How do we say goodbye when we never got to say hello? But that is our task today – to say goodbye.
This past week we’ve been in the practice of capturing a lifetime of memories. We’ve had seven days to pack 25,000 into. The 179 hours since Nathanael arrived – lifeless – have changed our lives forever; probably in some ways that many of you will never know. We sympathise with many of you who have endured what we are currently experiencing – the death of your own child.
Memory-making on a time schedule is tough work. We’ve had to be creative. I just wish I could record somehow how he smells, the texture of his skin, his weight as I held him, his little and cute features.
On Monday I laid down on the hospital room floor and slept with Nathanael cradled in my arms. I’ve kissed his face hundreds of times, but that will be far short of how much I’ve kissed my other children’s faces. Even though there were endless interruptions from midwives doing obs, giving medications, changing drips, etc, among the doctors and myriads of health professionals visiting us, we still had plenty of opportunity to bond with our son the best we could. But then, as death reminds us, there is never enough time. There is never enough time.
One week is all too quick, but it’s much more time than my mother and father got when my little sister, Debra Leanne, was stillborn on 21st September 1973. Sarah and I honour you for the circumstances of your loss 41 years ago and the grief you’ve carried with you all these years. It’s sacred. Things have come a long, long way since then, but we have learned this week that there’s some way still to go in getting parents the respect their infants deserve – especially in the case of a baby known to have special needs and an extremely poor prognosis for life.
Time has slipped away and we have what we have – the knowledge that we wasted none of our time. As I peered into his face, his little cleft lip, his button nose, and his closed eyes and face at peace, my eyes welled with tears. I’d pray. I’d watch on as Sarah melted in tears and groaned as only a mother could understand and comprehend. Sarah’s strength through all this has been something I’ve marvelled at. I don’t think I know a stronger person than her.
Nathanael’s spirit is gone to inhabit Jesus and now we say goodbye to his tent.
All we will have to show for him are some photos, some memorabilia, and some items of clothing. It feels like we’ve known him longer than the 30-odd weeks we’ve known him. Most of that time – eighteen of those weeks – we have been sitting on a time bomb. And many of you have followed along faithfully with us in our journey. We thank you.
Nathanael Marcus is our shining gift of God. He shines in heaven as we speak. He sits at Jesus’ feet. He is in the Father’s hands. His protection is Divine. His purpose is the glory of God.
Yet, we miss him so!
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.