The Circle Maker
My husband and I sat down and wrote this thank you the day after Tessa had passed away. It was read at her Celebration of Life on February 24, 2018. May you be blessed as we look back on Tessa's life here.
Tessa lived a very full life for a child diagnosed with Trisomy 18. Our family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you. God had a very detailed plan laid out for Tessa and looking back, He used all of you to bless her life- believers and unbelievers alike.
I have heard God be called a “circle-maker” and I believe that is true. Let me explain.
The doctors and nurses at Gros Ventre OBGYN helped me nurture our baby girl as she developed in the womb. Every week, I saw those girls and every week, we celebrated tiny victories to 40 weeks. To you who helped bring her to this earth, we thank you.
Twenty-four hours after Tessa’s birth, we were on a fixed-wing flight to Primaries Children’s Hospital NICU in Salt Lake City. We learned of Tessa’s intricate genetic anomalies and the unknown future of our baby girl on this earth. Thank you to the University of Utah flight crew, Primary Childrens NICU staff, and Rainbow Kids. You are amazing and we thank you for never treating us adversely or ever telling us that you wouldn’t treat Tessa. Thank you for making us brave to bring our Tessa home for her adventure.
We left Primaries connected to other providers that were going to help us nurture our baby girl. They walked with us until the end. Countless tank-swaps, monthly orders for supplies, and weekly visits by nursing staff available to teach us about Tessa’s baseline helped us to support her needs. Thank you staff at St. Johns Hospice, Rock Springs IV, and Lincare in Jackson and Big Piney. Thank you for your prompt service and caring voices- always willing and able to go the extra mile for Tessa.
Throughout Tessa’s journey, we spent periodic time in Salt Lake City and Jackson for check-ups and hospitalizations. Thank you to those caring nurses and doctors at Primaries Hospital, Jackson Pediatrics, and St. Johns Medical Center. We will never forget celebrating an anniversary dinner, made very special by St. Johns nursing staff, during Tessa’s bowt of pneumonia in August 2016. Thank you Ronald McDonald House for your ability to house families such as ours and always having a room for us. Thank you to the staff at the front desk that eventually knew us by first name and welcomed us with a smile. Thank you Shriner’s Hospital staff for trying to get Tessa her walker and for giving us a glimpse of Tessa in an upright position. Thank you Comprehensive Care Clinic and especially Dr. Jason Alvey and Caroline Hagedorn for always being just a phone call away. You saw the big picture and were always generous with time when we visited. Thank you Dr. Park, Dr. O’Gorman, and Dr. Mart- you are so good in your specialties and I know patients that are lucky enough to have you as their doctors are in good hands.
Tessa’s life wasn’t defined by her hospitalizations or her physical limitations. A special thanks to my Walk in Faith Bible Study women’s group. Tessa was able to go snowshoeing, hiking and cross country skiing because of the generous donation of a Kelty backpack. Thank you to Hoback Sports, Just Do What Matters, and other donors that gave Tessa her Chariot. All princesses should have one, right? This made all of Tessa’s outdoor excursions comfortable and gave us the ability to go bike riding, skiing, and strolling. We must also thank Delta Airlines, Jackson Hole Airport and Minneapolis St. Paul Airport for your patience and kindness during our travels to MN in July. Your assistance through security and on the flights made our travels seamless and comfortable.
Thank you to our employers at the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Sublette County Conservation District Board, and Togwottee Snowmobile Tours. We would be remiss if we did not thank you for your support and flexibility that allowed us to take the time we needed when Tessa fell ill or we just needed to stay home and love on her.
Thank you to Tessa’s advocates at Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Wyoming Department of Health. Thank you to Mo Roberts, our Medicaid and Waiver case worker. The financial relief of health insurance and specialized care allowed us to never deny Tessa the ability to see a doctor or specialist required for her quality of life.
The muscle of the Tessa’s life was defined by those who wanted to see her flourish. These people really helped to define her quality of life by building her up cognitively and physically. A special thank you to Sonja, Krista, Jen and Lisa at the Children’s Learning Center in Pinedale for entering Tessa’s life early and boosting her development. We know her ability to communicate was enhanced by your consistent teaching and time spent with her. Thank you, also, to Sue Holz with ProActive Rehabilitation in Pinedale for “roughhousing” with Tessa and helping her learn how to stand and use her muscles. Thank you to the Sue Pfluhoft at the Pinedale Aquatic Center for finding a way to allow Tessa to swim with a floaty that worked for her special needs. Thank you for going over and above your calls of duty.
To Kay and George Meeks, for watching Tessa in her first year; for having no fear and just holding Tessa all day long; for praying over her all day and I each morning; for showing her the love of Jesus through the arms of a Meeks. Tessie loved you and will be an angel above your house. And to Barb and Dave Harper- a home that opened its doors to a stranger; who gave relentless support; from your bravery to take Tessa everywhere; for your gift of the Upsee to Tessa and enduring the process of paperwork for the State; for your constant love, your open ear, your guidance, your attention to detail. You are a part of the family. We love you more than words can ever correctly articulate. Tessa would never have thrived the way she did without God placing you in our life in April 2015. And to Tammie Meeks. For always being “on-call”; for the amount of time you took out of your life to spend with Tessa when we needed reprieve. For your constant prayer. You have taken much time out of your life to support us and we are so grateful. Your faith has helped to keep us grounded.
To those who have stood in the gaps of Tessa’s life including the prayer warriors everywhere, our church families and prayer chains in Jackson, Pinedale and Star Valley…and you. Each one of you in this room had an impact on our life; whether we saw you at the rodeos, fair, community gatherings, church, at the grocery store, on the street or elsewhere…
And in the end, Primaries PICU nurses, respiratory therapists and doctors who had nothing but Tessa’s comfort at the top of their list. Tessa passed away with dignity, honor and respect received by all who stood in that room with us.
Before we left St. Johns hospital on Friday, February 2, I had called my friend Hanna at Gros Ventre OBGYN and asked her to clean out her trunk and just give me whatever clothes were available. Her and Shannon Roberts gave whatever they had and Hanna ran it over to me before the flight team got to the ER. I could have called anyone…but I called Gros Ventre OBGYN. The circle was starting to be complete. One more fixed-wing airplane ride with University of Utah and one last breath at Primaries. The circle was complete.
The only one that can orchestrate events such as that is the one we find our ultimate hope in…the circle maker…the shepherd that calls all those who believe…home. I want you to know that you all have an impact and were used by God to complete Tessa’s circle. You were divinely planted in this room today and in Tessa’s life. May you never doubt or belittle your existence and may Tessa be your reminder of that each day. Thank you.