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Real Experiences Series – Meeting My Deceased Son
NOTHING could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. It was after 22:00 when we were waiting in the pre-op room. My wife lay there and danced between denying the situation to the nursing staff, sometimes in detached banter, some of it light. her belly had a distinct shape so that I could see the outline of our infant, motionless, motionless the whole time.
As I talked with the others, and as my wife lay shaking with shock and fever from the infection, I massaged her abdomen; the shape of my son’s left side, hip and thigh, recognizable. I found myself strangely aware of everything that was going on; strangely calm considering my son had died hours before. In fact, when I faced these endless moments, I found God who is there with me and gives me the strength to be real. And it wasn’t hard to be real. Through it all, my wife was very real, despite the rising fever that appeared.
And “through it all” was a hymn to us, when this season might have been rather a curse to the enemy of God, who would seek us in piles driven into the ground; a time when God’s Presence transcended any dull abode. “Through it all I keep my eyes on you… it’s good…” were the words of the song we played twice during the birthing process, through the tears of longing for eternity and through the terrible anticipation of what was just before. us as an unprecedented experience.
I will never forget the moments leading up to Nathanael’s birth. It was a long C-section (compared to my previous four babies who were born that way). The mood in the theater was harsh. Silence, except for Kristene DiMarco’s voice and her ethereal music. No one wanted to mention the elephant in the room. My response was to issue grace – heaven knows we all needed it.
Every time we felt movement in my wife’s belly as the surgeons manipulated the tissues, we braced ourselves for the moment of Nathanael’s actual arrival. We seemed to be preparing in several iterations. The medical team tried to get Nathanael into a position where they could pull him out. When they finally delivered him, our midwife instructed me. She wrapped my walking hands in a towel. When I got up from the stool I was sitting on, I was greeted by a surgeon who gave me my son. As with the birth of all my children, nothing could have prepared me for the emotions I felt now. But this moment was different. There was no sense of positive pressure amidst the joy of caring for a child. There was no eye contact or interaction from the surgeon. The moment was idle; something empty. It was an incredibly sad moment for which courage was taken.
I grabbed Nathanael with both hands – my boy, almost 8 pounds every bit, which was very healthy for being 36 weeks and 2 days pregnant – and immediately kissed him on the forehead; kiss of desire His skin had a peculiar smell. He had a frown on his face. He looked like his older brother, only asleep. I just wanted to hold him. I took him to Sarah and we both cried for a while. The operations staff just went about their business and left us alone. We were not rushed. Nathanael and I spent the first 3 hours including bathing and dressing in my wife’s maternity suite.
In such moments, life and time stand still. Nothing else matters. And you will get a distinct impression that your life has changed forever; a very surreal feeling requiring surrender. But strangely, I was also so happy to meet Nathanael this way. God has been good in sustaining me and us when we might have been so overwhelmed with emotion that we didn’t make the most of the moment.
Later that morning—literally just five hours later—the whole family was present while Heartfelt took pictures for us. It was a difficult experience for several members of our family, but everyone did their best and that’s what everyone can ask. We were so proud of our family the whole time.
One thing I learned in my darkest hour,
I certainly wasn’t the one holding the power
By faith alone I had God’s grace,
Because I went obediently seeking his face.
© 2015 SJ Wickham.
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