Tommy took the day off when I had my 28 week OB appointment. Since days off don’t come too often, we decided to take advantage and scheduled a meeting at the funeral home for that afternoon. After a tiring morning at the doctors, why not have a hard afternoon.
I’ve mentioned before that we wanted to go ahead and plan for the funeral things now. We don’t want to have to deal with it while we are deep in grief over losing our baby. And we don’t want to have to deal with planning when I am just days out of giving birth, if it should go that way. I want to again explain how we think of it because that is so important to us. We in no way see this as giving up hope. We are so hopeful that Gabriel will live for a little while. We are full of hope that God will bless us with time with Gabriel. But we are also acutely aware of the reality of our situation — that this syndrome is fatal. So eventually we will need these plans. It sucks. But it’s true. We are hoping that Gabriel will be just as stubborn as Tommy and me and will pull a “funeral plans, mom and dad? i’ll show you” and live for a nice long while 🙂 If we don’t need these plans for awhile, AWESOME. We have them when we do.
The meeting was very nice. Mainly because the man we met with was very kind and very good with us. I love Knoxville and let me tell you one of the reasons why. You find out that you know everyone somehow. I love it. I really missed that when I was in Maryland. Turns out that the man we met with knows my sister, and his sister is the director of Jack’s preschool program. Small world. Also, I found out that the mom of a friend who I grew up with works there, too. It was comforting to see her there also. So we were off to a good start feeling as comfortable as possible as you sit in a funeral home to discuss what will happen after your baby boy passes away.
Mainly, Tommy and I gathered information. We talked about what we wanted to do, we asked questions, and we listened as he shared information like how they would get the body whether at the hospital or at home. Things we needed to know. As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now reading this blog, I’m a planner. I don’t like to be caught off guard, so knowing details, even hard ones, is important to me. We talked for quite awhile and before we left this man asked if he could pray for us. This man who we hardly knew, but was so sympathetic and understanding as his family prepares to welcome their second baby into the world in a month or so. And he prayed for us, for our family, our sweet baby Gabriel. Tommy says it was another example of God lining our path with specific people. There has been a lot of that. I just can’t get over that the man at the funeral home prayed for our family right there in that hard place. I am thankful for him and thankful to God for the people we’ve met through this journey.
I have to mention the kind of day it was when we went. It poured all day long. Not just small amounts of rain, but storming, flooding roads, massive amounts of rain that was forecasted to turn to snow that night. When we walked into the funeral home it was pouring down. And as we sat there talking about these things all I wanted to do was to stand out in the rain and let the water pour over me. I felt like all I could do was stand outside, looking out at how our reality looks in this world, frozen in this moment of anguish while the cold rain washed me numb. But I sat there. And when we came out, it had stopped, and there was a little bit of light in the sky.
We left and drove over to one of the cemeteries we’re considering. We got out and walked around, taking it all in. And as we left I found myself catching my breath at the view. The view of the mountains was gorgeous [this picture hardly does it justice], but more than that, on this particular day the Great Smokey Mountains were full of smoke. It was rolling over the mountains as the clouds quickly passed over. The combination of the storm rolling through and clearing coming behind was breath taking. And I can’t help but relate that to our lives. As we walk through this storm, this season of suffering, sometimes it seems so dark, but there’s always clearing. There has been since the very beginning of this. It’s not the clearing I would choose. My choice of clearing would be a healthy baby boy who we get to raise along side his big brother. But that’s not our clearing. Our clearing has come through people being the hands and feet of Christ in our lives. It’s come through meals, messages, cards, paintings, gifts, ultrasounds, painted bedrooms, tears cried with us, kind doctors, love and support, prayers from so many. It’s come through renewed eyes that see the true beauty in life. It’s come from a stirring of something deep within that’s never existed before.
So what I’m learning is that God always brings joy alongside the suffering. And the joy is deeper than any I’ve known before. And it’s beautiful to see the pairing of pain and joy, and I’m thankful God has designed this unique alignment of the two. For the joy, the clearing, is what continues to propel us as another storm lines up on the horizon.