Lyla’s Little Free Library

By: 
Jamie Hult, Staff writer

Megan and Matt Rollag created Lyla’s Little Free Library, part of the worldwide network of front-yard book exchanges. Look for the little pink house at 208 W. Hackberry St., Brandon. Jamie Hult/BV Journal

Neighborhood kids check out books from Lyla’s Little Free Library. “A new tradition for us,” said mom Hannah Weisman. “Lyla will forever be remembered.” Submitted photo

Couple build community book nook in daughter’s memory 
 
Pulling into her driveway after work and seeing messy shelves where little hands have been makes Megan Rollag happy. 
Since she and her husband, Matt, opened Lyla’s Little Free Library on Mother’s Day, more than 30 kids in the community have become regular customers at the front-yard book exchange. 
In the front pocket of the guestbook is a little history on the library’s namesake. 
Lyla Jane was born March 12, 2017. She was an even 5 pounds, with long fingers and toes. She looked just like Matt. But she was stillborn.
Rollag had a problem-free pregnancy. The day before she went into labor, she remembers the baby kicking throughout the diaper keg party friends and family threw for the father-to-be. 
That night the contractions were 10 minutes apart, and the couple went to the hospital. It was their first baby, and they were excited. 
Rollag was in labor when the baby’s heartbeat suddenly stopped. She hadn’t been in distress. There had been no warnings. It simply stopped. 
“I like to think she was just like any other newborn; she was just sleeping when she came out,” she said. 
Going through with the delivery after finding out the baby was dead, she said, was the scariest thing she’d ever had to do. 
“And to leave empty-handed when you see all these other babies and parents – there’s so much grief and the guilt and the shame,” Rollag said. “When you lose a child, you can’t help yourself – there are always all the could’ve, should’ve, would’ves.”
Three days later the couple learned that Lyla had suffered a placental infarction. Her blood supply had been cut off, and she died almost instantly. 
Rather than wallowing in her pain and grief, Rollag tried to focus on picking up the pieces and living as her daughter would have wanted.
“In her short time with us, Lyla gave us a lot of love, excitement and hope. I’m hoping in some way my tragedy can help someone else through their grief,” she said. “The thing I want people to know is that with loss – whether it’s a parent, marriage, a job – the best thing is to acknowledge the loss and not treat it like the elephant in the room. I lost my child, and what I’ve realized is that people aren’t reminding me that she died; they’re reminding me that her life was important, and that’s a beautiful gift.”
Rollag needed something to put her energy into, and she soon found it in one of her favorite pastimes, one she was looking forward to sharing with Lyla: reading.
“Matt and I have decided to build a free little library in honor of our perfect angel baby,” she posted on Facebook. “Just as Lyla gave us such love and delight, we hope her library does the same to the families in our neighborhood.”
Matt was struggling with how to comfort his wife, and the project gave him a way to do that.
“It was nice to do something for Lyla and for Megan,” he said. “Something to do in their honor.”
For Rollag, creating a children’s library felt like just the right way to let Lyla’s legacy live on.
“I think reading is a beautiful thing. It’s a good escape. It’s the closest thing to heaven I can think of,” she said. 
They held a celebration of Lyla’s life on May 12 and opened Lyla’s Little Free Library on May 13. Mother’s Day.
Donations from sorority sisters, family and other friends brought the collection to around 100 children’s books. Rollag rotates the titles every week. 
Eight-year-old Aubrey Fischer is one of the returning visitors.  
“They have really fun books I like to get,” she said. “And it honors a little girl that died and never got a chance to look at a book. We take a book and we put another book in.”
Rollag is finding healing through the little pink house.  
“It’s been such a joy and gift to myself. I look forward to coming home and looking to see if the books are disorganized,” she said with a smile. “Then I straighten them.” 
Lyla’s Little Free Library is part of the Little Free Library network, a worldwide movement with the motto “Take a book, leave a book.” It’s open to the public and located at 208 Hackberry Street. 
 

 

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The Brandon Valley Journal

 

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