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    Posted December 30, 2014 by
    Savannah, Georgia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Those we lost in 2014

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    Two Small feet, Larger Than Life Foot Print.


    Olivia Anne Butler. She may have only been a month shy of her 11th birthday, but she left a legacy and impact on those around her, greater than those who may live 50, 70, 80 years.


    Olivia was autistic and non-verbal. Being non-verbal did not stop this little girl. Olivia was the light of the party, and when she entered a room it was with a giant happy squeal and a clap.


    Olivia loved Glee. She owned four seasons on DVD. Olivia also loved attending girls' yoga classes, teasing her siblings, and stealing handfuls of food while mom wasn't looking.


    Cheerful, sweet, full of hugs, Olivia loved life. She learned early on that she could escape doing school work by stopping, staring into the eyes of her helpless therapists or teachers, and with a huge grin and giggle she would reach in for a hug. Olivia squealed with self-approval, knowing she'd pulled the wool over her teachers' eyes.


    Just as her love and giggles were infectious and everlasting, so too were her crystal blue eyes. From the time she was an infant, until she was a "big girl", people would stop me and comment on her captivating, sparkling eyes. Often the comments included something like, "it's as if you could stare into them forever." Who knows? Maybe we really were staring directly into Heaven?


    Before Olivia passed away, I would occasionally receive messages, emails, phone calls, from friends and acquaintances who told me they felt inspired by Olivia. By watching me parent her, they personally vowed to be better people, live better lives, strive to be better parents. I would brush it off casually, coyly.


    I still receive the same messages and emails from people, now after her death. I am awed by the footprint one little girl has left. In all of this, I have learned that I was merely LUCKY to be her mom.


    I get to be the mother of a true angel. Olivia.


    Never as a mother did I expect to lose one of my babies. I must say, though, Olivia knew how to shake things up while she was here and so it seems oddly fitting that in her death she continues to shake us up as we ponder the meaning of life and loss.


    I love you, my darling, and I miss you every day.


    Olivia was born July 2nd, 2003. Olivia had gone to spend weekend visitation with her father on Friday, May 16th, 2014. She drowned in the bathtub Friday evening and spent the next two days in PICU. Olivia passed away on Sunday, May 18th, 2014, at Memorial Hospital's PICU, in Savannah, GA. The coroner's report says her death was due to accidental drowning.


    Ever since I received that phone call on May 16th, and set foot in the PICU, things that previously seemed important faded away. While we were in the hospital, I could barely eat any food as my mind and energy were on helping my girl. People would bring me coffee and I would sip it and then go back to holding and talking to Olivia. And since that weekend, I feel I have existed in a bubble. While people continue to rush about from point A to point B, I quietly and peacefully exist in the present. I savor each bite of each meal. I put down my phone, I ignore Facebook and text messages, I play with her siblings. We just relax and breathe together.


    When Olivia died, a part of my existence died too. That sadness has forced me, and so many of the other people who knew Olivia, to sit back and just be.

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