empty…

Saturday, May 12, 2012: the world lost a shining, smiley baby and heaven gained a goofy grin and the chubbiest cheeks you could ever want to NOM on. My hero baby, Ainsley Laura Knepper, passed away after an almost 17 month long battle with illness at Akron Children’s Hospital. She is the reason I have cried off and on for weeks now, the topic of my conversations with God for the past 16 months, and the reason I believe in the inherent good and innocence of others. Her infectious smile, her light, and her energy will never, ever be forgotten by those of us she changed. I’ve said it once, and I will say it until forever: Ainsley Knepper changed my life, and I never got to kiss her sweet cheeks… I will forever be grateful to her parents for sharing her with us all. You can read about her at  http://www.jennepper.com/2012/05/peace-for-ainsley.html. *Give yourself about an hour and a half and read through her whole blog… it’s ridiculously good and it shows Jen’s strength through humor, and Ainsley’s absolute zest for life**

My heart hurts. It hurt to breathe for a few days. I cannot begin to imagine what her parents are going through. I have discovered through conversations with others exactly why this hurts me so. And it’s not because I met her, or hugged her, or ever got to nibble those cheeks. It’s because it isn’t fair. This family has experienced more loss in 17 months than one could really reasonably be expected to bear. It’s because it could have been my child. Ainsley was only 3 weeks(ish) older than my Ellery. And this hurts me so deeply; deeper than I ever thought it could. I don’t understand how this family can deal with all of it. Sometimes I would look at my phone and see her looking up at me because Jen would randomly send me her picture. Then, I would send her one of Ellery. We’d share quick stories about our little girls…and laugh over their growth and overall ridiculousness. They would have been good friends, I’d like to think…

We were pregnant at the same time, and I vividly remember calling Jen the day she found out she was having twins. She had a doctor’s appointment and I texted her to see what they’d said. She texted back that she was having twins and I called her. I couldn’t believe she’d answered; I don’t think we had ever talked on the phone before that. And I remember I was outside in my front yard and I was so happy.. it was a warm, early summer day and I was so relieved that this amazing woman who had struggled with infertility was getting the chance to have two more beautiful babies. Our due dates were close together, but she assured me she’d have hers before mine, since they took twins early. Little did we know…

I watched, with the world it seemed, as she went through the struggles with being pregnant with twins. And I prayed for those babies, and for her, all the time. Late in her pregnancy, I took her and her husband Subway for dinner. And I just remember that with everything going on (bedrest, twin illnesses, a toddler running around) that she had this light… this energy. We talked pregnancy for a bit, and I left. I knew that she was going to be okay. And I thanked God for being with her and keeping her healthy, through all of the struggles with the girls…

Then, the worst thing happened at the same time the best thing happened. Evelyn was born a sleeping angel, and Ainsley was born, not well, but alive. She spent a little more than 16 months in the hospital, battling illness and breathing issues with the biggest smile on her face. Nothing could keep that baby down. She had the energy and light I saw from her Momma while she was pregnant. The pictures daily on Facebook, and occasionally to my phone, would keep me smiling. She made me laugh out loud. I’d share her stories and pictures with my family. We all watched as her mom and dad shared her triumphs, her missteps, and her milestones with us all. It was like watching a miracle…

God knows I love a little girl I never met so much. It hurts to breathe just talking about it… I just ache. Ache ache ache. Ainsley is my hero. And she always will be. She changed my life, touched my heart, and I will never be the same. The world will never be the same. I can only hope that the future is boring for Jen and her family. She is set to deliver another beautiful baby girl in two weeks and I could not be happier for her. I hope the new baby inherits the fire and light from Ainsley. I hope that this baby knows exactly how much she is loved and cared for, as we care for her whole family. Olivia, their three year old, has got to be so confused and hurting right now; I cannot imagine what this feels like for any of them…

There was a memorial for her tonight, and for her twin sister, Evelyn, who was born sleeping. And it was probably the saddest thing I have ever attended. What do you say at that point? Words don’t do anything that I felt inside justice. All I could do is watch a slideshow video of her pictures and weep. And see her sister’s pictures alongside hers and feel my heart aching. I had no words. Nothing seemed to make sense to say aloud. So, I couldn’t say much at all…

We celebrate their lives. We’ve all blown bubbles for the girls and I had a balloon release at my grad party on Saturday night. It was all so beautiful and a wonderful way to celebrate the innocence of life. Two lives gone far too soon, yet so profoundly awesome in their impact on others…

Ainsley Laura Knepper. Everyone’s Little Meatball. My Hero.#Love4Ainsley.

I hope you know how much you are loved and missed.
I look forward to seeing you again..
And I WILL NomNom on those cheeks… Just letting you know.

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