Screen shot 2014-11-07 at 3.51.30 PMHappy 1st Birthday to Vivian’s little sister, Iris!

Iris’s sweet little life has been a healing balm for her family. She is a gift from God and from the heart of Vivian, who knew her parents needed little Iris.

To celebrate this special day, let’s look back on Maria Dunlap’s reflections on the birth of Iris. The post below originally appeared on Maria’s blog, “God is Here!”, which chronicled her and Rod’s journey with Vivian.

“Thanksgiving 2013”

By: Maria Dunlap

The Human Heart is the strongest muscle in the body.  It keeps our bodies living, and houses our soul.  I find it ironic that it is perhaps the easiest muscle to “break”, and perhaps the hardest to heal.  But these tears and healings have the ability to make it even stronger.

This post it officially my last post to this blog.  I know I haven’t written in quite some time, but I just couldn’t.  Not because there weren’t things moving in my soul, but because I didn’t have words, and talking about Vivi’s little sister, Iris, on her blog wasn’t ok.  This space is sacred to me, and is devoted to her.  But in the past few weeks, my heart has experienced healing I didn’t expect, and I’ve finally felt ready to finish here what I have started.

November 7, 2013, my world changed…and the hole left in my heart that I thought was healed, truly filled with a new love I couldn’t have expected. November 7, Iris Gianna, Vivian’s little sister was welcomed into this world.  She came in a hot hurry–I woke up at 7, we left for the hospital shortly after, and she was here at 11 am.

Screen shot 2014-11-07 at 3.59.42 PMMany emotions surrounded these moments…had been hovering around the entire pregnancy.  A client helped me coin my emotions “optimistic hesitation”.  How can I not be excited for a baby?  But, how could I not think about loosing my baby? Thank God I was puking and not able to relax before I received the epidural, because these thoughts weren’t a part of me in the Labor and Delivery room, until the moment for her to come was upon us.  My doctor walks in, by himself, checks me, and says, “she’s right there!  Ready?” Was I ready? But more importantly, I was wondering where everyone was–the nurses, the doctors–Vivi came into this world with quite the audience. And here we were, ready to bring this new life into the world without the “scene”.  After about 5 minutes, and 3 pushes, Iris was here.

Something happened as she was laid on my chest–there was no hurry to whisk her away, there was no ‘exhale’ when she started breathing, there was NO RUSH…I suddenly had no fear, no reservations to loving my new baby girl.  In those sacred first moments with Iris on my chest and Rod at my side, I felt Vivi so strongly present with us.  There had been this emptiness within me–not because Vivi was gone.  I miss her, I wish she was here, but the emptiness was more because I didn’t get to live with her in the life I imagined. But here, laying on my chest was her twin (kinda creepy!)…and my new chance to love in a way that I would never be able to without loving Vivian.  My lost sense of sincerity and joy was found again in this strange piece that was needed back in my heart.  This piece (and peace) is not a replacement, not a ‘band-aid’, but necessary for my moving on and true healing as a mom, a wife, and a friend.

Iris Gianna 4

Today, on this beautiful holiday set aside for us to give thanks, I am so thankful–I am blessed.  I am blessed with an amazing husband.  I am blessed with two beautiful daughters.  I am blessed with an amazing grace of faith.  I am blessed with an awesome family. I am blessed with beautiful, true-blue, one of a kind, blessed-if-you-find-one-EVER friends. (I have a couple!) But most importantly today, I am thankful and feel so blessed for healing. For me, the unexpected gifts, are the most meaningful.

Thank you for being a part of our journey–of Vivian’s story.  As I have said many times since she has died, it is just the beginning.  We are  blessed to be beginning Vivian’s Victory–our own non-profit to help families who are experiencing some (and more) of what we experienced.  Please follow us on Facebook for updates as we start this journey–we absolutely want you as part of it! The start of VV is a story within itself, one that will be shared on its blog, as soon as we get it up and running…hopefully in January!

May your today be especially full of love and blessings, and again thank you for being with us along this journey. 🙂

Iris Gianna 5