40 / 32
      40 / 35
      42 / 36

      Remembering Savanah Marie

      Savanah Marie Herold, sleeping peacefully the day before she died unexpectedly.
      June 15, 2011, seven-day-old Savanah Marie Herold's heart stopped and shattered her family's world.

      Every day since then has been an effort to get by for her mother, Angela Herold. Milestones like Savanah's birthday are occasions to be endured, but also celebrated. It's a dichotomy that is difficult to balanceâ??much like putting on a happy face for your children when inside you're weeping.

      As Savanah's first birthday arrives, the Herold family is again teetering on that tightrope of celebration and grief with a memorial for their baby.

      â??We're just trying to do something for our family, to recognize that she was part of us, is part of us and always will be part of us,â?? Angela said.

      At the 6:15 p.m. service on 6-15-2012, the Herald family will gather at baby Savanah's gravesite in Palmyra. She's buried in a spot at the cemetery that the locals call â??Babyland,â?? surrounded by markers that note the death of other children. The amount of pain endured in this corner of the cemetery is difficult to conceive. Dates of birth and death can hardly convey the depth of feeling a parent has for a child whose life was too short.

      If ever there was a fitting symbol for that transition into new life, it's the butterfly. The religious parallel of death to new life with Jesus in heaven is a comfort to the grieving.

      â??We like to think of Savanah as our little butterfly,â?? Angela told me. Every sighting of a butterfly is an occasion to remember for Angela, her husband Ryan and their two surviving children, Breyhana and Tegan.

      At Savanah's memorial, the Herolds will have a butterfly release. Her sisters are making a butterfly â??smash cakeâ?? to leave behind. That's the cake a one-year-old traditionally smears on her face to mark her first birthday.

      We first told you about the Herold's loss in a story headlined, â??The life and death of Savanah Marie.â?? You can read the full story here . It was part of a series of stories on miscarriage and the loss of a child, originally sparked by the discovery of two fetuses in the basement of a Hannibal home. You can follow the stories development at the links on the bottom of this page.

      Our series of stories opened a dialog for people who have suffered such losses. Within a month, our readers set up an invitation-only Facebook page called Blessed Tears as a place to connect and share memories, heartbreak, and healing. The stories also breathed life into efforts to revive local support groups.

      Scores of people responded and the resounding message is that while life has to go on for the living, the dead are never forgotten. A child like Savanah Marie who only lived a week, impacts her loved ones for a lifetime.

      Take care~

      Sarah D.