A Fierce Burst Of Love Pays It Forward


Tomorrow, December 19th, would have been our granddaughter McKinlee’s first birthday.

My stepdaughter and her family packed their bags and headed for a beach for the week. They will celebrate and mourn McKinlee’s life with both a beautiful view and unfamiliar surroundings.

McKinlee wasn’t here very long, but her time was fierce. She fought every day of her life and let people know in no uncertain terms she was in charge. McKinlee had a unique spirit that was impossible to deny.

Haley wants to honor McKinlee’s spirit on her birthday by helping other families who have babies struggling with congenital heart disease.

This year, in honor of McKinlee’s birthday, Haley would like to introduce Timmy. Timmy is the recipient of a donor heart and has a long road of recovery in front of him. Timmy’s facebook page can be found here. If you would like to donate please do so here. 

The cost associated with caring for a child with CHD can be devastating. The pain and uncertainty that goes with watching a child struggle is breathtaking. Having to worry about how to pay for even basic supplies is intolerable.

I am proud of my stepdaughter in a way I find hard to express. I am in awe of her.

She lives with a permanently broken heart, but she uses her experience to help other families as they watch their little ones fight CHD. She doesn’t run from her pain, she rushes headlong into it. It is not hard to figure out where McKinlee got at least part of her radiant spirit.

Haley encouraged me to share a picture of McKinlee with you. Here is one of my favorites:mckinlee

Thank you, as always, for reading. If you wouldn’t mind sharing as well I would be grateful. If you chose to donate to Timmy’s campaign, please leave a birthday message for McKinlee.

As Haley says, we can’t buy McKinlee gifts for her birthday, but we can do this.


Add your comments below. Profanity is encouraged, but not required. ;)
  1. Haley says:

    Timmy’s crowdwise is down momentarily. We linked to his mom’s paypal, while issue gets resolved. If you wish to leave Mckinlee a happy birthday message, please leave it here. I know we would love to see it.

  2. Happy birthday to Mckinlee. I think honoring her memory is such a beautiful way to spread love.

  3. Sweet beautiful McKinlee, your strength lives on through your family. Your life will have ripples and impact because of the love you gave them. Happy Birthday sweet girl <3

  4. What a beautiful way to honor McKinlee’s life. I wish you peace in the days ahead.

  5. Lizzie says:

    Happy birthday McKinlee. You are loved.

  6. Patience says:

    Happy birthday precious McKinlee. Your sweet life has left a great impact on me. You’re in my thoughts. Love you…..

  7. Beth says:

    I lost a daughter after only a few days 34 years ago. Time doesn’t matter because Rebecca is with me everyday, several times a day. The acute pain passes but the mourning does not.

    I wish your step-daughter , her family, and you, dear Grandma, peace and love.


  8. Happy Birthday sweet McKinlee. You are surrounded by love.

  9. Vanessa says:

    Happy 1st Birthday, beautiful McKinlee! I wish all of your loving family comfort and peace on your special day.

  10. BarbaraM says:

    If you only knew how many hearts you touched during your brief stay with us. I hope that you have a very Happy Birthday and that your family finds peace and calm.

  11. lisa thomson says:

    Happy birthday, McKinlee. You life though short, is helping others and your spirit lives on. I’m so sorry for your loss, Michelle. Haley, there are no words to express so sending hugs out to you.

  12. Doug in Oakland says:

    They say that the mark of a successful life is that you leave the world better than you found it in your own way, and McKinlee did just that.
    Here’s to better times ahead.

  13. Lily says:

    Happy birthday, sweet McKinlee.

    “She’s in the sun,
    the wind, the rain,
    she’s in the air
    you breathe with
    every breath you take.
    She sings a song
    of hope and cheer,
    there’s no more pain,
    no more fear.
    You’ll see her in
    the clouds above,
    hear her whisper
    words of love,
    you’ll be together
    before long, until then
    listen for her song”- anonymous

    Lighting a candle for McKinlee!

  14. Mandi says:

    Sweet McKinlee, your spirit lives on through all who loved you. Your short life has made a lifelong impact on me and all of those who know your story. I wish for peace for your family. May you whisper your presence when they need to feel you.

  15. Oh Michelle, so poignant. I look into McKinlee’s face and see an old soul. Not sure why she was taken so young, but she was. I’m so sorry for your loss, but please know how many people are there for you and your family right now.

  16. Happy birthday to McKinlee. She is an angel shining down on you forever.

  17. emelle says:

    What a gorgeous heartbreaker she was! All the love to you and Haley and everyone else impacted by her loss.

    (or should I have said, “Holy Fucking Shit, what a bitchin’ beauty!”? Too much? Same sentiment, really, but, you know, with cussin’) XO

  18. Pat says:

    Sweet baby McKinley Happy Birthday. Haley must be a remarkably strong woman to turn a heartbreaking tragedy into goodness and hope for other families. So sorry for all of your loss.

  19. Jen Mann says:

    Happy Birthday, McKinley! You are so loved and so missed, but never forgotten.

  20. Mary-Anne says:

    Done in honour of you and your blog and dear little McKinley. A knitting friend of mine is making little knitted monkeys to raise awareness and support for chd babies. When I find the link I will send it to you.

  21. Christopher says:

    I’m late getting to this, but McKinlee deserves to be remembered every day, and will be.
    She also had a strong, loving family, but even the strongest, most loving families need help, and I’m glad to give.