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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ava's Service: Gratitude and Remembrances

I told Matt after the fact, that the day of Ava's service felt more like a wedding than a memorial. While I was dreading the act of saying goodbye to her in such a public way, I felt such gratitude for Ava's life with us.

I felt such longing mixed with joy over her departure to a much better place.

I was proud of how her life had touched so many and grateful beyond words for each person who was able to join us to celebrate her.

And I felt so thankful for the ability to memorialize her life in a way that fulfilled my hearts desire. I imagine I will feel similar feelings on the day each of my daughters, joins her life with another in marriage. It was truly painfully sweet.

Both Matt and I were able to speak, and it was a great honor and blessing to stand before our family and friends and share how Ava had lived and in doing so, changed us forever. We, perhaps more than anyone, are different people today than we were when we discovered we were pregnant with our Little Bean 18 months ago.

Here are the words we shared...

Matt's Remembrances:

As Ava’s parents, we would like to thank you for coming today, to celebrate the life of our daughter, Ava Gabrielle Harms. Her brief story is one of answered prayers and miracles, and something I hope I can get through.

Like many churches, Sara and I were required to attend several pre-marriage counseling sessions before tying the knot. We were encouraged to discuss how we handle important decisions, our finances, and even meddling in-laws. Our answers were repeatedly identical, further confirming our complete and perfect compatibility. Finally, the pastor inquired about the number of children we would like to have. Sara quickly and confidently said “Five…maybe more” while I had been thinking “three…if that many.”

In early December of 201o, God suddenly, and without consulting us, decided to split the difference by blessing us with a fourth, and admittedly unexpected pregnancy. Because we hadn’t planned or even tried to get pregnant, we were pretty sure this new little life was a “miracle” blessing from the Lord. The firm conviction that our pregnancy had been ordained and purposed by God sustained us when at Week 13, Sara began to miscarry. While we waited in our OB’s office for an ultrasound to see if our miracle baby was still living, we asked God through many tears to save it, renewing our minds with the two simple truths that have become the bedrock of our lives: First that God is good, and second, that God is faithful.

I have to admit, I thought the ultrasound would bring bad news. But I was wrong. Sara assures me that this happens on occasion. The ultrasound showed a healthy, thriving baby but also that the placenta was bleeding. That bleeding and the resulting pre-term labor placed Sara on and off bed-rest for months, and took her into and out of the hospital for medications to stop labor. When the medications stopped working, that bleeding also forced the premature delivery of a teeny tiny baby girl on May 24, 2011.

Our little miracle weighed in at only 2lbs 11oz and 14 inches long and from the beginning had the sweetest little cry. Her head was just the length of my thumb and her hand so small it could fit in Sara’s wedding band.

Because of her prematurity, our baby girl was sent to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital NICU, and immediately began impressing the staff. She came off the ventilator after only one day and quickly tolerated food through a tube. She also required intravenous caffeine, a treatment I’ve often begged for myself. So far though, I haven’t found anyone willing to prescribe it for me. Not even Dr. Starbucks.

In those early days, Sara and I were content to call our little one “Baby Girl Harms.” This however was apparently unacceptable to many others, including family members, the nursing staff, and most importantly, the clerks at the St Louis City Vital Records department. So we finally sat down and arrived at an answer- Ava Gabrielle “Ava, from the Hebrew word for Life” and Gabrielle, meaning “God is my strength.”

Ava flourished, thanks partly to the fact that Sara tirelessly held and cared for her each day, and partly I think to my video-taping of Sara tirelessly holding and caring for her each day. The nurses began calling her “show-off” and “over-achiever,” a fact that only proves she was a Harms child through and through. Despite doing so well on so many fronts, her doctors noticed one day that her head was growing too quickly. I recall confidently assuring Sara that a big head was just the genetic influence of her side of the family and that the doctor’s concerns would turn out to be a false alarm. But I was wrong.

In fact, Ava’s head was growing because she’d developed hydrocephalus, a condition where a blockage prevents spinal fluid from being distributed from its source deep within the brain. The resulting build-up of pressure progressively compresses the surrounding brain, and if not treated quickly can cause severe brain damage. Suddenly, Ava’s premature delivery was itself a miracle by allowing her hydrocephalus to be diagnosed early and treated quickly! She tolerated the hydrocephalus surgery well and with the pressure on her brain relieved, she quickly learned to breast feed, came off the monitors, and was ready to come home. In fact, Ava was discharged almost exactly on her due date.

