Friends, family gather on difficult anniversary
Often in life, we encounter challenges so heart wrenching and unexplainable that they are difficult to put into words.
And so it was last week, when about 100 family members and friends gathered in the bitter cold to remember and pay tribute to Olivia Hayden Moore on what would have been her first birthday.
Olivia is the late daughter of James and Priscilla Moore, a couple who have seen more than their share of difficulties and challenges since marrying eight years ago.
James, 31, a first lieutenant who has served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, grew up in Brownsburg and graduated from Brownsburg High; Priscilla, 27, was raised in Wayne Township and graduated from Covenant Christian.
Both have numerous family and friends in the area, although the couple have bounced around to various locations due to James' military career in the U.S. Army.
But their story didn't really become tragic until seven years ago when Priscilla became pregnant and 21 weeks later learned that their first child, who they named Jacob, died in the womb in September 2003. Despite the devastating loss, the couple tried again and suffered a miscarriage about eight weeks into their second pregnancy in 2006.
The Moores considered adoption and filled out the forms when they learned of the pregnancy of Olivia in 2009.
"I just remember it providing new hope for both of us," Priscilla recalled. "We thought this one was it because the pregnancy was such a surprise."
But at 37 weeks, tragedy struck again. It began when Priscilla couldn't feel much movement. By the next day, she called her doctor's office and scheduled a test. The doctor couldn't find a heartbeat and determined Olivia had unexpectedly and inexplicably died.
The doctor went over the options -- induce immediately or wait. But with James still overseas in Afghanistan that complicated an otherwise easy decision. So, Priscilla asked her doctor to wait until James could return to the U.S., so that he could hold his daughter. That finally occurred four days later on Dec. 14, 2009.
As the one-year anniversary approached, James and Priscilla learned that they wouldn't be able to get away from out-of-state military commitments to be at Olivia's grave in the Brownsburg Cemetery. So she asked her mother, Julie Stewart, to organize a balloon release at the cemetery at the corner of Ind. 267 and East 56th Street in Olivia's honor.
Stewart agreed and began calling family friends, church friends and other acquaintances, and on Dec. 14 about 100 people gathered for the balloon launch.
After the Pastor Jim Littlejohn of Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg shared a few Bible verses, those in attendance released green-and-brown balloons matching the colors of the dress Olivia was supposed to go home in but instead was buried in.
"I didn't expect it to be so big, but we wanted something since we couldn't be there," Priscilla said. "I just thought it was a nice way to honor this day, and I will be waiting in my hotel room down here for the pictures and video."
She and James had their own balloon release in honor of Olivia the previous weekend on a South Carolina beach and shared cake Dec. 14, when James returned late from his military training.
Since Liv, as Priscilla calls her, wouldn't be there to celebrate the occasion by smearing cake all over her face, they wanted to have a cake together in her honor, she explained.
"You know, people who have never been through this just can't understand why you can't get over it," Priscilla said. "But it is all a part of the grieving process. That first year is always the hardest, but we will always think about her, and though she and my other babies won't ever be around, they will always be a part of us.
"Today (Dec. 14) is a little easier because we are pregnant again. There is hope out there even though after Liv we didn't think there was any."