Forever 9

Writing about Fiona is painful. Grief work is just that; work. Draining and exhausting, painful but necessary. Fiona would have turned 10 last month. She will remain 9 in all her last photos while her sisters and friends grow and change, leaving Fiona behind. Fiona will not experience puberty, a first kiss, adolescence, high school, college, dating, marriage, and the blessings of having her own children. She will be forever frozen in time, a child who still believed in the tooth fairy, Santa and leprechauns.

Fiona’s 9th birthday was a blessing, especially looking back as her final birthday. She turned 9 the day after Christmas, which we celebrated as a family with a dinner out at Ciao Mambo’s. But her “friend party” was in mid-December. She had a pool party at Granite, and invited 14 friends, and her little sister of course. She would have invited more kids, but 15 was the limit. Friends new and old had a great time swimming and eating donut holes, cheese, crackers and fruit (Fiona’s idea). After we sang happy birthday, I had each girl say how they knew Fiona and for how long they had been friends. It was very special and I know Fiona felt very loved and content with her friendships.



Last month, I felt a need to do something to celebrate Fiona and her dear friends whom she loved so much, who at age 9 and 10 are dealing with loss and death in ways that most children do not experience. Granite Fitness generously donated a party for Fiona’s classmates. The 4th grade class and Fiona’s friends were invited to play games, swim, and bring a toy for Toys for Tots in Fiona’s memory. The school’s gym teacher, Mrs. Reas, led fun games in the gym. Friends helped the party go smoothly by wrangling the kids between the gym and the pool, baking cupcakes and bringing macaroons, Fiona’s latest obsession. We handed out Eiffel tower keychain ornaments to each of her classmates. It was healing to my heart to see the kids having some fun on a cold, snowy weekend; they were all such a blessing in Fiona’s life. It was bittersweet to see how close they are now, knowing the reason is that one of them is missing, and they have done some grief work of their own together as a class.


There is so much Fiona will miss; to have her life cut short at age 9 will never make sense to me, and is so difficult to accept. Each time I watch a new children’s movie with Poppy, I think of Fiona missing it; would she have enjoyed this movie? The last movie she saw in the theater was Zootopia. I remember her sitting beside me in the theater, munching popcorn and eating candy. The first time we watched the movie at home, with Fiona gone, I wept and could not watch the rest. The lyrics Shakira sings as the small bunny enters the city, wide-eyed with wonder, made me think of Fiona.

I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
Till I reach the end
And then I’ll start again
No I won’t leave
I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail
I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
Till I reach the end
And then I’ll start again
No I won’t leave
I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail

Fiona was getting to that point in her life. She was more willing to try new things as she had made much progress with her fears and anxiety. She was playing soccer again, and was so excited to go to a week of church camp without mom or dad that summer. She was excited to perform in a small play with her Girl Scout troop. But instead of trying all these new things here on earth, she died. She entered the city of heaven, wide-eyed with wonder, where I hope she is trying things she never could have imagined.





One thought on “Forever 9

  1. That was a great thing to do with her class! I know a family here that lost a son and mom in a car crash (the boy was in my son’s Joe’s grade). I know the Grandparent’s of this boy started a toy box donation this Christmas in their names. Joe was not able to go, but a bunch of other boys met at Target and bought toys to put in the toy box (which was located at the Police Station) and then I didn’t hear exactly but then I think the Grandparents donate the toys somewhere. But I know from other parents that it was a good experience for the boys to do that and was a reminder of the boy that they knew.
    We were in Montana right after Christmas. I was hoping I could try to see you but our time was spent with our families and we didn’t have any time to see friends. This year Jon’s sister was also in town from Portland. That was nice, but more family to see. I was really hoping to see you. We may come this summer and would have a little more time.


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