The next months were as close to sheer bliss as possible with a newborn at home. Ava did well and each day was acting more and more like a normal baby. She routinely kept us up all night with her baby noises and cries, wanted to be held constantly, and cried every single time we brought her anywhere near her car seat. She loved staring up at our faces, enjoyed her older sister’s constant serenades and even cracked a smile or two.

In the middle of October however, Ava’s hydrocephalus returned and she required a second brain surgery. This happens to almost every child with hydrocephalus and so we had expected it. What we didn’t expect were Ava’s seizures. For reasons no one could explain, Ava’s seizures were difficult to control, requiring extra-ordinarily high doses of medications, so high that she was extremely sedated and barely did anything except sleep.

From October through January, she was in and out of the hospital as we tried different medications. I thought that if we could just find something less sedating, Ava would wake up, open her eyes and start smiling again. But I was wrong. As we finally found a treatment that stopped Ava’s seizures without sedating her, she didn’t wake up like we’d hoped, it became clear that something else was severely affecting her brain.

Frustrated by Ava’s continuing decline, I stopped by a friend’s office to vent. He happens to be a pediatric neurologist, so together, we went over Ava’s brain MRI’s, biopsy results, and lab tests with a fine toothed comb. As we talked, only one possible explanation for everything emerged- a rare genetic condition called Alexander’s Disease. Since Alexander’s disease is almost always fatal, I prayed that I’d again be wrong. But I knew in my heart that I wasn’t, that Alexander’s Disease is what Ava had. It took 28 long days for Ava’s genetic testing to confirm our fears.

On Sara’s advice, I’ll spare you most of the nitty-gritty on Alexander’s disease, but say only that the disease causes one group of cells in the brain to overgrow and over-divide, crowding out the normal cells needed to think and move. Neurological function is gradually lost until even the most basic drives to eat and breathe cease. And over time, that’s exactly what continued to happen.

Even as Ava continued to decline over her last weeks, we were blessed with one major miracle. After weeks of perpetual sleep, Ava started opening her eyes and looking at us again. When her lids would part everything at the Harms Household came to a grinding halt. The kids would come running and we’d cluster around her all vying for her brief gaze, a competition that was typically won by her sisters’ quicker feet, smaller heads and much louder voices. Ava even opened up her blue eyes to take in the beautiful chaos of her first birthday party. For the record, you can fit 85 people on the main level of South City gingerbread house, but your 15 year old air conditioner might not be up to the task.

We had prayed that Ava would live long enough to enjoy that party and almost as soon as it ended, we could see the end approaching. Over the next three days, Ava slowly and peacefully slipped away, back into the arms of the God who had briefly loaned her to us.

Sara's Gratitude:

When Ava came into being—a cluster of cells miraculously given life – she brought with her many gifts. Some of these gifts we have yet to fully unpack, but others we have already had the privilege of opening and putting on display.

Ava’s life gave us the gift richer community. My pregnancy with Ava quickly became high-risk and immediately gave us the opportunity to welcome literally dozens of people into our family – to care for our children, to care for our home, to care for our hearts through prayer and encouragement.

So many times, Matt and I would look at one another and say, “We don’t know how on earth to live the life God has given us!” And so often, as we surrendered that to God, He would arrange a timely visit from a friend, an offer to help or an early discharge from the hospital.

Even our hospital visits were peppered with encouragement and support: Friends who were hospital staff, or staff who’d become friends would stop by to check in, bring coffee and admire our sweet girl. One friend sat up all night holding Ava in the PICU so I could rest after a long day of emergency surgery. Doctors were willing to listen and treat Ava in the context of our family’s needs, even allowing Elizabeth and Ava to share a room on the night they were both admitted 8 hours apart.

Our family blog is littered with hundreds of stories of God’s faithfulness to our family through the community around us. And it is our deep desire that even as we relearn how to cook our own meals and fold our own laundry…Ken, I’m sorry, but I’m not sure I’ll ever learn to fix my own computers…that the mosaic of friendship that has wrapped us in love and care this past year would remain intact.

