January 5th was to be a special day. I had tickets to the Seattle Symphony for that evening and Michael and I were set to go. Craig was on a mission trip with Nathanael in the Philippines and so I was taking Michael on a date. We were excited, I gave orders to the children staying home, nursed Lem, giving him a kiss on the top of his fuzzy head as he slid off my lap looking up at me with his big toothy grin, and then I said my goodbyes. Little did I know that the events to follow would change our lives forever….
Michael and I stopped for some take out, mindful of the time, as we had a 5:30 ferry to catch. We enjoyed some mother/son time as we chatted about life and ate our dinner, excited to get to Benaroya Hall for an evening of Beethoven. In the car, ready to disembark at the ferry terminal, my phone rang. It was from home so I answered it. What I heard on the other end of the line would bring the feeling of complete and utter dismay. The sick feeling of a blow to the stomach along with the intense crushing realization that life as we knew it would never be the same, my baby…my precious baby had drowned. As I hung up the phone, we left the ferry and I drove with urgency to get to my little Lem, knowing that it would probably be too late by the time I got there, but clinging to the hope that God would see fit to make it all right. Michael started making phone calls for me, first one was of course to Daddy. I knew the feeling of helplessness from being an hour away, I could only imagine what Craig would be feeling being on the other side of the world. As we drove, we sang. “It Is Well With My Soul” was the song that was brought immediately to my lips and intermittently I would cry out to God, “Please let him be okay, please help my baby! Please let him live!” Almost to Bremerton, I got a call saying that they had a faint heartbeat. This brought a renewed hope in me. Perhaps he will pull through, nonetheless, thy will be done Lord.
At the hospital, my sweet little boy lay almost lifeless on the gurney, prepared to be transferred to a hospital better equipped to care for him. The looks of everyone around me told me what I suspected, he probably was not going to make it. I could see the sympathy, but I could also feel the cold reality of a situation that I could not change.
Lemuel was transferred from Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton to Marybridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma via a special ICU ambulance. Samuel and Daniel brought me to Tacoma and stayed with me through the night. We were met in the waiting room by men of God who would stand with us in prayer and support. When the time came, we were escorted to a family room where the doctor in charge explained the situation and asked me to make the most difficult decision a mom could ever be asked to make. You see, after several minutes under water, 45 minutes of CPR and eight shots of epinephrine into his little heart, Lemuel’s body had gone through so much…if his heart should stop, do we resuscitate or let him go. With my husband trying desperately to get an emergency flight back home, I had very little ability to confer with him. The decision was entirely on my shoulders. I looked to my boys for their thoughts- they both felt we should do everything possible to keep him alive if only it would give time for Dad and Nathanael to get here. I looked at the doctor for his own opinion. He felt it would be too much for Lem and that it would be kindest to let him go. I took a deep breath, I felt the Holy Spirit, our great Comforter, give me strength and then I answered, “If his heart stops again, do not resuscitate, we need to let him go.” Moments later Craig was able to call and I informed him of my decision. He agreed with me and we shed many tears as we discussed bringing the children in to say goodbye.
After the dreaded conversation, we were brought to Lemuel’s bedside where I stroked his soft hair and whispered words of love to him, tears streaming down my face. I didn’t want to let go of this boy and yet he belonged to God, I would be grateful for every moment I was allowed with him. I was given the opportunity to hold Lemuel while the rest of the children came in. We FaceTimed with Craig and Nathanael, a moment though separated by distance, spent in grief yet with hope, a time to say goodbye to this very loved little boy. People came and went, I can barely remember who all visited as the numbness took over. I couldn’t eat as nausea engulfed my very being. The sweet Champ family came down from Canada as soon as they had heard the news. They stood there with me, allowing for myself, as well as my older children that stayed, the ability to get sporadic bouts of rest as there was always someone at Lem’s side. As the night wore on, Lemuel’s little heart continued to beat strongly, a beautiful sound to my ears.
Throughout the entirety of this night one year ago, one thing was and is a constant: God’s love and strength was getting us through. Though my heart was broken and sick, my hope never wavered. I knew that no matter the outcome, God was in control. My heart cry truly was thy will be done, Lord, give me the strength to accept what that might be. I knew that God could heal our Lem fully, I knew He could heal our Lem partially, and I knew He could heal our Lem completely. I clung to the knowledge that our God is sovereign and that none of this was a surprise to Him. The outcome was completely in His hands, and in this, we could rest.