Jan 24, 2017  That smile

Hello my love.

It’s been a while since I last wrote. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to write about, I was just trying to avoid the pain. It’s been dark, so dark the last few weeks. Winter, cold, snow, holidays…my spirit suffered tremendously. I didn’t want to do anything except sleep. I even thought my faith was failing there for a second.

Psa 42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation

Yes, why?  I mean, I know why, I am so down, but why Am I not finding reprieve in the hopes and promises that anchored my spirit a few weeks ago? I don’t really know, but it helped me out just thinking about why God put that verse in there.

I prayed about it. I don’t remember the specific words, but it was something like, “this is too big for me. Nothing seems to help. I’ll wait for you to bring me out of this…”

Well, my love, a light was lit this Thursday and my spirits were truly lifted when I first saw your little sister, Hannah Claire.  She looks a lot like you. So beautiful.


My spirits were lifted further Friday when Sissy let me know she had just been offered admission to one of her favorite colleges. I was so overwhelmed, I escaped to the bathroom and let the joyful tears flow. I thought to myself, “How can I be so happy without you?” It wasn’t guilt, or regret I felt. I just thought it was impossible to feel that way again, especially now. I see God’s great mercy in the timing of everything. My spirits boosted just enough to carry me through the next two days.

I try my best to tell myself that tomorrow is just one more day standing between you and I, and it too, shall pass. It won’t be easy, it still hurts so much.  I knew it would always hurt, but I’m amazed at just how much it still hurts. I’ll do my best not to dwell and stay focused on taking care of Hannah.

As for the 26th, your birthday, that will be different. I will be sad, I will cry, there’s no avoiding that. But I will find a way to celebrate the great blessing you are to me, remembering your life here and envisioning the day when my eyes open to see the Lord Jesus because I know the very next face I see will be yours.  And every single second we were apart just won’t matter anymore. No more tears. No more death. No more suffering.

 

Right now, Hannah is resting in my arms and I can’t help but look at your picture over the fireplace and feel like that gentle smile is meant just for us in this moment. 

For those that read this, I have a request for Clara’s birthday. Could you please tell me something you love, remember or miss about Clara? It doesn’t have to be much. Katy and I would really enjoy reading them.  Comment here, facebook or send us an email to iloveclaraquinn@gmail.com if you want it to stay private.  Thank you all for reading. God bless. 

I love you Clara. I miss you so much.

Daddy

 

 

Luke Phillips Katy Phillips Clara Phillips
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43 thoughts on “Jan 24, 2017  That smile

  1. Dana

    I have never met Clara or you and your wife. I ask Bethany and Cheryl about you. You all have been on my mind with Clara anniversary and Birthday on the way.

    For your pictures and all your writing she seemed like a very special little girl . I am so happy for the birth of Hannah Claire. She’s your angel baby. May God Bless all of you!

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  2. Megan

    I asked Sydney and this is what she said: “How generous, caring, kind, sweet, helpful, beautiful, silly, never mean, always by my side and never hurting my feelings and I miss playing with her and having sleepovers with her. She was my best friend in the whole wide world.”

    I miss knowing she was such a good influence on Sydney. I miss her sweet, “Hi, Sydney’s mom!” that she would say to me at daycare pick up. I remember thinking how fast of a runner she was when she spent the night and the kids were all playing outside in the morning.

    -Megan

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  3. Deborah Morin

    Aunt Mary and Grandmother Jo are friends of mine. I knew Amy as a very young child. Many hearts broke when Clara died. Luke your writings have changed many. It made me realize my need to renew my faith in God. I’ve thought of you all numerous times this past year. The exciting news of another baby was proof blessings happen. I’m sorry I never knew Clara while she was here but feel happy knowing what a special girl she was. She truly blessed her family. Enjoy Hannah for she will heal the holes in your hearts.