Thank you to our friends and family for your tireless support, thousands of air miles, countless acts of service, prayers and words of encouragement, and for staying in our lives through the treacherous emotional journey.

Thank you to the St Louis Children’s Hospital Staff for treating us like family, often for responding to our calls on the weekends, during your family vacations and in the middle of the night.

Thank you to Matt’s colleagues in the Wash U Department of Neurology, for covering his clinics and calls when he had to suddenly step away from his work responsibilities to stay with Ava in the hospital.

To my Obstetrician, who cared for both Ava and I so courageously in an effort to prolong my pregnancy. In the end, Ava’s premature delivery, which appeared at the time to be a grave disappointment, only provided us with many additional precious moments with our dear girl. We will treasure forever those early days when she could see and respond to us.

Thank you to our pastors at The Journey for making our family’s needs known to the Church, for visiting us in the hospital and at home, for praying for us faithfully and making this service a beautiful tribute to our daughter’s short life.

Thank you to the community groups who have adopted us to care for our practical needs.

And thank you to everyone who shared our story and Ava’s needs with your friends and family widening our network of support and creating a prayer chain that literally circles the globe at all hours of the day and night. Our hearts are filled with gratitude.

Ava’s life also taught us (and truthfully and continues to teach us) the value of time and people.

Holding Ava was not something you could do while multitasking. In the NICU, I called her my “trans-dermal opiate.” She would literally put me to sleep as I cuddled with her skin to skin. After her hydrocephalus surgery and discharge from the NICU, Ava was often uncomfortable. So she needed to be held tight, swaddled, and patted…clearly a two handed job.

Later, as her brain experienced the effects of Alexander’s Disease, she became limp and weighty in our arms. She needed support for her arms and head, and then special care had to be given so as not to pull out her g-tube and her IV or disconnect her monitor. Many of you came to hold her, and you can attest…she drew your full attention. Isn’t that what the people in our lives deserve: Our full attention? Ava’s life continues to teach me to value my children over the tasks of mothering and to grab hold of the time I have with them while we have it.

Among the other gifts Ava’s life gave us was growing experience of dependence on God. Through one crisis after another we came to understand that we could lean on God, without any back-up plan in sight, and that He would be faithful. We learned that He inspires people to pray for us at just the right time. That He remembers each of our children’s needs, even when we don’t and helps us to care for them, while our energy and capacity dwindles. And that He knows our needs before they even arise and is actively meeting them, often before we even ask.

Many times, I would arrange for someone to help with the girls, thinking it was for one purpose, and halfway through the week, we’d get admitted to the hospital, and the babysitter we thought was a luxury was suddenly essential.

A meal came, and THEN we needed it.

A friend sent us a check, which exactly covered our car insurance deductible the day before a stranger smashed our bumper in the Target parking lot.

Over and over we saw how God was trustworthy, dependable and faithful to meet our needs. And we learned that when we released our stranglehold of control on our life, God would build something beautiful, even when it was painfully different than we’d planned.

Finally, Ava’s life continues to give us the gift of Hope in God

We are experiencing that He can give us PEACE and HOPE when everything doesn’t “work out” and the world seems instead to fall to pieces around us. On the eve of Ava’s hydrocephalus surgery, a well-meaning friend tried to encourage me that “it would all work out, that eventually Ava would come home and learn to do all the things babies do.” In that moment, my hope, which had been free-falling in the wake of the devastating news of her hydrocephalus, hit bedrock-bottom.

I knew it may not “all work out”. Ava might not get well, or even come home. But realized our hope was resting on God, the One thing that has comforted Christian believers for centuries and given them hope in coliseums, labor camps, through natural disasters and the loss of everything the world has to offer.

That God is the Faithful God.

He is ahead of us and He will be with us.

He will provide for us.

He is good.

And that hope, which sprang up in that moment, has sustained us through the most difficult year of our lives. It allows us to grieve her death, and even in our sorrow, to have hope for the day we will see her in heaven as she is even now. Healed. Whole and Happy.

We sing a song with our girls when they’re babies, that says, “Running over, Running over, My cup is full and running over.” Ava’s life continues to bless us, even in her absence. And today, while we ache with missing our Ava-Bean. We truly feel…

Our cup, is full and running over.

