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It has been a year now that Kerri and I have been missing our baby Kate. This past year has given us a chance to grieve, reflect and gain a sense of deep appreciation for the things and people around us.
It’s easy to just let life roll on by, keeping busy with trivial things, activities and things that help to occupy our minds, most of them not being that important at all. We too have now had a life-changing circumstance that has brought us back to the real meaning of our lives and priorities and made us recognize how little time there is to experience life to the fullest. Every minute of every day, we are knowingly (or in most cases unknowingly) writing our life’s story, where others come in and out of it. Through this story, people see who we are, our character, our integrity and our desires. We will look back and see how our story unfolds, the lives we have touched and how we have contributed along the way.
In the case of our story, we looked so forward to our life with Kate. There wasn’t anything else that was more important. This is probably the hardest part, although we realize that we will be seeing her in heaven someday. Upon our loss and this tragic part of our life’s story, we found something else that was just as special, which became an all-consuming (in a good and special way) part of our lives. This was the outreach, love and support we have received and enjoyed from so many of you throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and Snowmass Village.
When we arrived in Snowmass Village more than 18 months ago, Kerri and I realized that we were living in what the locals called a town. We thought that this was just another way to describe a small city. What we have found is that this small town is really a very special community that cares about many things, including the people who are in it. Kerri and I (and our families) have been so blessed by the outpouring of love from so many of you. We thank you for this and appreciate every note, card and email and the everlasting friendships.
There has been something that has been on my mind now for quite a long time, and I wanted to share it with you.
The evening that Kerri and I realized that we had lost Kate (she hadn’t been born yet), we didn’t know what to do. What we were experiencing is indescribable, and the closest I can come to describing it was complete and utter despair. We reacted and told our friends and family that we wanted to be alone and even asked our immediate family to stay away while we sorted this out.
Luckily they didn’t. Later that evening, at Aspen Valley Hospital, Kerri and I received a note from a woman from Aspen along with her contact information. The note said, “Please call.” I thought to myself that it was nice that some “trying-to-be-helpful lady” was reaching out to us, and why couldn’t this person understand that this is a tough time for us and that we weren’t interested in experiencing our loss with someone we did not know?
I wasn’t having happy thoughts at the time. I didn’t call or say anything to the nurse who brought us the note. Early that morning, we received yet another call. I thought again, “The nerve of this woman” – I didn’t have anything to say. Later that morning, one of our nurses came into our room (we were still reeling from the situation) and announced that the woman who had been calling was at the hospital and in fact was waiting outside. At that point, Kerri and I decided to invite her in although we were not in the mood for whatever she was selling. Perhaps she would go away after our introduction.
This might sound strange, and yes, I wasn’t myself, but this is what happened. This woman entered our hospital room, stood just inside the door and said that she was there to help us. The strange thing is that she had an aura around her as if she were standing in a beam of light. She said again, as we didn’t know what to say and didn’t react before, “I am here to help you welcome your daughter into this world … to help you realize just how special she is and give you both a chance to spend some time with her.”
Kerri and I up until this point just wanted for all of it to go away. Almost as if this terrible thing didn’t really happen. We were in denial. The woman said, “What is her name?” We told her that we had not named her as we had decided to do so once we saw her come into the world. The woman said that is where we should start, and Kerri and I agreed to name our baby Kate.
There is much more to this story, and I will spare you the details. One detail is that the woman’s name is Allison Daily, the wife of Art Daily. As you might be aware, they too have had their own challenges and incredible losses in the book of their lives.
Allison then took us by the hand and led us through the toughest and most special time of our lives. The entire time, it was as if Allison were sent to us to help us as she guided and comforted us. If it weren’t for Allison, we would not have dealt with our loss as well as we did, including embracing and loving our Kate. Thank you, Allison, for inserting yourself into our lives, for not taking “no” for an answer and helping us to appreciate and honor Kate the way we did. This is a major chapter that we will never forget in the book of our lives.
This is just one of so many wonderful people who have touched our lives in so many ways here in the mountains. For this we thank you!
We thank the men and women at Snowmass Chapel for all of your support and love you have given us. Thank you for infecting us with the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
We also thank the nurses and doctors at Aspen Valley Hospital and recognize what a talented group of professionals you are. Thank you for the care you provided us.
Kerri and Michael Tande
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Lift-Up has helped feed hungry families in the Roaring Fork Valley for 38 years, but experienced in a surge in demand this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is making changes to meet the demand and address allegations of incidents of discrimination.