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  4. Karen Smith

    I do not know your family but learned about your situation through a friend. I started praying that GOD would help you the minute I heard about it. I am so thankful that GOD gave you this precious blessing (Hannah). It makes my heart so happy. I have felt like I knew your family because my heart hurt so much for you. I know you may not be able to see or feel it…but I can tell you are healing from your writings. I will continue to pray for your family and know some day it will be a little easier and I know for sure that GOD will always carry you and your precious family.
    Karen
    1/24/17

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    1. brennen9247com

      I remember how Clara could be silly just like her Mama. The memory of her that sticks in my head the most was when Brennen was so facinated by her at Amy ‘ wedding. He chased her around all night and you were right behind them the entire time. I also remember Caleb, Brennen and Clara playing together on Jo’s bed. I was so happy too see our children playing together as Katy, Amy and I did when we were young. I will never stop praying for you. Hannah is a wonderful beautiful blessing just like Clara. May God bless you and give you comfort during these times.

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  5. Rhonda Tackett

    Luke and Katy,
    Hannah is a beautiful baby. I am over the moon happy for y’all!! Your letters to Clara are such an inspiration to me and I am sure to everyone that reads them. Wish you all much peace and happiness.
    Rhonda Tackett
    (Jo’s friend in Clarksville)

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  6. Jenn M

    Luke and Katy,
    I know this week must be even harder than the last 51. You have been in my thoughts over the past year, but really trying to lift you up in thoughts and prayer this week. Even in this dark, I was happy to read a bit of a lighter tone in your post today and I hope that your new light in Hannah continues to bring you joy, hope, and more healing. Just like Clara, Hannah is so lucky to have you as her parents.
    I think I may have only physically met Clara once when she was a baby and I was working with Katy, but I know she was such a cute, loving, special little girl through all of Katy’s pictures and stories. Her light continues to shine through you and so many others that loved her and she will continue on to touch so many of us even though she is no longer physically with us.

    Jenn M.

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  7. Elaine

    Luke and Katy,
    First of all congratulations! When I saw the picture of Hannah she took my breath away. So beautiful, just like her sister Clara. I have never met you or Clara, but I wish I had known her. Then again I feel I do a little bit from your beautiful writings to her. From the day I first heard, I have never stopped praying for you both. Sometimes a God does that, he places people on our hearts so we will pray for them. From everything you have written about Clara I know she is a special little girl. So sweet. I was ready to send you a note to tell you tomorrow and Thursday I will be praying some extra prayers and thinking about you. And again, baby Hannah is a beautiful blessing.

    Take care and God bless!❤

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  8. Beth

    Oh my goodness congratulations on the birth of your baby daughter Hannah. I do not know you both, but I feel I know Clara by reading your post. Clara and God brought you a blessing for sure. Clara is smiling down and saying, “Mommy and daddy love Hannah like you love me”. Congratulations for sissy also for getting ready to enter the next step of her life. Live, laugh and love mom and dad, you have a lot going for you right now! Clara wants you to remember her, but she wants you to remember the good times you had and continue to live. She will always be with you in spirit. Happy early birthday Clara and thank you for bringing sunshine back into mommy and daddy’s life.
    Beth

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  9. BarbaraH

    Luke and Katy,
    Congratulations on the arrival of beautiful Hannah. What a beautiful blessing. She looks so much like your precious Clara. You have been on my mind a lot this week. There really are no words of comfort. I just pray for you and your family that by the grace of God you find some comfort. I met Clara twice. She was always so happy and was always smiling. She just lit up the room…or I should say Wegman’s. She truly is a beautiful Angel. Congrats to Sissy. Very exciting news. Happy Birthday precious Clara. Look over and protect your precious family. God bless you all. xo

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  10. Melissa Mixon

    In honor of Clara,

    I never knew Clara in person, but I got to know her through facebook over the years. (I went to high school with Katy). I can tell you I love her smile and how much her parents love her and that hair!!! Wow she has some awesome hair. She is loved by so many. I want you to know I think of Clara often, which leads to prayers for her surviving family! There is a picture Katy posted with her eyes crossed, in the bath tub. You can tell she is full of spunk, joy and life just from that one picture. When I think of her; that picture is who I think of. I hope this little paragraph brings a moment of happiness (even if it is fleeting). God Bless,
    Melissa Mixon