*Thank you Matt Haynes and Papa Peterson for the beautiful photos of the service!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How We Are...

On Sunday, we marked a month since Ava passed away. The day was full of travel and goodbyes to our loved ones in Memphis, and yet the long drive allowed us to reflect on where we are after such a short time.

We are doing well. Matt and I are cherishing long evenings with the girls, playing in the yard and garden. We are aware that the space Ava left is large, and we are cautious about filling it up too quickly. We are appreciating peaceful, quiet moments, and slowly reconnecting with friends. We're watching lots of Food Network & HGTV and learning how to use our new iPhones (ok...I'm learning how to use the darn thing) Our brains are still pretty slow, (at least mine is...Matt's probably still able to decode the human genome with his eyes closed) so we're focusing on being with our family and doing things we enjoy.

The girls are doing very well. We talk about Ava all the time. Our favorite activity is sharing what we think Ava is doing in heaven right now. Usually it involves playing with Grandpa, listening to him talk like a duck, and snuggling with Jesus. We still go into Ava's room for diapers and occasionally to look at her pictures. I'm not sure when I'll be ready to begin putting things away, but not yet. It's nice to sit in her glider and think about her, smell her blankets and remember the weight of her in my arms.

The girls are very matter-of-fact in their processing, and that sometimes makes for awkward interactions with perfect strangers. I'm still not entirely comfortable with the question, "How many kids do you have?" or even comments like "Wow! You've got a lot of girls!" Sometimes I include Ava, and a few times when I've left her out Elizabeth or Ruby has jumped in with, "We have a sister Ava and she died." They're not the least bit concerned about how others might react, so I'm trying to just go with the flow for their sake. They've worked with an expressive therapist through Ava's hospice program and may continue to if it's necessary.

Life moves forward slowly, and we do what's in front of us. Elizabeth has an endoscopy this Thursday to do a routine check-up on the varicose veins in her esophagus. She's had a dozen of these, but they all require blood draws and general anesthesia, so we covet your prayers for a smooth procedure, and peace for her heart and mind. Hannah Mae is figuring out how to do life with a cast on. Today she climbed out of her crib with her cast, and her sleep sack on...she's not slowing down!

The habit we've formed of looking for and seeing all the ways God is sustaining us through the myriad crises in the last six years is continuing to bless us. We see His faithfulness everywhere. He continues to provide emotional and practical support for us...timely conversations, encouragement from His word, meals from friends, thoughtful cards, gifts and hugs which bless us every day.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
Psalm 145:3-9

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hannah The Brave & God the Provider

A week ago, Hannah fell down a few steps in our home, and then recovered so fully that we cancelled an appointment for an x-ray that afternoon. She's been lifting, twisting, pulling and playing so comfortably ever since that it was hard to imagine anything could possibly be wrong. But a few times, when we put pressure on her forearm, she'd wince, enough that when we got home from our road trip, we thought it was worth ruling out a possible problem.

Does this look like someone with a wrist fracture in two places??? Our big girl has both radial and ulnar buckle fractures!

She was a rock-star while getting her cast...(gortex, so it can get wet!) but after 5 hours at the hospital, she was wiped out!
The best part of the whole experience was being reminded that even though our moments of crisis with Ava are over, God is still providing for us each and every day. This morning, Ms. Marcia texted me before either of us knew we'd be heading to the hospital and offered to help us get back on our feet today...and then she stayed with the big girls all day while Hannah and I were getting her arm checked out. And then a friend brought yummy dinner to feed our family moments after I got home.

God hasn't changed.

Apparently He's not in any hurry to allow us to "do" our life all by ourselves.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Road Trip

This weekend we took our first road trip in two years. We joined my parents at a family reunion in Memphis, where I spent many childhood summers playing with cousins and friends. The last time we were there in '06, Elizabeth developed bacterial infection in her abdominal cavity, we spent our final day of the vacation in the ER and narrowly escaped a hospital admission. Thankfully, they allowed Matt (Dr. Daddy) to fly her home to SF and we basically drove her straight to get admitted to the ICU.

