Share your personal story of The Children’s Park

Almost every Monday I leave my Rotary meeting at the Women’s Building and turn south going down Broadway. Today, for absolutely no known reason I drove across Broadway and into the parking lot of the Children’s Park. I wondered if any flowers were in bloom. There were several cars there already and adults and children in the park. Through my rear view mirror I noticed a van across the parking lot, where two children and a mother were standing. The mother was carefully dividing a bouquet of flowers between the two small children (maybe four and five years old). Mother was holding a third child in her arms. I just sat in my Escape and watched as they went down into the park. She stopped to read several signs and then they walked to the west side of the circle path around the girl statue. There the children stopped to place their flowers and then they all stood quietly listening to their mother. Perhaps she was praying, or just remembering. After a few minutes they all walked on around the circle and the children skipped and ran to a spot to play. I was so moved by the moment that even now as I write this I need a Kleenex. I drove away wondering why they put the flowers there and not at the cemetery – and I realize that even as I write this that there are many possible answers to my question. The best part of all this was that the children were able to have a moment to honor the memory of a lost loved one and then go on to play, because after all that is what children do best – and the job that God has given them to do. Today I saw a complete picture of the Children’s Park. Today I felt the Children’s Park and what it must mean to so many. I’m so thankful I was given the opportunity and gift of being a part of it coming to fruition. God is very good.- Dawn

In 1951, my grandmother gave birth to her third child, a baby girl born with spina bifida. Six weeks later, the baby died. When I first heard about the Children’s Park, I thought, “What a special place for people who have lost a child.” Then I realized that it wasn’t just for those who had recently lost a child. So, for Christmas 2004, my grandmother’s children and grandchildren gave her an engraved sidewalk stone at the Children’s Park , to honor the memory of her baby who died 53 years before. It is the most meaningful gift we could ever give her. She later told me that she had always wanted to find a way to publicly remember Baby Jill, in some way, other than the gravestone at the cemetery. After the stone was placed, I took my grandmother to the Children’s Park to see it. It was the first time she had ever been there. She said that, when she was attending Hogg Junior High School in the late 1930’s, she never would have dreamed that the “hole in the ground” just to the north of the school would someday become such a meaningful place to her.- Luci
I just want to thank you all for the creation of the Children’s Park. My husband and I visited a couple of weeks ago and found it to be a peaceful place in which we could remember and honor children. Thank you.
The Children’s Park meaning to me is very complicated. It is a meaning of life and death. It is a meaning of a beginning and a end. It is a meaning of a happiness and sadness. I always go to the park with my son and still to young to know the true meaning himself he is just a child when he there. And watching him be a child is exactly what the park is for me. I remember the life of my child that is no longer here and others children, and thank God we have somewhere so beautiful for all the world come to remember children not with us anymore. I think the park means different things to everyone and maybe that is the way it should be. It should mean to you what it needs to mean to you.
Working with people who’ve lost a child, I’m often asked how long it takes to heal… Recently my mother-in-law asked me to “celebrate” Zack’s 21st birthday with her and my two sister-in-laws with a visit to his grave in Colleyville and a “girls” weekend. I was hurt when asked because I could rarely recall, if ever, discussing Zack with my sister-in-laws, and seldom with my mother-in-law. I was also offended because to me a girls weekend of fun and frolic didn’t involve anything that celebrated Zack’s life. Having moved away from Tyler, we have not had the opportunity to visit the new Children’s Park except through the website. We were recently in Tyler and got our first opportunity to visit. I invited my mother-in-law along thinking I would share with her how I felt about celebrating Zack’s birthday. She didn’t know where we were going and was surprised when we rolled into the parking lot. She thought the park had been built with funds raised by the school children across the street. As we began our stroll I told her we were going to visit Zack and began to tell her the story of the park and Glory Babies. You see, we’d mentioned our involvement in Glory Babies to them and had invited them to previous annual remembrance walks with what we’d perceived as not much interest on their part. But as we talked, I realized because they’d not asked much about it, we failed to share with them completely what Glory Babies truly meant to us. As we walked along and read the children’s names and marveled at the butterflies that Saturday, we ended up shedding some tears and sharing a lot of things left unsaid over the last 21 years. Things not said, not necessarily because no one cared, but