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  11. Tina Harkness

    Congrats on your beautiful, precious little girl! I will be thinking of your family this week for Clara’s birthday. ❤

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  12. Diane Jones

    I knew Clara through the frequent posts of her Nana Jo Jo Godin, who was my high school classmate. Seeing the joyful posts of your smiling little girl was like seeing sunshine!
    It was obvious that your little girl was so loved by you, her parents, and her extended family and those of us who had the privilege to meet her on Facebook.
    I will never forget reading that her life had ended in such a tragic event. My heart hurts as I imagine the pain you have experienced and feel each and every day.
    Thank you sharing your messages to your sweet angel with us on your blog.
    And I wish nothing but the best for your new little Angel Hannah who was sent to you by her big sister. I wish peace and comfort and healing.

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  13. Kari

    Dear Luke and Katy: I’ve never met either of you. However, I live in Carroll County and I remember hearing about the tragic news last year. Shortly after a friend on FB shared your blog and ever since I’ve been following your journey. I have a daughter, Brooke who reminds me so much of your sweet Clara. Her birthday is 1/23, a few days before and the same year. I’ve noticed in some pictures the same clothes, and the stories you share are all to familiar. On days where Brooke kind of pushes me to my limits I think of you guys and remember to be thankful, even for the hard times. Precious Hannah, she is beyond beautiful. I wish you and your family so much happiness with Clara looking over all of you!

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  14. April Grant

    One of my favorite memories of Clara was so simple and yet so pure to me. We were in Damascus at lee and Beth’s plantations II house. All the cousins were playing, yelling and screaming. Enjoying each other’s company to the fullest. All adults went outside for a bit and I hung out inside with the kids. Clara sat herself on the edge of the steps and staired off into the distance. I sat next to her and asked her what she was thinking about. She shrugged and said “just thinking”. So I sat there with her for a while in silence. Then she said “my mommy laughed really hard this morning. I made funny faces to make her laugh. I can be pretty funny you know.” I said “did you like your mommy laughing?” She replied “yesss! I want to do it again. I need something funny to do.” I said “I like to laugh too.” She smiled and made a goofy face. I giggled. Then one of the cousins raced down the steps and swept her away to play a game.

    Clara took a moment out of playing and in her moment of rest, thought of ways to make her mommy laugh. The thoughtfulness and love that filled her little heart was quite impressive.

    It seemed like such a simple moment at the time. But now I carry the memory and other memories of Clara like precious cargo. Careful to not lose them as time passes.
    Love you two and Clara.
    In my heart forever!

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  15. Millie Crespo

    You all are always in my prayers i have Clara’s picture on a little table next to my mothers picture and from time to time I light a candle and pray for both of them I know she will always be in your hearts and in your thoughts as my mother is in mine you now have a beautiful little blessing who will not take her place but will bring you a little joy back into your lives…Clara was always such a happy little girl I can’t ever remember her giving me any problems…she only gave mom and dad problems when it was time to go home from day care running around so mom and dad can chase her I remember how she wanted mom and dad to stay a little longer to play in the playground it was a pleasure seeing the wonderful parents you are you were both so patient with her and showed her so much love I always admired you both as parents the love you gave her made her this wonderful loving, funny and friendly child…I called her Clara bear because that’s how I thought of her this little cuddly bear….she always let me do her hair in class French braids but once she hit the playground that was it braid gone she enjoyed playing with her friends as much as they enjoyed playing with her as teachers you always create special bonds with a couple of kids she was one of them when it was time for her to move to the older class I was a little sad to see her leave but we always kept in touch I loved the hugs she gave me before she went home it’s safe to say I did spoil her in my class lol I been having her in my thoughts this week and praying for her and your family she was loved by you and so many other people where she is right now she is doing what she does best being her loving self and playing with the other little angels and most importantly our God…Hannah is so beautiful congratulations she is a lucky little baby to have the parents she has…sending you lots of love and hugs always Ms. Millie❤️

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  16. Dianne

    I’m crying tears of joy for your precious little baby; I’m crying tears of sadness for you for your unspeakable loss. I’ve thought of you all often over the past few weeks. I pray for your strength and your peace. I know you all are well loved by everyone in your lives; I just want to send my love, though a stranger, to add to that and I’m asking God again to be near to you and to hold you in His arms at this time and always. God Bless and thank you for your beautiful post.

