Spitting Mad

Last Saturday I went to a funeral that left me spitting mad.  Okay….so funerals are never anyone’s activity of choice and this one was especially a heart breaker.  A real heart breaker.  I think I expected the service to leave me with some sort of peace.  Some sort of resolution.  And it didn’t so I was mad.  And not just for me but for the family of the deceased.  They were robbed.  And cheated.  In more ways than one. 

On December 10th, the youngest daughter of friends of ours gave birth to their very first grandchild.  Jacob Owen Wayne Childers was a preemie with a precarious beginning.  He weighed in at 1 lb and 13 ounces and could fit in the palm of your hand.  Just hours after his birth he was whisked off to another hospital down town with a more extensive neonatal care unit.  And there he spent the next five weeks….growing, nursing, wiggling, winking, sleeping…all the things a newborn does best.  Not being a member of the family, I could only follow his progress via his grandparents’ Facebook status reports and pictures that were posted there.  He was doing stunningly well considering.  He was doing so well that a baby shower planned before his birth came off three weeks after he was born.  We ate cake, played the dorky games, oohed and ahhed as a mountain of gifts were opened and shown off.  Teeny tiny preemie clothes and diapers.  Larger sizes for ‘later.’  Strollers….travel beds….monkeys for a little monkey’s nursery.   A joyful event for family and friends alike.  

This baby was loved and wanted and adored and we couldn’t wait for him to be home where he could be shared.

But it was not to be.  Two weeks later, Jake was gone.  Its amazing how quickly a relatively healthy little guy can go sour in an incubator.  At 1 pm on Monday he was fine…moving around and doing what newborns do best.  By 4 pm something was happening.  By 3:30 am he was gone.

They said it was an infection on his…well, it really doesn’t matter.  Whatever it was, he wasn’t strong enough to fight it.  There was an autopsy so another preemie with the same condition might be helped in the future.  If that makes it any easier.

It doesn’t.

What should have made it easer – or at least provided some sort of ‘bridge’ for the family and friends at his funeral – was a service that honored Jake.  A service that let people know how important to his family this tiny scrap of humanity was.  How this little guy managed to trample his dinky little feet all over the hearts of his parents, his grandparents, his aunts and uncle, a list of extended family, friends and….neighbors.  How his birth enveloped them all in a bubble of caring and strength and affection and shared hopes and dreams.  It should have been said that they were proud of his fighting spirit and his strength to last as long as he did.  That they laughed at how big the tiny preemie diapers were on his skinny little body.  That they were tickled he was healthy enough to handle outside of the incubator….that they could even give him a bath.  This little guy was a miracle.

A miracle…and he is gone.  His Grandpa said to best in an email with the stunning information about his death.  “Its amazing how something so tiny could leave such a huge hole in your heart.”

My heart is breaking for them.  The loss of a first child – first grandchild – first nephew – must be especially heartrending because he will always be ‘the first.’  He was here for forty days …..and he will be there for the rest of their lives.  He has left a little bit and a little piece behind and forever changed all of us.  THAT is what should have been shared at his funeral. 

The fact that it wasn’t, has me spitting mad.  Even now.

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2 Comments on “Spitting Mad”

  1. Miranda Says:

    We had a preemie in our family. My cousin’s daughter was born three months premature and weighed 1 pound, 11 ounces. She stayed in the hospital for four months after she was born.

    Jenna turned six two days ago. She’s the perfect little girl. She’s smart and she’s funny and she’s rambunctious and she’s stubborn. She likes horses and dinosaurs. And she’s a big sucker for “huggies” and “kissies.”

    All this and I know that her life—and ours—could have turned out very differently. I can only imagine what your friends and their family is going through—my heart is with all of them.

  2. Mary Says:

    What DID they talk about at the funeral. I am only guessing but I think I know the denomination. I am so sorry for the family. What a loss.


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