The Story of Clara

This is Clara Ellen Zlatkin, our beloved third-born baby girl, delivered to us on June 26th, 2015. As the world around us was cleaning up the path of destruction left by 85-mile an hour winds from a record-breaking storm, we were rushing to the hospital, anticipating the birth of our angel. Clara came into the world and truly was the rainbow after the storm. We should have known from the very start that her purpose would be to bring peace and comfort to those around her.

Clara was with us for a very short 14 months, but it was filled overwhelmingly with love, contentment, and pure delight. When she was born, Marc and I were filled with a sense of completeness—that all was right with the world and within our little family. Our older daughters, Kayla and Lily, were filled visibly with pride as they cared for baby Clara, fully embracing their roles as Big Sisters, sometimes acting more like mom than sister. Looking back in pictures, I can see how this time in our lives was our happiest; our smiles were never as bright. For Clara was one of those joyful, easy babies who looked like a cherub, was quick to smile, and loved being around family and friends. We cherished each of her milestones—watching her first few teeth come in, taking those wobbly steps as she tried to keep up with her sisters, and hearing her babble “Dada” and “Mama.” Clara was our own personal mascot as we hastily went from one extracurricular activity to the next or attended birthday parties, family functions, and work events. Even in the chaos of a young family’s life, Clara made people fall in love with her with her big blue eyes and generous smile. And this continued to be the way as we traveled to New York over the holidays, the New Jersey shore for long summer days, and beyond. We relished simple days in our comfy clothes, lounging around the house, just as much as we cherished our long summer days at our family pool. We knew we were living a good life, and we thanked God for it. We were grateful.

Then came September 11th, 2016. After a seemingly typical summery day at the pool, we went home and put our three little girls to bed. Little did we know this was our last day of normalcy, of feeling complete, and of feeling truly happy. After suffering several strokes in the middle of that night, which came without warning, and despite the heroic efforts of first responders and specialists, our baby girl passed on September 14th with us by her side.

Months later, amid debilitating grief and endless prayer, Marc and I finally realized that Clara’s purpose had always been to act as the Rainbow after the Storm. Going through such a devastating tragedy and being on the receiving end of ongoing love and support from family, friends, and community members led us to this realization. Believing that there is a higher purpose for such beauty and devastation in one’s life is the only way Marc and I can continue to move forward without our baby girl. Though we continue to struggle each and every day in one form or another, we hold steadfast to the beliefs that Clara’s life was meaningful, that she will never be forgotten, and that she has shown us through the kindness of others that goodness prevails even in the darkest hour. In death, our little one has instilled in us the will and desire to pay it forward and to support other families as they mourn a beloved child. In Clara’s honor, we will help to provide these families with as much peace and comfort after the storm as humanly possible.

We love you, sweet Clara Ellen, forever more.