because no one knew how to begin. As we left the park, we each had received long withheld healing and a new plan for celebrating Zack’s birthday. Craig’s family would represent Zack at the Walk the first weekend in October. Having never been to one of Glory Babies remembrance walks, I know that Craig’s family will celebrate Zack’s life in a way they never expected and receive a blessing far greater than a visit to a tombstone and a “girls” weekend could ever bring them. As we walked up the incline to the parking lot I had the eeriest feeling. As I turned back towards the park I heard children’s laughter on the wind that quietly blew through the park, the patter of their feet as they splashed through the water and their giggles in the flutter of the butterflies wings and I realized that you never completely heal from losing a child, you just find new ways to “hold” your child. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecc 3:1- Pam Davis
I was married to a handsome Marine when I was twenty. We had great plans and dreamed of having a big family. After five years of trying, we adopted our daughter, who was two. She was precious and I loved being her mom, so I gave up the dream of having a large family. In my late twentys , I became very ill with weight loss, and headaches. I also stopped having my periods. I was very afraid, so I saw my doctor who referred me to an endocrinologist. I was diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism and scheduled for surgery . The doctor said that I might be able to get pregnant, now. I laughed and said that was probably not going to happen. After about a year, I missed a period and felt sick , so a month later, I saw my doctor and low & behold, I was pregnant. We were elated , however at three months I began bleeding and lost the pregnancy. I was still hopeful, but couldn’t understand why, what was so easy for some women, was so hard for me. I had another miscarriage and when I was thirty-two, I was pregnant again. My doctor ordered me to bed for the first trimester and on March 27, 1981, I gave birth to a birth to a beautiful baby boy. Our daughter was so happy to have a little brother and called him her baby. They were close and we were a happy family. When my son was five, I became pregnant again. I was hopeful and every- thing seemed to go well, until the middle of the seventh month. I awoke with spotting and a low back pain, so called my doctor. He wasn’t overly concerned, and said to rest and call him if it got worse. A few hours the pain worsened, so I went to his office and he admitted me to the hospital. My baby girl was born June 11, 1986. I wanted to hold her right away, but the pediatrician said she wasn’t breathing just right, so needed an incubator. I was worried, but felt that she would be fine. God wouldn’t let anything happen to her. Later that evening she was flown to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock Arkansas, because her lungs were not working properly. Still I felt that she was in good hands, and made plans to follow her, as soon my ob doctor released me, so I could be with her. I spoke with her doctor in the Neo Natal unit of the hospital and felt encouraged. Just after l:30 am on June 13, my little girl passed away. I was heartbroken. As we made arrangements to bury her, pick out a little casket and a little gown, my anger began to build. I was so mad and blamed God for taking her away from me. During this period, I could see only my grief. I couldn’t think about my husband’s or my children’s gri ef, and I refused to speak to God. I remember, one particular day shaking my fist at the sky and asking Him, “Why” why would he give her to me only to take her away? About six months later, I was working as a store manager for a chain of women’s stores, I was outside taking a break and an older gentleman spoke with me. He asked me if I was alright, because I looked so unhappy. I broke down and told this stranger everything. I told him about my little girl and how she had been so loved and wanted. He said to me, so I hear about your grief and your unhappiness, but what about her? Don’t you know that she happy with her father in heaven. Her life is fulfilled and she will never know pain or suffering or anything like that. Be glad for her. My heart felt lighter and my anger disappeared almost right away. I think that man was sent by God to help me see that life is not what we want, but what He has planned for us. My marriage did not survive, and my husband and I divorced. I moved to Tyler in 1989 and raised my children. In 2006, I met Michael Ferguson and fell in love. After a month, he asked me to marry him, but I wanted to wait for 6 months to be sure. We chose October 7 and planned to marry in the Rose Gardens. Well, October is Rose Festival, so every time we chose was booked. We thought about the Women’s Bldg, but we still wanted an outdoor wedding. We were driving down Broadway and decided to stop at a little place called The Children’s Park. It had not occurred to us to consider that little park as a venue for our wedding. I called the city and we made plans, and on Saturday Oct. 7, 2006, we were married. After our wedding, we visited the park often. I found out about the Day of Rememberance, and now my children, grandchildren and husband make that a special day to remember Lisa Michele. We go and hang a little angel on tree, and release our butterflies and thank God that we had her for a little while.- Dottie