Friday, November 7, 2008

Weeping Hornbeam

After James' death, Wade and I made many tough decisions; decisions that we were not prepared for nor capable of making. In the hospital, many pastors visited us. Pastors from our church at the time, pastors from my childhood church, and pastors from my school's church all gathered around us at the hospital to pray for us and our sweet James. Those prayers were important to us and guided us in our first decision to have James baptized.

April 2, 2008 we had James baptized in the hospital. I don't know if that made sense to anyone else but us; we knew James was already with our Lord, and we wanted to have him blessed in this special ceremony. My hospital room was filled with pastors, my favorite nurse, and Dr. B. Our families listened and waited in the hallway. Wade and I held our precious angel in our hands and admired him during his baptism. We were so thankful to have the opportunity to hold him again and see him.

The Baptist nurses were incredible during our stay and departure and made many tough decisions for us. They presented us with a sweet quilted bag full of James' belongings, his tiny blue dress and hat, his blanket, his little lamb, a golden ring (which I wear sometimes around my neck), his footprints and measurements, some pictures, and lots of information on grieving.

One of the hardest conversations we experienced was with the chaplain of the hospital. We had to decide what to do with our dear James. Wade and I were not prepared to make this decision. We didn't know anything about funeral homes or the whole process. The chaplain assured us that we had plenty of time and that they would keep James safe and sound until we were ready.

A few weeks later, Wade had a wonderful idea to plant a tree at Cheekwood, a Botanical Garden, in honor of James. We wanted a safe place that we could always visit and remember our sweet baby boy for the rest our lives. On April 28 in the Robinson Water Garden at Cheekwood, we gathered around a beautiful Weeping Hornbeam (seen above), planted in honor of our special son. Before the service started, Wade and I spread James' ashes under the tree and prayed for him. Then one of my childhood pastors, K.C., led a Committal Service remembering James Walter. First he shared some scripture readings (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 23, Matthew 19:14). Then my precious sister read a letter written by my brother-in-law, who is a pastor in North Carolina and was not able to be there. This letter was given to me and Wade a few days after we lost James. It was wrapped in a delicate handkerchief and tied with a ribbon. It is the most meaningful and heartfelt letter that we have ever received, and my sister was so brave and dear to share it at the service. We ended the service with the Lord's Prayer and two songs, The Lark Ascending and You Are My Sunshine (I sang this song to James in the hospital), played on the violin.

It was a gorgeous day in April and a perfect service for our little James. On the back of the program, a traditional Gaelic blessing was printed. For the first month after I lost James, I repeated this blessing in my head; it was very comforting and provided hope for the future.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wade & Love

Lately, I have wrestled with the idea of love and how it can hurt to love someone so much and then lose them. Love is probably the most precious gift that God has given us--the ability to love one another. First, there is the love for our parents (children, siblings, grandparents, pets, etc.), an unconditional love. We are born with this love; it is so natural and easy (most of the time). It can bring us the greatest joy and the deepest pain throughout life. Then there is the love for our friends, which is more conditional; sometimes this love comes and goes, and it is not always natural.

There is also the love that joins a couple in marriage. I believe that God has created this love. Through your commitments to one another, you vow to be partners throughout life, to support each other, and to grow in your faith together as a family.

God has blessed me with that kind of love. Eight years ago I was lucky enough to meet Wade, and I realized immediately that he was different than other guys. Besides being extremely handsome, he has the best personality and outlook on life. He is definitely a glass half-full kind of guy and the most humble person that I know. He is calm while I can be (just a little) over-emotional. He is passionate about the environment, plants, trees, etc. while I am more passionate about education and the arts. His faith is strong and secure while I tend to worry. I love what he teaches me daily and the way that our personalities compliment each others.

For the last four and half years of marriage, I thought I understood our wedding vows. We were supporting each other and growing as partners. However, God had bigger plans for our marriage and lives. He blessed us with James. I know that it is hard to talk about and believe in 'silver linings'. However, I believe that James gave us many gifts and will continue to the rest of our lives. James taught his parents how to love.

I had no idea how wonderful my husband really was. Yes, I find him attractive physically, and I love his personality and intelligence. However, the way that he took care of me and opened-up emotionally during that week in the hospital and the many weeks that followed was the greatest gift. I did not know we were capable of loving each other that much. He knew exactly what I needed and was right by my side through it all. He held my hand, climbed into my hospital bed to hold me, talked with our visitors, and took notes on my medication. He was completely there for me throughout those awful days and weeks trying to help me heal physically, when I know he was broken mentally and emotionally. He was completely selfless and available. I cannot even imagine what it was like for him to go to work every day and come home to me every night. His strength was extraordinary.

I am just so overwhelmed with love and thankful for the many gifts that God has given us. God's love is the ultimate gift. He loves us, even though we sin and have many flaws (even Wade has a few). That is what makes us human, I guess. If only we could love like God--then maybe it wouldn't hurt so much when we lose the ones we love.