On Sunday, August 11, 2013, I drove from Georgetown to Lexington Texas to join friends and family to remember my daughter and their friend, Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy. As I was driving to Lexington on FM 112 many memories flooded my mind. It had been a long time since I had returned to the small town where my children grew up. Off in the distance were dark clouds and I asked Elizabeth to ask God to send us rain and a rainbow. As you recall, rainbows are a “godwink” for me since we received so many after Elizabeth and the boys left us.
Several of her classmates joined us and many of the parents, teachers and my Lexington friends were there. When I walked in, I recognized the music that was playing…….Leslie Shirlberg Allman took my 30 worship songs that I had wrote about on the blog and burned them to a CD and gave a copy to everyone. We took a class picture of those that attended and their children. It was such a blessing to see these girls grow into amazing women! It was great seeing them as moms, meeting their children and hearing about their jobs and dreams. And of course there was the amazing food!
Amanda Bexley and the LHS 2005 classmates were so deliberate and thoughtful in their planning of the event. There was a “memory jar” for folks to write their favorite memory of Elizabeth. I couldn’t wait to get home and read the memory notes! Here is one of them that touched my heart and made me smile:
I shared some thoughts about my journey over the past year and what it has taught me, and others shared how July 30th had changed their life. Cindy Bexley brought a pitcher of dimes that have shown up in unusual places over the past year and how they had come to represent precious memories of Elizabeth. And then there were tears…….but not tears of sadness. You see, I have come to realize that tears express more than sadness. Sometimes we cry for joy and sometimes because we love and care deeply for someone. It was wonderful to share those emotions.
Elizabeth’s classmates then gave me a gift……an Origami Owl necklace! The charms inside are 4 hearts to represent Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes’ birthstone. There was a cross, a butterfly, and a heart with the words “In memory of”. There were charms of the two most precious names I have been honored to be called in this lifetime: Mom and Nana.
And then Nick and Brittney Shelly walked in. And in Brittney’s arm was her newly born baby that they named Elizabeth after my Elizabeth. And they let me hold her! She was so beautiful…..and my heart was so full, so incredibly full….I thought it was going to burst! I have come to believe that part of my broken heart is to allow something bigger to happen…..and holding Elizabeth Grace Shelly was one of those moments. I will treasure that moment throughout the rest of my days. I will also pray for her throughout my life and I know Elizabeth Anne is also watching over her. Nick Shelly who proclaimed that he was one of few words, shared that even though he was older than Elizabeth, they knew each other for their times that they ran on the cross country team. He shared that he always remembered Elizabeth’s laughter and how much she just found joy in everything. He shared that he hoped his baby girl would have that same joy. Please meet Elizabeth Grace Shelley……named after Elizabeth Anne Herro Dowdy!
And then there is Elizabeth Grace’s big sister Abigail…..Abby. What an infectious laugh and smile and those dimples!!!! When the Shelly’s got ready to leave she ran to me and gave me the biggest hug. It was the first time she had met me and yet it was so much more than a hug from a little girl. I felt as if the whole universe was hugging me at that moment.
As the sun was beginning to go down, Amanda Bexley had balloons that we wrote messages on and went outside and released them to the heavens.
And as people left, several came back to tell us there was a rainbow over the baseball fields!
My thanks to Staci Spence Retzlaff for the rainbow picture. When I heard about the rainbow, I just was beaming……because I knew who had sent it. It was her way of being with us all that day. Again, my heart was so full because we all had confirmation of what Elizabeth thought of us coming together to laugh, to cry and remember her and the boys!
My sincere thanks to Paula Hall who came and volunteered her time and talent to capture the event and provided these pictures. She didn’t know Elizabeth, but has followed her story and wanted to be there because of how her story has impacted her life.
Here is a picture of a rainbow that was sent to comfort our families almost one year ago:
Lastly, my thanks to Amanda Bexley and her family who did an amazing job pulling this together and providing us with a location. Her thoughtfulness and creativity was a blessing to me! Thank you for wanting to remember Elizabeth, honor me, and heal a scar on my heart. To the Kana’s, the Gists, Cindy Bexley, Shannon Patschke and family, Pat McKinley, Hailey and Blane Rodgers, Staci Spence Retzlaff, Jenna Dalen, Kelsey Thurman, Amanda Dube, Jennifer Richardson, Jackie Griffith, Jeanette Welch, Leslie Shirlberg Allman, my daughter Jennifer Pascar, Paula Hall, Nick/Brittney Shelley and Elizabeth Grace Shelley. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! You each share with me special memories on an amazing day that I will tuck away in my heart and recall with fondness.
Until next time,