On June 24th, we said goodbye to our baby girl Tavi Louise for the last time. Tavi was diagnosed with refratory seizures (seizures that do not respond to medication). She had suffered brain damage and she would not survive off of a ventilator. Our babygirl— who had been born very prematurely, but healthy, feisty, and full of life—would not make it.
We were destroyed, but are now learning to accept having a child in who lives spirit.
A couple of days before Tavi passed away, Vickie had received a sign in a meditation that Tavi's spirit was a tiny purple butterfly, "telling" her psychically that she was ready to go. My wife is a very rational person, so this was very uncharacteristic of her. I immediately trusted that what she was saying was true.
After the doctors gave us the most horrible news, that our daughter had suffered irreversible brain damage as a result of meningitis, we struggled through our dinner. We were gut-punched and it felt like we were walking through some kind of surreal dream.
At that very moment, Vickie looked down on our dining room table, and she saw a tiny purple butterfly, which must have fallen off of a card we had received. Vickie knew this was a sign from Tavi that she was ready to leave her earthly shell behind.
I wasn't sure yet, but Vickie intuitively knew that Tavi would be providing me with my own sign.
Sure enough the next day, I was going through a bag of hand-me-down clothing from our good friend Victoria, when I pulled out this onesie.
It was the three of us.
We knew our babygirl was telling us she was ready to go, and that she would be okay.
On June 25th, at 3:30 am, Tavi Louise transferred into the spirit plane, as we rocked, held and cuddled our precious daughter, listening to the song "Baby of Mine" from the Disney movie Dumbo. It was a song that Vickie's deceased mother, Debbie, had sung to Vickie growing up.
Utterly destroyed, we went home to pass out. We knew that the next few days we would be dealing with the reality of her passing, making funeral arrangements, and telling loved ones about her death.
The next morning we woke up, shellshocked and walking around like zombies, intermittently crying and numb.
A package arrived from Vickie's Mom's Aunt, who had sent us a gift: a tiny baby doll with a sleeping sack—IN THE FORM OF A CATERPILLAR!!!!! It was Tavi's way of saying, "I'm okay, I left my earthly shell behind, and now I'm a butterfly."
From that moment, we have seen time and time again: Tavi is a phenomenal communicator!!!
On the day of her memorial she turned the Los Angeles sky a bright fuchsia and purple with a rainbow (and it hadn't even rained).
After the funeral, we went on a vacation which had oroginally been scheduled for 3 days after Tavi was prematurely born. It would have been our "babymoon." Instead, we called it our "Angelmoon."
On our last day in Tulúm, we made a point to visit the Xcaret butterfly pavilion, praying for a spiritual experience with Tavi. We had high hopes, but we didn't know if the butterfly-themed communication would continue after she passed.
However, as soon as we got there, we knew Tavi's spirit was around us.
A Blue Morpho began dancing around me, and landed on my lower back, flapping her wings, as if to give me a "hug."
This is a metaphysical story of love beyond death. Everything you read here is true and has happened to us personally. We are sharing this with you now, as it is intended as a healing space for us to process and document what we have experienced, but also to share our experience, strength and hope with others who may be going through a similar journey.
Remember what I said about Tavi's energy showing up in the garden? Some people might say, "That's a lens flare, you cuckoo bird!"
If that's the case, then why is the purple orb light source (shown in the photo above) coming from the opposite direction of the sun?
Look, I'll even post some more for comparison. I took these all this morning.
Anyway, I'm a believer in Tavi's energy being with us in the yard.
Which brings me to...her memorial area!!!
The first thing we did was get a beautiful memorial stone made by Mountin Designs on Etsy.
Look how cute this Milkweed is! It's also known as "Hairy Ball Plant."
And then, with a beautiful floral border...
Our other favorite area is her bench, which overlooks her memorial stone (see you can see the leg there on the left). We sit here and contemplate life. <3
I purchased Tavi's bench at International Garden Center in El Segundo, CA.
I hope the bench doesn't get ruined—it's getting sprayed 2x per week by the sprinklers. Yikes. Must come up with a plan. Any suggestions, other than moving the bench?
We love this area of our yard, it gives us a physical place to come, sit quietly and remember Tavi. It's also so nice to be on our deck and look out at this every morning. The Tavi Memorial Area has been so healing for us.
The strangest thing happens whenever I'm in the yard taking pictures...
Tavi's energy comes through in the photos. I make sure to take the pictures at different angles...
