Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let's Get Physical

I know. It is the name of a not-so-spiritually-enriching song. But it is the words that come to mind when I think of the deep significance of what my family did yesterday. On August 16 we learned that our grandson due in December had died in utero. On August 18 our daughter delivered this precious little life. He was named Elijah Evan. We determined to mark his life on Labor Day weekend when our immediate family and his paternal grandparents would be present. How do you do a memorial service for a little boy whose life ended at five months in the womb? With just a few family members gathered in the back yard, how could we adequately mark the immense depth of the experience of love and loss? Words are powerful. God’s word is especially so, and there was plenty of that spoken and heard. But with such gut-wrenching pain, with such physically visible sorrow, how could we memorialize Elijah in a way that would be remembered and cherished? I realized in reflecting on what we did, we got physical! For Elijah’s memorial we participated together in some very physical ways.

Our son wrote a song for Elijah. Wow! As Elijah’s father said, “How many children have a song written for them?” This five-month-old, taken-before-he-was-born little boy does! This was such a physical expression of remembering. My son spent a week writing and practicing. He played it on his guitar and he sang it for them. His sister sang with him. It is called “Little Feet.” The chorus says, “Li’l Lijah was just too good for this world” and “his little feet never even made footprints in the dirt.” The songs speaks of our sorrow but also our hope that someday “we will see his little smile and touch his precious face.” It was a physical act born out of sadness and love and hope. We all were in awe. We all were in tears. It was such a physical experience. And the wonder of modern technology allowed my son to record and send the song for Elijah’s parents to keep.

Our daughter wrote a poem. It too was born out of sorrow and loss and hope. In her own reflection time she wondered how she could be so sad about a little boy she never saw. Then she realized she had seen him in her heart and mind. Her poem chronicled all the ways she had seen him. She had seen him in the joy in the faces of his mom and dad preparing to introduce him to the world. She had already imagined him playing with Laurel, our granddaughter born in July. She had imagined him visiting me and me scooping him up in my arms and not wanting to share him! She had already envisioned what future Christmases would be like for Elijah. And she had seen in her heart and mind her own child someday joining these cousins. Her poem was a very physical expression of how such a young and unseen life could create such a visible and heart-wrenching loss. We all “saw” Elijah with her, and as she read her poem we all physically mourned. Beautifully framed and mounted in an originally crafted work of art, the poem will hang in Elijah’s parent’s home, an enduring physical reminder of Elijah.

And we all planted something. On Sunday, September 4, in memory of Elijah Evan, I had ordered an arrangement containing seven separate plants for our church’s Communion Table. I had planned to pot each one to give to different family members in memory of him or to plant them around the yard. My daughter, Elijah’s mother, wanted to plant them. So at the close of our time of remembering, we did. What an incredible experience! Some of us took a turn of the dirt. Some of us helped to water. Under the careful and experienced guidance of Elijah’s paternal grandfather, each of us participated and watched as these plants were given a new lease on life. And two of them were planted next to plants from the memorial service of my father who died in 2006. Elijah’s plants right next to Great Grandpa Davis’—this was such a physical act of hope for all of us. The closing of Elijah’s memorial was very physical.

Through the song and poem written for him and through the plants given new life we will have constant and beautiful reminders of Elijah. These acts promote healing as well. We got physical. It was healing and it was very spiritually enriching.

Everyone has had experiences of loss. Many have known the loss of a little one like Elijah. What are the ways you or others you know have memorialized a loved one that has helped you to remember and to heal? Add a comment and let the readers know.

1 comment:

  1. Candie, I am a friend of Anne's from college and this post caught my eye. My love and prayers are with you and all of your family at this very difficult time. I miscarried with my first pregnancy and although I was only 11 weeks along, I had gotten the opportunity to see the baby's heartbeat before it stopped beating and I am so grateful to have experienced that moment of immense joy in my life. I definitely understand the pain of feeling like you already know the little one because you start envisioning your life with him or her from the day you find out you are carrying. Please tell Jamie that I am thinking of her and if she ever needs to talk to someone about what she's going through to please call or email me. (Anne has my info) I found that it was very helpful to talk to people who had gone through a similar experience and that the more open and honest I was about it, the more relieved I felt in the grieving process. This simple quote was one that really resonated with me and got me through some tough times: “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” Love to you all, Kristin