Friday, October 4, 2013

Oliver Keller

We buried our baby this morning. His name is Oliver Keller.

The Diocese of Phoenix owns a beautiful cemetery and mortuary here in Gilbert, just down the road from us. Queen of Heaven has a burial program for miscarried and unborn babies, absolutely free of charge to the families. All of the babies are buried together in a beautiful spot beneath a beautiful statue of the Holy Family. Isn't that amazing?

I've never heard of a program like this anywhere else. Our doctor encouraged us to go through with the burial and I am so thankful that he did. It was such a wonderful gift. Queen of Heaven lets you plan the service, with no guidelines or rules, and encourages you to do whatever makes you and your family comfortable. We chose to spend some time with the baby under the shade of a big, old tree, as a family. We read a couple of scripture passages and then Ray carried Oliver in his tiny little casket to the place he is buried and placed him in the ground. Emmett helped to put some flowers in his grave and then we all helped to bury him.

It was such a gift. That's the recurring thought running through my head today. What a gift. My doctor and his staff have been such a gift to me during this time. The kind and gentle people at Queen of Heaven were such a gift to us during the planning process. The burial itself was a special gift that I will treasure forever. My husband and my little Emmett are gifts in my life that I've opened all over again because of this loss, and our sweet little Oliver is a gift for all of us.

I feel so blessed to have had him, growing in me, for a few short weeks. I learned so much from him, and I know that will continue. I loved him so much while I had him, and love him so much still.

One of the scriptures we read today was Psalm 118:17:
I shall not die, but live, and proclaim the works of the Lord.

I wrote a little letter to my Oliver today, to say aloud at his funeral service:

"Little Oliver,

My dad gave me that passage when I was so afraid of losing you. He told me to hold on to it, to make it my mantra, and I did. When he gave it to me we were talking about hope, still praying and hoping that I would carry you to full term and you would be born a healthy, perfect baby boy. But I think my dad knew that this scripture would help me if we lost you, too.

Even though your little body has died, I know that you live on in heaven with Jesus. And you do proclaim the works of the Lord, to me. You've given me a renewed Faith. You've given me new love and appreciation for your daddy and for Emmett, and everyone we love. I know God gave you to me, to care for you for a short time, and I know He is keeping you safe now, in heaven. I know you're waiting for me there, and because of that you have brought me closer to heaven. Your short little life has given me so much little Oliver.

I will always be your mama, I will always love you, and I will never forget you."

Until yesterday, I hadn't planned on sharing his name with anyone. I wanted it to be private, for only Ray and Emmett and I. I wanted to hold his little name in my heart, and only to hear it spoken in our home, within our family. And then yesterday I had to go to the office of Vital Records to obtain a fetal death certificate in order to bury the baby. I heard the woman who helped me say his name out loud. Oliver Keller. And I burst into tears. It hit me then that no one else would ever say his name. No one else will know about him unless I share his story with them. And so I decided not to keep him for myself, but to give his name away to all of you, so that you'll know it and remember him along with me.

After the burial we got to ride in a golf cart. So fun!

After the service we went across the street to a little pumpkin patch to let Emmett run around. He loved it and it was nice to be outside, watching him have fun. 
Aren't these two cuties just too much in their matching shirts??

It's a beautiful day here in Arizona. Another little gift from God. This afternoon we will celebrate the marriage of our friends. What a wonderful reminder that life moves on, so fast, and there is so much beauty in the world. I will cherish this morning forever.


  1. I'm so sorry for you & your families loss. I know Oliver will live forever in your hearts.
    “I’ll love you forever,
    I’ll like you for always,
    as long as I’m living
    my baby you’ll be.”

    1. Thank you MarieL! I love that book.

  2. Oh Anna Kate, this is so beautiful! Brought tears to my eyes thinking of your sweet little Oliver. I told my friend Elissa that she now walks with one foot on Earth and one foot in Heaven, the mother of a saint.

    1. That's true! What an amazing thought. It's hard sometimes to think of losing him as a blessing, but in that sense, it really is!

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Anna Kate. And for sharing his name. I'm honored to know his name, and it helps me to think of him more specifically. I noticed that your anniversary was only a few days after losing Oliver. That was true for us too. Celeste was born and went to heaven on February 12th, and our anniversary was the 13th. Maybe it's a little way God reminds you to cling to each other. I'm praying for all four of you.

    1. You're right! I hadn't thought of it that way. I did think that our anniversary came at a good time- it served as a reminder that we have to lean on each other, and it was good to celebrate everything we've been through together so far. It was also nice to focus on something good and beautiful in the midst of the sadness I was experiencing. God is so loving.

  4. What a blessing that your diocese has such a program. Ours does not and figuring out what to do with the remains of our baby (I miscarried in October) without having to pay the full amount for a casket and burial plot (which we can't afford) was an added stress we did not need in addition to the miscarriage. Thankfully our priest took care of it all, but I can't help but think that many people in our diocese probably don't have priests that can take care of it (or that will) and they have to help whatsoever. I had contacted the pro-life office and anyone else I could think of in the diocese and every single person said, "Sorry, I'll pray for you, but I can't help you."

    I'm so sorry for your loss. May the Lord bless you and your husband.

    1. It really was such a blessing to us in such a difficult time. I had never heard of this type of ministry. Our doctor told us about it and I was really struck by the kindness and generosity of the little cemetery that runs the program. It was really beautiful and made the whole experience of miscarriage a little bit easier, since we were able to give the baby a little funeral. It was such a blessing. I wish I knew how to spread the word to other diocese so that other cities will take up similar programs.

      I am so sorry that you had to go through your miscarriage. It's such a painful experience, I wish I could protect other mamas from having to go through it. I just hold on to the fact that my baby is in heaven waiting for us. I hope our little ones are friends!

      I will be praying for you!



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