And at different times of day. But Tavi's golden, healing energy shows me she is in the yard with us.
When we first moved into the house, I was determined to dedicate a butterfly garden to Tavi and create a warm and inviting, healing space for our family.
My mom grew up in Medellín, Colombia, which is famous for its flowers. Every year they have a Feria de Flores where the paisas parade down the streets with gorgeous floral displays.
My grandpa Octavio (my mom's dad), after whom Tavi is named ("Tavi" is the middle of OcTAVIo), was a wonderful gardener and passed this love of gardening and flowers onto my mother, who passed it on to my sister Stephanie and me. In a way, you could say that that flowers are in our sangre.
I really wanted to make Tavi a butterfly garden, with some California Natives, some butterfly plants, and some flowering plants in her colors (purple, magenta, and pink, although we have a variety of colors in the yard).
Somehow, I knew that connecting to the Earth, and planting our own flowers, would help us heal. Keep in mind that I grew up sort-of gardening with my mom, but nothing too crazy. So I'm kind of a self-taught gardener. Well, I have never had much of a green thumb, so I am really believe that Tavi and Papito Octavio have blessed our Healing Garden, and helped it flourish.
Initially we had planted a beautiful Princess Flower tree on her behalf. The sad thing is, it totally died. We eventually replaced it with a Milkweed, which attracts Monarch butterflies.
So here are some of the early photos of our yard:
So then we dug up the plants that died, with some newfound gardening knowledge, and fertilizer.
I planted a Passiflora Vine in honor of Claude Shade, my former colleague from Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.
We got our very own Tavi blessing, on a new milkweed we planted.
It's only been six months, but we can really see how the yard has changed in that time.
We can share some before/after photos of the first efforts at gardening (above), with/without fertilizer and with/without thoroughly shaking out the root balls (below).
Doing laundry for my loved ones is one of the many things I took for granted before Tavi passed away.
Vickie and I haven't done our own laundry for several years (I know—spoiled). We've been taking our laundry to Fluff & Fold (thank you, NY, for teaching us of this amazing service), because we have been so busy, and it has been a major time and relationship saver.
Especially in the past ten months, Fluff & Fold has been a blessing. With every brown paper package we've received has come a deep breath, a sense of relief. Fresh-smelling folded and laundered clothing is like a big hug from the universe. These "bundles of joy" have cradled and rocked us, and our rocked systems.
But lately, I've been longing to do laundry for my family, in our new home.
When you have a baby, you get to do their laundry. I say "get to" because it is a gift. Washing, sorting and lovingly going through their little garments, fluffy socks, and soft cotton throws, means they are alive and doing well, even if they have a poop blowout up the back. We never got to do our sweet girl's laundry.
When Tavi passed away, it was a heartbreaking task to put away many of the cute outfits she had received as gifts. While she was still in the womb, she had received several full-sized newborn outfits, and then when she was born prematurely at 25 weeks, she began receiving little NICU outfits.
We will never wash her NICU clothes. The scent on those clothes is far too precious. We folded them up in plastic bags to preserve her special "Tavi aroma," an intoxicating smell of her baby self, combined with a faintly medical smell of antibacterial gel plus a soft laundry detergent scent. The other newborn clothes are stored away in a plastic bin full of memories of her short but impactful life.
Even though we moved into our Healing House in September, we have been living without a washer/dryer ever since. Our new home didn't come with a washer and dryer. We have a very shallow closet for washer and dryer, and we were just not okay with having the washer and dryer jut out into the hallway. If the w/d are jutting out into the hallway, then there would be no neat way to close this area off from houseguests. If you're anything like us, laundry is a major hurdle, so we didn't want our mess to be visible.
As my mom would say in Spanish, "La ropa sucia se lava en casa," which translates to "Dirty laundry is washed at home," but maybe it's time to air our dirty laundry?
As we are starting to think about moving forward with our goal of being active mommies to a physical baby, I finally convinced Vickie to let me buy a new washer and dryer. Somehow it makes me feel like I've gotten better, and can take more on. I can do Vickie's and Mom's laundry. I can do my laundry. And I hope someday soon I can do the laundry for our second little one, whose clothes we will gratefully wash for many years to come.
Wedding banners get new life
We got to celebrate Easter with family and friends in our sunny backyard. We adding some pops of color by repurposing the banners from our wedding in our backyard! We have been waiting for a place to have space for these banners and we thought the back fence would be perfect for them.