This weekend should have been different.
Instead of gathering with friends and family for the baptism of our three month old baby boy, we gathered for a remembrance ceremony at the hospital where he was born and his memorial service at the church where he would have surely been baptized.
Instead of taking three month photos and planning a party, we spent lingering moments with family and friends with no plans other than just soaking in their love and company and presence in the midst of our grief.
Instead of great joy and laughter there was sadness and grief and a different, heavier kind of laughter.
But in the midst of all of that. In the midst of memorial services and time with family and friends and an absolutely perfect memorial service, there was overwhelming love. There was love for Scott and I, and more than anything there was so much love for our sweet boy Alexander.
Alexander’s memorial service started with a prelude of a song titled “With Hope” from one of my all time favorite artists, Steven Curtis Chapman. I had completely forgotten that the song opens with a little boy singing “Jesus Loves Me.” And while that moment. That very. First. Moment. Brought all the tears, it was also a reminder of the hope that we carry in our heavy hearts. The chorus to the song says:
And we can cry with hope
We can say good-bye with hope
‘Cause we know our good-bye is not the end
And we can grieve with hope
‘Cause we believe with hope
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
We’ll see your face again
You can hear more of the song here:
We prayed during that song with our pastor, parents and siblings. PJS reminded us and our family that we would get through this day. Together.
The memorial service was absolutely perfect. A few of our dear friends who were with us in the darkest days as we waited in the hospital after finding out Alexander no longer had a heartbeat read scripture passages from Isaiah 40 and Psalm 139 and Matthew 18. Our friends JPF and CH provided beautiful music, including a mix of hymns and contemporary songs of hope. PJS offered words of hope as he talked about the power and significance of Alexander’s name that joins him with us and with Jesus forever. We sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “Give Me Jesus,” “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” and “I Can Only Imagine.” Members of our high school youth group served as communion servers and ushers. Following communion, we had a time of candlelighting, where everyone present had the opportunity to light a candle in memory of Alexander. The service finished with a postlude of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Beauty Will Rise.” Every moment was perfect. Every. Single. Moment.
We have been surrounded by so much love from our family and friends and our community over the past three months. And, while this weekend is by no means an end to our grief journey, it was such an important reminder for us of all of the people who are surrounding us and our sweet Alexander with love each and every day. Hundreds of people. In the words of my sister on Facebook last night, there have been so many people who have walked beside us, who have protected us and propped us up, and who have let us take care of ourselves above anything else. These people. This community. Truly the hands and feet of Jesus for us.
Last night, after a long weekend of remembering Alexander with family and friends, I had a meeting with some of our high schoolers at the church. Despite being incredibly exhausted, it was a welcome distraction at the end of a very heavy weekend. On my way home from the meeting, I got a text from Scott that said, “Are you on your way home? It seems white bags with candles/lights in them have appeared in our driveway and yard.” We have no idea who did this, but when I got home from my meeting, Scott and I just sat on the front porch in the chilly fall weather with tears in our eyes, completely overwhelmed by the love and support that we have been shown by our community.
I don’t know how it is possible to have a heart that is so heavy and at the same time so full. I miss that sweet baby boy that I held in my arms, and I miss the three month old that he should be right now. I miss the baptism celebration that should have been this weekend, but I am overwhelmed by and grateful for the community that helped us to remember Alexander through his memorial service.
Sweet boy, you are loved. You are loved. You are loved.