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  17. buckwheatbane

    Dearest Katy and Luke,
    First and foremost in my mind will always be how much happiness Clara brought into your lives…forever changed in only the ways a parent can understand…you’ve been so present in my heart and mind, particularly in this last week…and here you are, wrapping your arms around a tiny miracle of hope and love…congratulations on the healthy arrival of beautiful Hannah…wishing you strength and joy in new beginnings, and in remembering..

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  18. Beth D

    Congratulations on your beautiful daughter and congratulations to Sissy! I know it must be very hard to have your heart split I pray that you will find a way to take one step forward each day and enjoy the blessings you have and mourn the one taken from you. My heart is heavy for you but the love you all share will get you through. Clara will always be remembered – a beautiful soul is never forgotten and you will find a way to share her life with Hannah. She will be with you always. So when Hannah does something really funny or kind, look up and say “I see you Clara” and smile. Congratulations to all of you. I wish you peace.

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  19. Kristen Friedladn

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife and the rest of your family this week. I can only imagine how difficult it is, but may it help to know that so many others are thinking of you. I never met your precious daughter, Clara, but I can see how amazing she was. She will never be forgotten. I know that you will see her light and her joy in your beautiful new baby girl. And congratulations to your older daughter for her admittance to the college that she chose. May she love the path that she is on! Praying for all of you!

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  20. Cheryl

    Congrats to you both on the gift of your beautiful hannah!!! I continue to pray for your families and your beautiful angel above!!!!
    She attended my son’s elementary school and I’ve followed your story’s since…may God continue to help you through your days!!!
    Thank you for sharing and inspiring!!!

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  21. Jen Tennant Harvilak

    I didn’t personally know your beautiful Clara, but she inspires me. I love how she keeps me coming back to this journal, almost as if she speaks to all of us…telling us that life is worth living, to count our blessings, to look out at the world and know that death is not the end. To see this angels face, one just KNOWS that death is not the end…that there is no way that a life could just cease to be, without having something after. Her eyes, in the pictures that you post, reach out and say, “Don’t worry…there is so much to look forward to, even when you have troubles, loss, pain.” There is a playfulness in the feelings she invokes. I don’t sense sadness, only love. I had a miscarriage in 2005, and it is a loss that I never fully get over, but there is a part of me that just knows that these babies who leave too soon are not gone. I picture your Clara very close to you, holding your hands, smiling at you, encouraging you, encouraging us all. Thank you Clara, for touching my life with your story…a story that will go on and on…one that I will never forget as long as I live. And if you see my Andybear somewhere…give him a kiss for me, please.

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  22. Chet

    I remember the great time I had with Clara at her craft birthday party. Her pure joy, love and happiness is something my scared soul can never experience this side of eternity. Look forward to seeing her again. Love Dad

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  23. Lindsay

    I am a stranger to your family. I used to feel as though I was peeking into your life and your pain, and then going back to my world, and maybe that wasn’t right. I don’t really feel like that anymore. I have followed your journey over the past year and you have kept Clara alive right here on these virtual pages. I never met her in person, but I have met her through you and this blog. It is a beautiful tribute and I am here now because I know what an emotional week this is for you, and I knew you would be here writing about it. I am so glad you are, and I am beyond happy for you and your family over the birth of Hannah! Thank you for your touching words. Yes, it was your suffering and your heart typed out for all to see, but it was a tribute…a beautiful beautiful tribute. Happy Birthday in heaven, Clara.

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  24. goldilaks

    I have never met your family… my aunt is friends with Jo Jo because they worked together. She she shared your story with me last January because I too have a young daughter. But I must tell you, your writing has brought Clara to life for me and I’m sure for many people who never actually met her. From what you have shared, she is clearly full of light and joy. Her mischievous smile, full of goofy intent is what I enjoy most.

