I'm trying to participate in "Walking with You" at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace. I missed the last two as they were about experiencing a difficult pregnancy and meeting our babies. While my pregnancy with Seth was high-risk and stressful for me in the amount of appointments and the uncertainty of his medical issues, once we knew he had HLHS, I felt assured that he would live. When he was born, our meeting was brief due to his being rushed off to NICU, but we had lots of time with him before he went to Heaven, months, and I thought we'd have longer. I did join in on the first one and you can read about our First Steps on our journey with Seth here.
So today Kelly suggested we share about saying goodbye and the memorial service. (How long do you have?). We said goodbye in stages and I've shared about some of it here on my blog as we journeyed through it. I've just spent way too much time reading through those posts trying to find one to link back to. Let's just leave it at read anything in October 2008, okay?
So, we asked for a DNR and put Seth on comfort care on October 2, 2008. I spent much time that afternoon tearfully calling family and friends telling them Seth was dying. My mom, sister, and dad who all live out of town, rushed to our sides. We didn't know how long we would have and I asked my mom & sister to make some preliminary phone calls, telling them I would like to have Seth buried in "BabyLand" at the cemetery closest to our home.
Leland and I basically moved into the hospital during that time. I was so grateful and Seth's last night with us, he spent in my arms. That was extremely special for me because, while I had slept at night with ALL my babies in my arms at some point or another, I didn't often get to with Seth. He was on a g-tube and a continuous feed at night and that made it difficult to cuddle him at home as the tube would pop out and leak, etc. So I got to hold and cuddle Seth the entire night, from midnight (when the nurses and Leland called and had me rush back to his room) until 5:30am, when Seth went from my arms to the arms of Jesus. That was Sunday morning, October 12, 2008. After phone calls to family and close friends, Leland and I packed up our
hotel hospital room and went home without our baby.
We told our big boys that their brother was now in Heaven. Our pastor and his lovely wife came to our house that afternoon. I was and am so grateful for the gentleness and kindness of our pastor as he guided us through planning a memorial service. We offered some suggestions for scripture we would like to have used, Leland and I picked the worship songs we wanted to sing. My mom and dad ordered the casket from Trappist caskets. It was hand carved and prayed over by monks.
As I look back on it, I wish we had thought to do a balloon release. Other than that, I have no regrets. I remember actually being shocked at the number of people who were there and SO thankful. Several of the hospital staff attended, a few of Seth's doctors were there. Mostly though, I remember being numb. There was an element of "I can't believe we're doing this". At times, it just felt like going through the motions.
I remember the day of the visitation & burial and the memorial service almost in "snapshot" moments. The boys and I picked out items for them to give Seth. Cary picked a small stuffed animal. Sean wrote Seth a letter. Together the boys and I went to the florist and bought flowers for the burial, because Cary had specifically asked if he could pick out the flowers. (Cary had also asked if Seth could be buried in our backyard!) At the cemetery, our pastor did a short graveside service. I remember that Leland walked off for a bit, overcome with emotion. My friend, Cathey moved up to sit with me.
At the memorial service, I remember Cary crying through the slide show. I don't remember much of the actual service, which makes me sad. I do remember walking out to the parking lot at the end of the service. We were almost last as I remember not wanting to leave the church. As I think about it now, I didn't want it to be over. It felt like our last chance to publicly remember Seth and I didn't want it to end.
I don't have much to recommend in the way of resources. Kelly offered quite a few suggestions at the bottom of her post. We did receive quite a few books and I can recommend some of them. My FAVORITE book was Things Unseen by Mark Buchanan (and given to us by our pastor). Also read From Grief To Glory by James Bruce. I also signed up for the daily emails from GriefShare, and I still receive those and find them helpful.
I only have one real prayer request. Well, beside the "usual" which is for fully restored joy. I long to find a ministry to honor Seth. I don't know what it looks like but I almost envy Kelly for Sufficient Grace Ministries. I yearn to do something like Micah House. But mostly I want to do what God wants us to do to honor our boy and our journey. Prayerfully, we'll find it.