Our stop on the way south. The girls enjoyed catfish, fried okra and "throwed rolls" and had loads of fun!

Our little traveling champ...napless, but happy for the moment.

Representing the Cards & dining on ribs at the famed Rendezvous.

Who doesn't love sweet tea?!

Enjoying a trolley ride near Beale Street.
After all that, we were eager to create some new Memphis memories, and introduce Ruby and Hannah to our family and friends. We'd planned to bring Ava with us, so the trip was bittersweet, but we had a wonderful time and despite returning home completely exhausted (isn't that what family vacations are for??) we're eager to hit the road together again. In fact, Matt says, "If you live within six hours of St. Louis, we're now officially accepting bids." (Think International Olympic Committee)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Thirteen Years Later

After following Jesus, marrying this man was the best decision I ever made. Happy Anniversary Love.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I should be comfortable with the paradox by now. It is, after all, the theme of this blog, and our journey over the past six years. Promise and sorrow intermingle. Beauty and pain coexist. Holland has Rembrandts and Tulips, premature births provide extra time with precious babies, a move far from family brings an experience of community.

Today is no different. We carry with us the emptiness that Ava left behind. Yet in that space, there is much peace as we find moments to be present together with our three daughters in ways we frankly have always dreamed about.

Yesterday I came downstairs and the was struck again by the awful reality that the three girls playing picnic in the living room were all my children. No little sister would grow up to join them. Moments later, Hannah and Ruby proudly showed off the pile of books they'd emptied from their bookshelves and assembled in the center of the room. I realized I didn't have anything else to do, so we sat, and read books together.

Ava's care was so all consuming.

I would resume it again in a heartbeat.

But the reality is, She doesn't need me right now. Instead, her sisters have me now, available to them in a way that blesses all of our hearts. I can grieve her passing AND thank God for the gift of time with the daughters I have with me. I can miss Ava every moment while also feeling grateful that our new normal includes space for buying our first pet, "girls-day" trips to the salon for summer hair-cuts, growing vegetables and spontaneous outings to the zoo. 

There is grace to do both.

A Note from Ava's Auntie Svea

It is hard to measure the impact of a single life, especially one as brief as Ava's.  Yet, as I sat among friends and family at her beautiful and heartbreaking memorial, I realized that Ava’s life though painfully short, had impacted hundreds of people all over the world.

I know many of you also have been touched by Matt and Sara’s journey with their beautiful daughter, and I wanted to invite you to share your stories with them. Would you be willing to take a few moments and share the details of how Ava’s life and Harms family has impacted you and those around you who have followed their story?  The gift of your words will stand as a testimony that Ava’s life had incredible meaning and purpose and also be a balm of healing for the hearts of those who miss her still.  You can send your notes to

Thank you for your friendship and love and for taking the time to honor sweet Ava.

Auntie Svea

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Where I want to be

The day after Ava's service, Matt and his brothers drove their Mom the funeral services for Great-grandpa Jost in Kansas. My mom stayed for an extra week to help us transition to our new normal.  Now Matt is back at work and things are "going fine". The girls are doing well, in fact. After a few nights of waking up and needing extra snuggles, Ruby is more at ease. Elizabeth has mostly recovered from her pneumonia and is enjoying a more relaxed summer schedule. All the girls talk about Ava frequently and we actually have more space to be present for's peaceful here...but life isn't the same, and we're sad.

We're doing some "normal life" and that's ok...but as we go to the library, swim in the pool, work in the garden and try to make grocery just feels somewhat hollow. We're being kind to ourselves, and giving each other room to be where we're feels like we're doing all the right things....but none of it feels "good" in reality.

I don't want to move on. I want to stay right here. Where she was, and where the hole remains--a witness to her presence. To stop grieving her feels like it would mean losing part of the all-to-short experience I have with her.  So I don't want to be okay yet.

God, let me dream of her in heaven tonight
Dimpled cheeks and open eyes, full of light

Legs strong and graceful, dancing twirls
Golden hair surrounding sweet face with curls

While I am--with full heart and empty arms--asleep,
Fill my mind with dreams of her to keep.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Since Ava's service, for the most part,  I’ve felt like someone has placed a cork in me. I haven’t been able to cry, I can't really think. I’m not depressed, just numb. Peaceful, but frozen.