    I have also read your posts, tears in my eyes, full of heartbreak for you and full of fear over the what-ifs in life and felt selfish. Because I get to walk away and hug my daughter and leave you to your pain and there is nothing I can do to ease it for you and Katy, no right words that will really make a difference. But I do hope in some small way you’ve found an extended family here, people who will not tire of hearing your stories, who will help you keep her beautiful spirit alive and present.

    Congratulations on your little blessing Hannah. And a Happy Birthday always to big sister Clara!

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  25. Karen

    Happy birthday Clara! Luke and Katy, I didn’t have the privilege of meeting Clara but I saw her growing up through pictures on Facebook over the years. Clara seemed like such a wonderful child! She had a beautiful smile that radiated joy and happiness and her eyes were full of kindness and love. No doubt she could light up a room! In particular I remember a picture of her cuddling a dog (that looked very similar to the dog our family had at the time)- Clara looked so sweet and they both appeared happy to share their company. It brightened my day. Thank you for continuing to share your story, your struggles, and your joys. Praying you all find comfort and happiness in celebrating Clara’s life, today and every day.

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  26. Sarah

    One of my favorite memories of sweet Clara was the day I took that picture of her from the top of your post. Katy, Clara, Miss Suzanne, Miss Salimah, and I met up for lunch at the Avenue in White Marsh, and after lunch we were walking around shopping. We stopped by the fountains and I asked Clara if she wanted to make a wish. She nodded excitedly and thus began a delightful game where she would run to me for pennies and then run back to the fountain and fling them into the water. I was impressed at what a great arm she had! That girl must’ve thrown about 40 or 50 pennies into the fountain, and every time she did so with such gusto. As I began to run out of coins and it was almost time to go, I asked her if she would make some wishes for me. She seemed particularly excited by this, like she had a real mission! I never asked her what she wished for, but I knew those wishes for me were laced with the magic that can only come from a little girl’s heart. That was a day I will never forget 💜💜

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  27. Beth H

    Dear Luke and Katy,

    I was an assistant in Mrs. Estes class last year. I had the pleasure of sitting with Clara’s group everyday. She was always so confident and it showed the first day she came to the classroom. I watched as she reassured Luke that she would be fine in her new school. Clara was better than fine. She was outgoing and welcomed by all. I would always say she was wise beyond her years. She and I use to sound out words together. Most of the time, she would have the whole sentence written before we were done sounding out the 2nd word of the sentence. She also excelled in Math. Her classmates called her “The Math Magician”. She loved to draw every chance she would get. She would have to create something everyday to take home to show both of you. Her artwork was colorful and very detailed especially for a 5 year old. My Little Pony and rainbow drawings were some of her favorites. Her beautiful smile glowed when talking about her family and her dog. She was loved very much and it showed. I am thankful I got to know her even if it was only for a little while. The memories of your bright, fun loving daughter will always be remembered.

    Happy Birthday Clara and May God Bless All of You ~
    Beth H

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  28. Kim MacMaster

    Dear Luke and Family,

    My Daughter Lily rode the bus with Clara and I remember Lily coming home and excitedly telling me about the CUTEST little girl who just started riding the bus. Lily would fill me in on all the bus antics between Clara and Colton. Clara would sneak into the seat behind Colton and pull the straps on his backpack just to annoy him. Ya gotta admire a girl who gives it to the boys , right ? I wish I had gotten the chance to meet Clara, she was quite a character, I believe? Lily really liked Clara, somehow drawn to Her by some shining inner “light” or something, as it seems many were. Clara made such an impact in the few years the world was gifted with her. I am so so happy that you and your wife were blessed with Hannah.

    God Bless,
    Kim MacMaster

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  29. Elaine

    Hi Luke and Katy. I was thinking of you both and baby Hannah. How is she doing? Praying all is well with the three of you.

    Take care and God bless.❤️

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  30. Elaine

    Thinking of you and Katie and Hannah. Praying you have a blessed Christmas! As January approaches, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
    God bless you and have a wonderful New Year!

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