To family and friends she was "Lulu," though her given name was Olivia. Her family says Lulu brought joy into their world every day of her life for just four short years.
"It was almost impossible not to smile when you were in her presence. She was the center. She was the center of our household we all adored her," said Lulu's mother, Gretchan Pyne, 41.
Lulu, 4, was killed in a tragic accident three years ago near her family home in Wareham, Mass. Her parents and brothers, twins Andrew and Dylon, now 12, watched as a family trip to an ice-cream parlor turned into the worst day of their lives.
"She stood at the base of this industrial bicycle rack and she did what we called her Vanna White pose ... 'Ta Da, look at the beautiful rainbow' ... and actually it was a double rainbow," Lulu's father, Warren Pyne, 41, remembered. "The bicycle rack wasn't chained to the ground and it toppled over and it fell on her and it severed her heart."
Working Through the Grief
Gretchan Pyne says the fatal accident left a void in their lives which will never be filled.
"This type of grief isn't something you wake up and say, 'OK, I'm over it.' It's something that you work through every day," she said.
She says she copes by writing about the special moments that made up her daughter's short life.
One of Gretchan's favorite memories of her daughter reveals Lulu's joyful spirit. On a particularly gray day one spring, Gretchan felt down about the weather. She says her daughter sensed her gloomy mood and begged her to put on her little pair of rose-colored glasses.
"I finally relented and I put on her rose-colored glasses and I was amazed at how my perception of the world changed that day," Gretchan remembered. "At the end of the day I asked her if I could have her rose-colored glasses and she, just 3 years old, said, 'No, Mama, you need to find your own.'"
Gretchan says her memories are what inspired her to write a children's book called "Lulu's Rose Colored Glasses." She says she hopes the book will help others struggling with grief and those who need a reminder to enjoy every minute of their lives.
"Lulu did teach me that I could be happy again and not only for myself but to carry her with me and that's the greatest way to honor her," Gretchan said. "I just know that she's up there just dancing and singing and just joyous. Very joyous."
To find out more about "Lulu's Rose Colored Glasses," go to lulubellebooks.com.