Today, I think I'm beginning to thaw...I can feel emotions and thoughts returning...and even feel even capable of expressing them. I feel emptiness in our home. I feel quiet in the spaces where Ava's monitors beeped, and food or medication needed to be prepared. I feel the strong need to remember what she felt like in my arms, and how her life was part of ours.

In the days leading to the service, we were cared for so beautifully by our family. We appreciated it when people cried with us. We were so thankful every time someone stopped what they were doing to express sadness over Ava’s death, or a sense of missing her. We soaked up all the memories, pictures and reflections. They filled the hole in our hearts and eased our grief.

We shared a meal with family and out of town friends the night before the service and were able to hear how God has used Ava’s story to encourage others, and draw people closer to God. We read your comments here on the blog, on facebook and over email, and were blown away by what God is doing through our little journey.

As I listened to our dear friends share, I realized in those moments, that God had answered our prayers to allow us to steward Ava's life for His glory.

In our best moments, our singular desire as we parent our kids, is that they would grow up to love God with all their hearts, and that in living their lives--in whatever they do--they would draw people to their Father in Heaven. Everything else is gravy.  We're humbled and grateful beyond words that Ava did that. Her short life was well lived. And as someone said, when Ava looked into her Father’s eyes on May 24th, no doubt, He said, “Well done, Ava Bean.”

What a gift.

At her service, we asked my dad, and our dear friends to perform a lullaby that we sing to the girls every night before bed. The first and last verse make up the song, Barocha, and were composed by Michael Card, for his album Sleep Sound in Jesus. After Ruby was born, Matt wrote four additional verses, and it has become our prayer for each of our daughters.

On the morning she died, I held Ava in my arms and sang our lullaby to her one last time.  Miraculously, as tears streamed down my face, I realized that God was answering my prayers. Every word of the song was becoming true for our sweet girl.

The Lord, bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face shine upon you
And give you peace
And give you peace,
And give you peace forever

The Lord be merciful to you,
Redeem your life and forgive you
Keep you from sin
Keep you from sin
Keep you from sin forever

The Lord heal and restore you
Bind up the sickness within you
And make you whole
And make you whole
And make you whole forever

The Lord protect and defend you
Drive out your fears before you
And hold your hand
And hold your hand
And hold your hand forever

The Lord be gentle with you
Comfort your heart and hold you
Dry all your tears
Dry all your tears
Dry all your tears forever

The Lord be gracious to you
The Lord turn his face toward you
And give you peace
And give you peace
and give you peace forever

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us yesterday, who sent encouraging emails or texts, who came to celebrate Ava's short life and let us see your sweet faces. The day was covered by unfathomable grace and peace, and despite the most painful circumstances, the service was a gift to Matt and I and our entire family. I am looking forward to sharing the service, which was filmed, but until it's available, here's a film segment which was played during the service, created by our precious and talented friends at SweetTea Media.

Ava from sweetTea media on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thank you

Thank you all for your incredible outpouring of love and support. We've been inundated with messages, emails, phone calls, and cards. Every one tells us we are loved and thought of. Every one tells us Ava's life mattered to someone, and our grief over her loss is shared. Yes, we're overwhelmed, but please, don't stop. We so appreciate every person who approaches us with tears in their eyes.

Don't apologize for crying with us!

Your grief is an acknowledgement of how much you care, for us, for Ava, for our family. Thank you for letting our story grip your heart.

This past week, time has raced by in slow motion. So many feelings, so many thoughts, so little time to sit and just be sad. Three busy girls, one with pneumonia and two with colds need a mama and daddy who are present, so Matt took the week off work, friends jumped in to cuddle the girls, clean our house, bring our meals and give us space to start planning Ava's service.

And in the middle of it all, Elizabeth graduated from Kindergarten! What a blessing her teachers and therapists have been. After a week away, she jumped back into school and on the last day, she and I were able to enjoy her class' awards ceremony. She won the Great Attitude Award, and we couldn't be more proud!
 Family has started to arrive now, and we are so thankful. We've appreciated the chance to share more Ava stories, share pictures and memories and miss our sweet Ava Bean together.
We look forward to celebrating Ava's life with everyone we love on Monday.