Aine Marie Phillips (pronounced Ahn-ya) is our beautiful daughter who brought so much light and love to our lives. Her simple, unassuming presence would warm the coldest room and when she laughed, she would laugh so honestly, it was palpable. She has a spirit of pure, selfless kindness toward others, particularly her little sister whom she looked after with such genuineness and pride; they were bonded as sisters but also as friends. Aine died on August 10, 2010, suddenly and unexpectedly. She was 8 years old. Always looking out for her sister and making sure all was ok, with her hands on her hips, she once told me “Mommy, we have to help her.” And so we will, and other grieving children, as Aine would want us to do.
Aine and Bella as Sisters
Our daughter Aine was born in November of 2001. She was a little baby, weighing in at 4lbs., 8oz. but she was strong. And beautiful. Her size and her stunning perfect face earned her the nickname “china doll” by the nurses on staff. And she remained strong and beautiful.
Aine filled our lives with sheer joy and happiness. When her little sister Bella was born in 2004, we were doubly blessed. And the two sisters became our every reason for living. They were the best little girls going – they got on so well together and the bond they formed will never be broken.
Riding scooters, swimming, jumping rope, playing dolls, being silly to make each other laugh, dancing and staying up for late night chats were a few of things they loved to do. Together. They were sisters, friends, and confidantes and play mates, one always looking after or standing up for the other.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Lots of parents say the same about their kids, sons and daughters alike. And I agree there are many great and wonderful sibling relationships all over the world. But our similarities stop there.
When Bella was 5 ½ years old, David and I called her into our bedroom on the morning of August 10, 2010. We told her that earlier that morning her sister had died. As parents, our lives were destroyed but in that instant we shattered the life of our surviving daughter. Never ever will I forget the look on my little girl’s face – horror, disbelief, utter fear. And the one person who could always make her feel better was gone.
Bella entered kindergarten two weeks after her sister died. They were supposed to ride the bus together and find each other on the playground or pass each other in the halls. Instead, Bella was on her own. And from that day on, she has never felt like the other kids. Numerous times over the past three years, Bella has come home saying that she feels like she’s the only one and that nobody understands how she feels. And she’s right. There isn’t a peer in her school that understands what she goes through moment to moment, day in and day out.
What we’ve discovered along this cruel journey is that, while there are ongoing support groups for bereaved parents, there is little offered for the surviving children.Thus, Friends of Aine was established.
We are raising funds to build centers of support, safety and compassion for the children who feel alone because their brother or sister or mother or father died too soon. These kids need a place to be with others like them that they can relate with and build long lasting relationships. Otherwise, they will never feel safe, they will never fit in and they will always feel alone. David and I can’t let that happen to our daughter or the other children. We need to help. Aine would want us to help.
Now you can help, too.