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.