Here it is. The post I’ve been avoiding for a few weeks. After the last exciting post, I’ve truly dreaded writing this one. My heart aches daily and I can’t fix it. If you’re my friend on Facebook, this is old news by now. Little Christopher, the blessing I delivered on July 12th, went home to be with Jesus on July 22nd.
While I am grateful for the 10 days we all got to love on him, I have struggled every day since then to understand why, how, and what if. I’ve been a part of his life both in and out of the womb for the past 8 months and now I feel like I’ve lost another child. According to all of the paperwork, I’ve lost a grandchild. Lexi listed me as her mother. As big of a responsibility and honor as that role is, I’m at a loss trying to comfort her when I’m grieving so deeply myself. I love her and I know she knows it. God help me to love her like she needs me to.
I said in the last post that some things are too sacred to share, and some are just too private, but I can tell you this: Little Chris got an infection in his umbilical stump inside of his body after his cord fell off. By the time he was admitted to the hospital, the infection had spread and surgery was required. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver where they did everything they could for him, but he died the next day. I can’t say any more. It makes the top 5 worst days of my adult life.
Gathering around a table to remember what we’ve been given and to celebrate life is fairly normal for my family, so we held a memorial service for Little Chris at the park in Boulder, underneath the library. There were about 20 people there: some street friends, volunteers from Stand Up for Kids, a few close friends, and of course our family and summer interns. We played a slide show of the pictures we had taken of him, and lit a candle for each day of his short life. Everyone was given an opportunity to say a few words, and I choked my way through my brief speech. We ended our time together in a circle of prayer, and at Lexi’s request, a group scream. You had to be there.
I had strewn small river rock over the table, so we invited everyone to take a pebble with them or throw one in the creek that rushes by the library. I scooped up 11 pebbles, and one by one, my friend Nesti and I threw them into the creek as reminders: one each for love, healing, hope, friends, family, community, peace, joy, strength, and the promise of seeing him again someday. I kissed the 11th stone and asked Little Christopher to please tell my sweet baby that I love her and that I’ll see her someday too, and I aimed for the rapids and let it fly. Nesti and I stood there and cried together for awhile. As I was beginning to calm down, Benny pulled me into a hug, kissed me, and whispered that he too had thrown a rock in for our baby. I love that man!
The cremation was a few days later and nothing prepares you for that experience. I had to sign a waiver to be present at the cremation, and now I understand why. The mortuary was wonderful to us and they tried to prepare us the best they could, but it was a jarring experience and one I hope never to repeat. Every one of us that was present at his birth was present at his cremation. We all decorated the box he was cremated in, and wrote letters to him. I poured my heart out in a 3 page letter, then sealed it and watched as Lexi placed it inside. I said what I needed to say, and there was a little healing in that for me. It was difficult to watch Chris (Little Christopher’s dad) go between silently pulling into himself and weeping. We all grieve so differently. I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him everything would be O.K. when I myself was feeling the sharp sting of death. I think we all did a pretty good job of encouraging each other through that day, and what had begun as friends 3 weeks earlier, brought us close together and made us family.
Today I received a package in the mail for Lexi and Chris – molds of Little Christopher’s hands and feet – a gift from Children’s Hospital. We’ll open it together when I see them on Wednesday, and there will be more tears (probably mine) as another milestone passes. I hope tomorrow will be a little easier than today.
My sincerest thanks goes out to Bob Flory, the director of Pastoral Care at Children’s Hospital Colorado, all of the wonderful nurses and doctors from Boulder Community Hospital and Children’s Hospital, and John DeMers of Crist Mortuary in Boulder. These people were kind and supportive during this horrible time. God bless you all!
To my fellow grievers and friends who have loved us through this tragedy, thank you for not letting us walk this path alone!