I held him in my arms just as I had a million times before.
But this time I cried different tears. Saltier and more severe, the tears of a dying mother. No, the tears of a mother holding her dying child. But it felt a lot like I was dying. His body was heavier than before. He lay still.
I’m sorry this is hard to read. But the truth is, It’s been stirring in me, those last moments.
How blessed I am to know though. To have the chance to hold him that last time. To say goodbye.
As my tears wet his little face, I leaned down and smelled his sweet head. Gently rubbing my cheeks against his soft, curly hair.
Jeff sang beautiful worship into the room, but in my mind he was singing only to Thao. His voice was strong and breaking. His faith seemed unwaivering. His stature was that of a loving father, bravely lifting up his son. Leading us into this holy moment, ushering us into the presence of God as he had so many times before. But this time, this time was different. A different kind of sacred. How could something so beautiful hurt so badly?
I held tight. My heart cried out to God. I knew He could make it right. “We surrender our son into your arms, Lord, but please don’t make us give him up.”
The doctors gave up, knowing that humanly speaking there was nothing more they could do.
But no. I told God, this is where you come in. Everyone has given up hope. You are Hope. I’ve heard of these moments, these miracles. This is where you come in. Right, Lord?
What if I just have enough faith?
What if I just pray hard enough?
What sin must I confess?
This is the valley of the shadow of death. This is what this feels like. Agonzing doesn’t begin to describe this. What is this feeling that won’t go away? What makes me want to live here, so close to Jesus yet so far from my comforts of normal?
There will never be normal again. I will never be normal again.
I whisper to him through my sobs. I love him. We love him. We will be together again soon.
Soon. I don’t even know what this means anymore. Time is both a gift and a curse. I must wait how long until I see him again? But those moments that we had him, a gift no one could take away or share or replicate. Time, I both love and loathe you.
There is no fear in death. I inhale and exhale and say it again. “There is no fear…no fear…” I fumble as I try my best to comfort him. But he is not scared. He is completely peaceful, quiet, still.
Jeff is kneeling beside me, running his fingers through Thao’s hair. Through his own tears, his eyes meet mine, “He knows that better than we do. It’s okay, baby.”
Yet again this man. My husband, Thao’s daddy, our leader, upholder and brave one. He comforts me. As his heart is clearly breaking into a million tiny pieces, he reaches out and comforts me.
And I held our son. Our hearts breaking. I held our son as Jeff whispered into his ears how soon we would be seeing him.
And he breathed his last breath.
His soul rested. His body broken. His heart whole. I picture his spirit leaping into the arms of Jesus, no longer restrained to that hospital bed. No longer confined by the invisible illness. No longer crying silent tears. No longer hungry. No longer fighting pain and sadness. No longer waiting….
He is home. He has arrived. He is perfect. And he is missed.
And each day since that day, I am faced with the choice. To hope or to despair. To get up out of bed or to give up. To trust or to forsake all I’ve known.
There are moments when I cry out. I wonder. I ask. I shake my fist and scream. And the Lord is not surprised. He does not ask me why or how I could doubt or wonder. He knows me full well. And He gently whispers my name. He shows me all the glorious things He has done. He guides me into my own blessings and helps me to see.
And I come full circle, into His mercy and grace and love.