Message from Rosemary Armesto
Email from 1998
Last year I joined NSDP and in May joined the local chapter "Starlite Painters" in Belle Mead, New Jersey. Most of you who are members know that local chapters participate in charitable events or sponsor a program. The spirit being contributing something to the community.
Our chapter paints memory boxes for a support group of families who have lost a child right after birth. Stillborns and those who die within days of their birth. The hospital would fill a paper bag with the little cap, i.d. bracelet, footprints, first photo if one was taken, etc. One of the nurses is friends with a chapter member and mentioned how bad she felt for these parents instead of taking home a new baby are handed a paper bag with a few mementos. Our chapter now paints memory boxes and twice a year the older members of the support group bring in moms who have recently lost a child. Until tonight I really didn't know how it worked, I was just asked to paint one.
Trying to figure out something to paint for something like this was difficult. Finally, I bought a book that had some teddy bears in it; I think it was a Jean Meyer's book. The pattern was a blue background with clouds, and a little bear lying on his stomach asleep, and a smiling sun looking at him. At the top was written "Angel in Slumberland".
When I finished it last month I left it with our chapter coordinator of this program and thought that was that. Tonight we had a chapter meeting and all the memory boxes where lined up on a table. You would not believe the beautiful painted memory boxes. Some of these gals must have worked weeks on these. They were all works of art, except for mine. It was just ok...believe me. I'd never painted fur, EVER. And it was just so plain. Nothing was special about it.
There were a lot of people there that I didn't recognize so I assumed they were the nurses from the neonatal intensive care unit who were there to pick up the boxes.
As I was sitting with a friend chatting I noticed that my box wasn't among the others at the table. It was on the other side of the room on a table where there where two people sitting. I said to my friend Rita, gosh I knew I shouldn't have agreed to paint a memory box. I wonder why it's over there and not with the rest of them. Rita said, That's a mom and when she walked past the memory boxes she started to cry and said, "this is the one I have to have". I said to my friend you mean she's the mom and not a nurse!?! When she nodded, yes, I broke down crying and could not stop. She said some of them have already gotten theirs and they bring in new moms who've recently lost a child. This Mom lost her baby 3 months ago.
This mom had the pick of the most beautiful artwork I've seen and she chose mine. After I could pull myself together a bit I went over to talk to her. Her name is Cathy. We hugged and cried and she said she just had to have the one I painted because when her son died she thought to herself he's my Angel in heaven and the words "Angel in Slumberland" touched her heart immediately. I asked her what her son's name is and she said Christopher, my grandson is named Christopher also. I won't ever paint that pattern again because that one is special for Cathy and her son Christopher.
To say I've been humbled is an understatement. To know that what I painted will hold the memories of her most precious and loved child, she has honored me.
When I was painting this box last summer I said to myself never again! This is just too depressing. After tonight, I know I could never turn down a request.
Only two new moms were there tonight so the remaining boxes were taken by the support group leader to be brought to their own meeting where those who couldn't come will be able to pick which ever box touches her heart.
I've learned something else also. We can touch other peoples' lives in ways we can never imagine.
Thanks for letting me share this with you".
Thank you, Tera. I don't know how you find the time and energy to give all that you do for us and for decorative painting. I would be honored to contribute whatever I can to ToleNet's Memory Box Program.
God Bless and Hugs,
South River, New Jersey USA