But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NRSV)
In loving memory
Ewan Eliezer Petermann
18 September 2010 - 3 October 2010
Half of my heart went to heaven last night.
We learned yesterday in the early afternoon that he had a bacterial infection (which proves fatal for so many of these special heart babies), and that several of his organs were failing. Though his oxygen saturation levels were in the upper 90s to 100, the oxygen wasn't perfusing through his body. The nurses said my normally active, awake, and squirmy boy hadn't opened his eyes all day.
And just the afternoon before, he had been looking intently into my eyes as I talked to and sang to him -- he moved his mouth as if to form words. I asked him if he had something to say. From the moment of his birth, he always had a deadlock with his eyes on James and I. When he looked at me, he'd really be looking at me. His gaze was so intent. There was recognition there, and I savored every moment.
We didn't get to see him open his eyes again.
In the presence of family and close friends, we gathered around his bed a little after 8 pm and prayed: thanking God for the gift of Ewan, thanking God for how even in just the span of his two weeks of life, his broken heart touched so many others. We thanked God for how He used Ewan to change lives, to encourage parents to hug their children a little tighter and a little longer. We sang hymns, and we played gentle lullabies.
The respiratory therapist came in an extubated him when we were ready. He was still connected to the ECMO machine so we could have our time to say goodbye. They brought in a couch for us to sit on in his room. We took turns holding him, kissing him, nibbling on his toes, stroking his hair, telling him how very much he was loved. He looked so very peaceful and was not in any kind of pain.
As Ewan Eliezer Petermann passed from this world to the next, he was surrounded by love and peace and so many people who loved him, who were there for his entrance. There was so much love, compassion, and dignity. One of the nurses who left us just before the shift change said that though she was not the least bit religious, she could feel angels in the room. I held him in my arms until the very moment the Everlasting Arms swept him up and took him home.
He came into this world in my arms, and that's how he left.
Even as I wept, I was filled up with peace. My sweet boy had fought so hard, but his body had failed him. He looked so peaceful and perfect. So many there that night -- nurses and doctors as well -- said it was hard to believe that a baby as perfect-looking as him could have something so very wrong with him.
I know. I know.
It was shortly before midnight that we called the nurse in to disconnect the ECMO. We knew we'd never really be ready for that moment. No one could have been. Every monitor was shut off, every machine shut down. You could see the change in his skin almost instantly. In just a few minutes, he was gone. The little heart finally stopped beating. Our sweet, sweet baby went to heaven.
If we had to say goodbye to him, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
* * * * *
Many have been struggling with the desire to say something that will help. Let me take that pressure away: there is nothing to be said that will take away or diminish our grief, even though we know that we do not grieve as those without hope. We understand that, and we certainly don't expect it. One of the hardest (but best) things to do is to sit in silence with someone who is grieving -- simply to sit and to be present without the need to offer words.
We thank you so much for how much and how well you have loved us, how you have loved Ewan, and how you will love us through this new season.