There is nothing more beautiful and heartbreaking than to watch a father bathe the body of his newborn son after he has gone home to Jesus.
Eli's birth was surrounded by hurry and almost a sense of controlled chaos. Everything just happened so fast... After everyone left the hospital that night, Jamie and I began our vigil over Eli's body. I did not want to take my eyes off of him for one second. I wanted to memorize everything about him. We unwrapped him and explored his toes and feet, his hands, his unruly hair...we discovered a dimple on his chin (Jamie has dimples).
Jamie and I both wanted to make this time special. We both knew that we would not sleep. I wanted time to stand still for a little while. There was a storm raging outside and in my heart as well. I was playing tug of war with God this night. I did not want to give up my little boy. I was holding as tightly as I could to what was left...his little body. I know God already had him safely in his arms. I was just not ready and never would have been.
In our effort to make our time with Eli memorable, we knew there were things we wanted to do. It was important for us to do the things for him that we were able to do for our other children. Things you take for granted like changing diapers and bathing them. We asked the nurse to bring us the things we would need to do this. She was wonderful and thought of everything. She brought the things that we would need in and quietly left us. Jamie had decided that he wanted to give Eli his one and only bath and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. He was so gentle with his little body and talked to him the entire time he bathed him. Once he was bathed his daddy lotioned him down really good, put a fresh diaper on him, then dressed him. Oh, I can smell him now. Jamie and I took turns holding on to Eli that night. The only other time either one of us let him go was when the nurse came in to cut a lock of his hair, measure him and do things like this. She was so gentle with him when she did these things. I think we were both just clinging on for a little while longer at this point. It was so hard to let go. At some point between 3:00 and 4:00 the next morning, Jamie and I decided that we couldn't hold on anymore and that it would never get easier to let him go. The funeral home came around 4:10 to pick him up. I do not think there is anything harder for a mother or father to do than to hand the body of your baby over to someone to prepare them for burial. I said my goodbyes and kissed his little angel face, then gave him to Jamie. Jamie did the same and handed him to John from the funeral home. As long as I live, I will never forget him carefully and oh so gently placing his little body in the moses basket then pulling the blanket up to cover him. I can not even begin to describe how I felt when he left the room with him. I do remember Elysa, Eli's nurse, quoting scripture to us the entire time this was going on. I could not tell you what she was quoting for sure, I think maybe Psalms 23. My mind was in another place right then.
I do not know why God chose to make Eli's time here so brief. I know that there is purpose in everything He does. I wrestle with this it seems constantly. I am selfish and I want my child. This was not in the plans I had for my family. I was not supposed to have to watch my husband give his little boy his first and last bath. Or was I... God's plans for us do not always match the plans we have for ourselves.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord, and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.
This is one of those blog posts that I had to walk away from and come back to. My emotions are all over the place lately. These are memories that are forever etched in my mind. The NIV version for verse 11 of this passage says For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." In His own way, God did prosper us with Eli. He has given us precious memories of a miracle.
The composer J.B.F. Wright said it best
Precious mem'ries, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfold.
Precious mem'ries, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.
Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.
In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.
I remember mother praying
Father, too, on bended knee
Sun is sinking, shadows falling
But their pray'rs still follow me.
As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious mem'ries flood my soul.
Much Love and many tears tonight,