Lauren and the Easter BunnyI spent most of my childhood growing up in South Philadelphia. That area, then and now, is predominately Italian Catholic. Accordingly, Easter was/is a BIG Holiday there.

Easter has always been a favorite of mine for lots of reasons: it’s really a 3 day feast starting with Good Friday and preceded by Palm Sunday; it has more religious drama than Christmas; it’s less stressful than Christmas (no gifts to shop for); the anticipation of warm weather; and it’s a big dress up event – the Easter outfit.

As an adult, Easter became more special to me because of Lauren. Lauren’s birthday is April 16th. I was very much pregnant with her the Easter that fell just prior to her birth. I was also anticipating my first Mother’s Day a short time later. Although I was expectant weary, I was also excited and filled with plans and dreams for us as a little family.

As my book unfolds, you learn that these dreams are shattered and that my first Mother’s Day was an emotional heartbreak. But we championed on…

The story goes on to tell how Lauren, the true Champion of this book, fought to survive and thrive in the midst of our loving family and friends.

Lauren was a “girlie girl”. Despite her young age, she loved shopping with me and she loved when we bought her clothes. Because of her underlying heart condition, which often cast a blue hue to her skin, Lauren looked best in, and loved pink.

The following 2 Easters and Mother’s Days were joyous with her. You can see from these photos how much she loved dress up and fun! We’d always have an April Birthday party for Lauren too. These spring events were poignant and memorable for me. They were happy and endearing.

Unfortunately, Lauren’s 3rd Easter and Birthday were spent in the hospital fighting a losing battle for her health. Lauren died on April 29th, just 2 weeks after her 3rd birthday, in an ICU, where she was unconscious and unaware of her big day. And once again, the ensuing Mother’s Day was obliterated, this time with funeral plans.

Each spring and Easter, I focus on the positives – the happy memories of Lauren in her frilly pink outfits and her joy and laughter at her Birthday celebrations. I know that she is always with us in spirit and guiding us to reminisce happily.Lauren and Liz Barker Dressed for Easter