My Silly Lilly

All children are special. All children are unique. Each of my children is my favorite child. Today, I want to take a moment to celebrate the life of my daughter, Lilly. She is eighteen years old today.

Lilly was born in Richmond, VA. She had a beautiful headful of dark hair and dark blue eyes that eventually turned hazel. When she was three days old, Lilly quit breathing, once at home, with the very traumatic experience of fire engines, ambulances and CPR techniques, and twice again at the hospital. She stayed in the hospital for a week and on a monitor for almost a year. The medical community’s best diagnosis was a captured SIDS episode caused by low motility in her esophagus (abnormal contractions of the esophageal body) and hypertonia (an increase in muscle tension with reduced ability for muscles to stretch) in her neck/shoulder girth area.

As a toddler, Lilly had a wild mane of thick gorgeous hair and a deep husky voice. She was beautiful inside and out. People would stop me on the street and want to talk about her. I heard it all from strangers – she was an angel, she had a gift, she had an aura around her, she was special. And she was special, our silly Lilly beans.

Her nickname, “Silly Lilly,” was given by her preschool teacher, Donna Corbelli. Lilly loved to laugh or quietly play the straight man to a prank. Many a day, I caught her sneaking cookies, vehemently denying her guilt as cookie crumbs spilled out of her mouth.

Lilly frightened us again when she was almost 11 . She developed an unusual childhood illness called HSP (Henoch-Schönlein Purpura). It is normally a benign illness, a self-limiting condition that settles after a few days or less likely weeks, but not for our Lilly. She spent two weeks in the hospital, enduring numerous, ominous predictions of her imminent demise and countless tests. At one point, she was stuck 21 times as they tried to find a vein for an I.V. They finally settled on placing it in her neck as she was vomiting blood the entire time. It took her two years to fully recover.

Lilly is one of the bravest people I know. She lives life with a confidence and courage that I rarely see around me. She knows who she is and more importantly she knows and loves her Creator. Lilly is a picture of calm and anyone who has spent time with her can attest to her natural, reassuring presence. She spends a lot of time sitting at the feet of Jesus and it quietly, subtly radiates from her.

She is a superb cook and baker. She loves music, theater, the arts and the hunt for a new and exciting cultural event. She is a self-taught seamstress. She has dressed with a flair beyond her years since she could say, “No, I want to wear this, not that!” She has taught herself to play numerous instruments. I love to listen to her at the end of a long day as she pours her heart and soul into a song at the piano. When she plays, it is not mechanical; it is an experience of feeling the emotions and the power in every note written.

Lilly is an amazing young woman. I am proud to call her my daughter and friend. I love her very much.

You inspire me to love more, rest easier, laugh often, go with the flow, embrace what life brings my way and to cherish who I am because of Who created me!

Happy 18th Birthday, Lilly!


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  1. Linda says:

    Lilly is a treasure! And you are a very gifted writer! HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lilly!!! I hope you have an awesome day!

    1. Linda,

      Lilly says thank you Juliet and she loves you!

  2. Denise says:

    She is so beautiful. Thank you for this lovely tribute to her! Happy birthday, Silly Lilly Beans (love that!)

    1. Denise,

      Lilly thanks you for the birthday wishes! I know, great nickname! And I agree, beautiful inside and out!

  3. Phyllis says:

    Happy birthday to our beautiful, talented, sweet, wonderful daughter and sister and granddaughter. Hard to believe you are 18. We love and miss you. Have a wonderful blessed day LIlly. Love mamaw and pap.

    1. Mama and Pap,

      Lilly says she loves and misses you too! And thanks for the kind words!

  4. Laura S. says:

    That was really beautiful, Jamie. Happy Birthday Lilly!

  5. A reply from Donna Corbelli- Aww, how sweet! You know as a teacher I have had bazillions of children cross my path, but there are only a handful who I will always remember. Your Lilly is one of those. I looked forward to seeing her every day, as she just plain made me smile! She had an infectious giggle with an angelic grin one moment and a devilish grin the next. Yep, my kinda kid! It was impossible not to feel the sparks of love and and curiosity and SPUNK that illuminated Silly Lilly. Congrats on raising such an incredible family, and HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY LILLY,

  6. Mandy Frederick says:

    Happy Birthday, Lilly! We are looking forward to seeing what the Lord does in and through you over the coming years. Many blessings to you this year.

    1. Thank you wonderful Frederick family!

  7. auntbyrd@hotmail.com says:

    Jamie, I read this post with tears of joys in my eyes! Eighteen years ago you allowed me to share the great privilege of experiencing the birth of our remarkable, extraordinary Lillian Rose Irwin. Love her and you-and all ya’ll. Happy Birthday beautiful, !
    sweet Lilly

    1. auntbyrd@hotmail.com says:

      (so full of tears I couldn’t spell or punctuate correctly 😉

    2. You are so very special to us! We love you and Lilly thanks you for the birthday wishes! She loves her Wa Wa!

  8. I remember little Lilly has an infant at Brighton Green Pool when I was lifeguarding. I remember her with oxygen or some kind of medical equipment that looked scary at the time. Her brothers and sister doted on her along with the rest of the community. I can’t believe that was 18 years ago…wow! Boy did she grow up to be a beauty and one special young lady. Happy Birthday Lilly and congratulations to you for being a rock star mom and raising such gems. 🙂
    Colleen Knopke (Lucas)

    1. Colleen,
      Thanks for the kind words and birthday wishes for Lilly! Brighton Green will always hold a dear place in our hearts, one of the best times ever! All of you lifeguards were so special and wonderful!

  9. she was an infant. 🙂 oops, not HAS an infant…

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