Monday, January 24, 2011

His Name is David...

His name is David. I only knew him for two and a half hours. And I miss him.

He came over four months earlier than he should have. Mom was taxed beyond her physical limits, fighting a horrific combination of pain and infection from a burst appendix. Her body decided that it could not fight this battle and still continue to grow this child.

And so, at 5:30 Saturday morning, amid great pain and horror, we had a baby.

The nurse asked me, right there in the midst of battle, if I wanted to see him. I told her I didn't know. I was crying, but I could see lots of blood; I could hear my wife screaming in pain, and I had a mental image of those pre-term babies you sometimes see...the ones that look sort of like deformed fish. I did not want to remember him as anything other than a baby. Better not to remember at all.

But I could see movement out of the corner of my eye. I could see these nurses--these beautiful, beautiful nurses--carefully cleaning the baby, wrapping him in blankets. They treated him as a precious thing, this creature that there was absolutely no chance of saving, born only to die. They treated him like a baby. And, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tiny hand move in the blankets. I couldn't help myself. I looked.

I saw, not a deformed, horrible thing. I saw a baby. A tiny, beautiful, delightful, perfect, half-sized baby, with eyes that were still fused, skin so delicate it was almost translucent. I saw tiny, perfect hands and feet. I saw an intelligent face that seemed so like my daughters, a perfect blend of mom's and dad's features. I saw my son.

I took him then, and held him, trying to memorize his face. The nurses said he might live a few minutes, or an hour. As it was, he held on almost three. Tough little guy, like his mom, like his dad. I held him. Mom held him. During a lull in the battle, when mom had been stabilized and brought out of immediate danger, a nurse asked me if he had a name. It had not occurred to me, there in the midst of all that horror, to give him his name, but I remembered what we had decided. "His name is David."

We spent the next couple hours or so passing him back and forth, mom and I. We talked to him. I sang him my most powerful, most magical songs. Mom kissed his head and told him she loved him. One of the beautiful nurses told me, at one point, that love was all this boy would ever know. She had tears in her eyes as she said it. I'm pretty sure I did too.

I could feel him getting colder. A baby this size can't generate its own body heat. I mentioned this to a nurse, and she took him, only to return him a few moments later wrapped in a warmed blanket, with a tiny knit cap on his head, tiny knit socks on his feet. Beautiful nurses. They assured me he wasn't suffering, and I believed them--his movements were infrequent and gentle, not the hard kicks we both knew he was capable of delivering when something was bothering him. Every few minutes, one of the nurses would use a miniature stethoscope to check his heartbeat. It gradually got slower and fainter. Finally, at 8:05, the nurse shook her head. "I don't hear anything."

Mom asked to hold him one more time. She didn't let go until she was darn good and ready.

And that was that.

What would he have been? Would he have been an athlete? A scholar? A musician? An explorer? A builder? A hunter? A scientist? A fisherman? A mathematician? A logger? An environmentalist? Would he have been boisterous and quick to act, or quiet and thoughtful? Reckless, or cautious? A worker with his muscles, or a creator with his mind? A rough man of the open country, or a man of civilization and refinement? A spiritual man, or a practical man of the world?

Now, he will never be any of those things. And somehow I know he is free, now, to be all of them.

Rest easy, little buddy, in the arms of the God who made you. Forever perfect. Forever my son.


  1. (;^-^)

    Someday, when you cross over, this strapping handsome guy is going to meet you.

  2. Tom you have the heart of a lion and the pen of a saint. Badgers are the most feared of creatures loved by their own and respected by all, little badgers are no different.

    Love ya.

  3. Wow, such a beautiful picture of unconditional and instant love. I look forward to hearing David tell of his many adventures.

  4. This was beautiful, Tom. Prayers for all of you.

  5. No words, Tom, none. You said them all. All I have are tears. You are just what Jeff said "heart (and courage I might add) of a lion and pen of a saint". I can't wait to meet David someday.


  6. What a touching tribute...much love to you and your wife. You will continue to be in my prayers.

  7. Dear Tom, In teared up eyes I write this. You had the joy of David in your life for such a short time but you will have that time for ever and both of you will cherish it more than you can image.
    Marie and I are so thankful that Sara is doing better. Hang in there for God has a plan and is certianly in control. We have had this same pain and can feel with you both,,,,,
    Gerald & Marie

  8. You don't know me, but a friend directed me to your page. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. In May I delivered a beautiful, perfect angel who was born still due to a cord accident. One passage that helped me was John 16:22 "So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy." At that time we will also get to see our angels, I find great joy in that. It also helped me to remember that God isn't putting us through anything he hasn't experienced himself. Feel free to write me if you would like, I still find it therapeutic to talk with other angel parents and love not only sharing Aubrey's story, but also hearing other angels' stories. Please know that I am praying for comfort and strength for you and your wife.

  9. I was directed to your page by my friend, Lisa Bloecher. I cannot imagine your grief for one second. What I can imagine, though, is the smile on Jesus's face as he watched you and your wife love your son. This is an amazing testimony of love and faith. I wish you peace, friend. My prayers will be with you and your family.
    Jill from Missouri

  10. I'm also a friend of Lisa's. I've experienced the heartbreak of miscarriage and though it is not the same, I know the tears of parents like us are never wasted. May God give you peace as you mourn and bring you joy as you heal.

    This post was a wonderful way to honor your son and give voice to your pain. You are all in my prayers today.

  11. Hi Tom. I haven't had any words as I've caught up on everything through Facebook updates. I've only had tears and prayers and thoughts and tears. So I'm going to borrow some words someone else posted: Please let Sarah know that a woman she's never met has been praying for her and will continue. My heart is with you all.

  12. Tom- this is Elise Hooper, Kevin's wife. You already know you and Sarah have been bathed with prayer for the past month, but please know that I have lifted Sarah's mama-heart to the throne almost daily, with my hands plunged deep into dishwater, switching laundry, wiping noses... all those mundane, world-changing things I know she would give anything to be doing right now. And it has made me strive harder to look for His hand in the little things...

    The Hooper family is praying for a mighty healing so you can go *home*!

    We send so much love.