It is With a deep bow of love and gratitude for my stillborn son, Elijah Iam Godfrey, that The Loving Garden was created. His journey into this world was not meant to be and his diagnosis of Trisomy 13, a genetic disorder that is not compatible with life was laid upon my heart 5 months into my pregnancy. 

Against all advice, judgement and opinions from those who bore the label family and friends, I carried on and carried my child in my body and in my heart until God chose to take him home. I would not make any other choice offers but to carry my son Home. In the 4 months of this Truth- I wrote frantically hundreds of pages, I broke down more times that I can count, I mourned in silence, as a traveler – I continued on and I traveled through many states and showed Elijah the world from within, documenting our travels as my belly grew with every passing day, I read to him, talked for hours with him and sang and danced with him until my body frame could not hold the weight standing up. So I sang from the $40 lazy boy armchair I bought where I slept most nights with pillows tucked all around me. It was his chair, Elijah’s chair. That I still sit in today. 

In the still nights of silence, The Loving Garden bloomed in my heart, perhaps from a dream, and one morning I awoke and began to write about the garden, sketch the vision, flowchart and architect, writes its purpose and knew I was determined to trust this impending loss and grief had greater purpose. It had to! 

I had to grow love forward from the growing love within me and give to those who need it as much as I needed it and it was withheld in a fractured childhood. But I held steadfast from a young age that love must exist beyond those walls. And said over and over, There is ‘more’. I knew it and sought it out in adulthood. 

I worked fast to create The Loving Garden as I wanted it to be part of Elijah’s memorial announcement. While impending motherhood should be about planning baby showers and buying newborn outfits, mine was juggling and struggling to raise a 9 year old daughter as a single mother while planning a funeral for my son still in utero. I look back and perhaps focusing on this charity gave it all a bigger purpose as to why my son would die. As the days went by filled with documenting hundreds of hours of journaling and writing letters to Elijah and doing videos and non stop photos of ‘us’ together to fit in as many memories as I could knowing any day the memories would cease with his heart. 

I loved to feel him move inside me, an elbow, a foot poking my humongous belly that put me in a wheelchair because he could not absorb the amniotic fluid. I did whatever needed to keep him with me just one more minute.

The grief moments were beyond any words I could share. I grieved my son while his heart beat inside me. Until one morning It didn’t. God took him Home on 11/20/2011 while I slept.  3 weeks before my due date. 

Elijah came silently into this world on 11/21/2011. It was only me and God in the hospital room when Elijah was delivered for all who had been present and wiping my tears had stepped out when I asked for a moment alone before birthing him. And it was in that moment of silence and my eyes closed in prayer to help me ensure in this final moment, is when I delivered him. I was not alone. My loves above and God were with me and welcomed my child Home. (As I write this 9 years and 2 months later, I am crying. To share with the Gardeners here the Truth of the true depth of my love and my grief is a moment in time long waiting and a conviction of my faith and trust that the journey with my son had greater purpose beyond the pain and suffering. The tears now are a mixture of a heavy heart and a soul that smiles.)

On That day when I awoke to a heavy belly and a knowing in the depth of my soul that my son left this world, I knew one day I would bloom what he left behind, a LOVE so limitless, so deep and unconditional, and so massive in its purpose that it humbled me to my knees. 

And through my journey with my baby son Elijah, I experienced what unconditional love really was and it took me on a journey through the years since, and thousands of written pages since, how to unconditionally love myself.

Every grief tear shed like raindrops or torrential downpours, I know channel for the greater good, the greater love, and these tears are what water the flowers of love to bloom in this very garden. Flowers of Love to share and give to others in need to know they too are loved and worthy of love and supported so they can love themselves too. And perhaps one day they will be the very ones to rise another up to bloom in love and plant their own seeds.

This Garden is limitless and eternal because Love is.

Thank You for Loving. You are Loved.

With Blooming Love,

Lori Freed, Founding Gardener

The Loving Garden 

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