Today was the most bittersweet day of my life. We laid our sweet son to rest.
When James died in our arms on Monday afternoon, we knew that we would not be leaving him at the hospital or handing him over to someone else to care for him. We cared for him from the moment he was born, and we would continue to care for him after his life ended.
We brought him home on Monday afternoon. Thankfully, we had the Cuddle Cot at our house already, so it was prepared for him. We were able to hold him, talk to him, tell him all the things that we still wanted to tell him. His sisters were able to see him snuggled in the bed where he always slept. We were able to bathe him together, weep over his fragile body, dress him. These were the most beautiful things I’ve ever done for him.
We had a beautiful visitation all day on Tuesday. So many flowers, so much food, so many loved people arrived. James had visitors ranging from my colleagues and coworkers to his PICU nurses and therapists to old friends and family members.
Tonight, I feel peace. The home funeral and burial was the most beautiful thing that I have ever done. It was agony saying goodbye to my little boy, but it was amazing that I was able to care for him from the minute he was born to the minute we laid him to rest.
Amazingly, wondrously, while Jim and I sat with him by the fire pit before the funeral, there was a rainbow! We couldn’t believe. It was a clear, cold afternoon with no rain. Yet there was a rainbow. At the same time that we were listening to Over the Rainbow before the funeral. It makes me believe that James is still out there somewhere.
He taught me so many beautiful lessons and gave me so much to look forward to. I worked with the Mountain Area Pregnancy Services – which is a non-profit that helps women with “crisis pregnancies” like ours. They help with counseling, grieving, preparation. Today was their first experience with a home funeral for a baby, and they were quite simply amazed. I plan on volunteering with them in a few months to help other mothers struggling with similar circumstances, as well as to help raise awareness of the need for parents to grieve, to hold their babies, to say goodbye in their own time and in their own way.
We also plan to set up a scholarship at Hazel and Evaline’s preschool in honor of James. His teacher/the owner selflessly waived Hazel’s tuition this year, and since so many donated to our GFM account, we are going to give back with a scholarship for a student.
Jim and I are also talking about ways to help parents of the PICU and will be coming up with a plan to volunteer in some capacity in the next months.
We’ve also raised enough money for a Cuddle Cot for Mission Hospital (the other will stay with Mountain Area).
James’s short life was so full of gifts – gifts that I have received and will continue to receive. He changed me. He has shown me what matters, and he has shown me the person that I want to be. I want to serve others. I have never been a servant of others before, but I am trying now.
I know that my grief will be powerful for many years. I know already that it is like a tidal wave that will sweep me under without warning. James wouldn’t want me to be sad. He was the embodiment of love and contentment. Despite his struggles, he was never a fussy baby. He was always content to be with someone he loved. So I will embrace my grief, and I will use the power of my grief to help others, to carry on James’s loving heart. His legacy will last so much longer than his too short 5 months here.
To all that have blessed us in a thousand ways, thank you from the depths of our hearts.