The Adella Project

On April 19th, 2013, I got a call from my sister. I expected a normal conversation. I expected some question or some common chit chat, although it had been a while since I had heard too much from her. We were having our version of a family reunion in a few days, on my dad’s 50th birthday. It just so happens, it’s my sister’s birthday, too.  Plush she was just over halfway done with her pregnancy and she was so excited to be pregnant, she had a habit of rubbing it in just a little too much. But as I answered the phone, there wasn’t a hello.


“We lost Adella.”


you can’t imagine how much that sentence changed and humbled me. And I’m just an outsider! A sister, yes, but the pain only splashes onto me because it drowns my sister. Just that sentence – three words, and yet there is unimaginable heartache for those involved. How hard it must have been to say. They had had a doctor’s appointment earlier that morning. At the appointment, the doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat. That had to be the most terrifying moment of my sister’s life. They ran all the tests just to confirm her worst fears. Adella was no longer living. And hadn’t been for a while, though no one knows how long.

The next few days were a whirlwind. The family reunion turned into a vigil outside my sister’s hospital room. And a funeral in the local funeral home. The funeral home dedicated so much time and expense, so she didn’t have to pay much, and all of the remaining balance, my grandma donated.

She had waited an extra day to grieve, and so that she didn’t have to share a birthday with something so painful, though one day is still close enough to turn a birthday black, so Adella was born April 22, 2013. The story is hers to tell, and I don’t know how ready she is, even 3 years later. I’ll invite her to write something, but if she’s not ready, I respect that.

When my mom got the call from my sister, she was in the middle of sewing something for this newest grandbaby. She especially likes sewing clothes for little girls, and it had been 8 years since she had gotten to sew for a girl (the rest of the cousins are boys). She was eager to spoil this granddaughter. When she talked to my sister, the pink outfit she was working on suddenly was tarnished and gray. Instead, she dug through her fabric and found white.  Burial white. As she was cutting out the tiny outfit – so tiny that she had to use a doll pattern – she thought and thought about all the other mothers out there. Just like my mom. She thought of all the mothers that couldn’t expect any clothes that would fit their little ones. You can’t find clothes that small in a store. How do those mothers clothe their babies? I think in that instance, all of the frustration over projects that didn’t come out like she wanted or that needed to be done in the wee hours to meet her self-appointed deadline, and all of the time learning to sew suddenly took on new meaning to her. How blessed she felt to have the ability to sew that night! But what about the other mothers?

And so, right then, the Adella Project was formed. The Adella Project isn’t anything official. It’s just my mom’s way to help. And she’s gotten the rest of us in on it. I confess that I don’t do much to help. And neither do the rest of the siblings. Adella’s mommy still struggles with it, and that’s okay. It’s not her way to grieve or remember. It’s Grandma’s. And we all know that that it is Grandma’s way to heal. To love our niece and daughter, and her granddaughter. A way to shower her with gifts. She will know that though we give them to other little babies, they’re made for her. And I think that’s why Mom does it.

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