It was not until we were leaving the NICU for the last time that we began to think about how we were going to celebrate Ethan's short life. Even though we walking through one of the times of greatest sorrow in our lives we wanted to celebrate the joy Ethan had brought us. He had been prayed for, hoped for, and loved from the moment he was conceived. It was the funeral director who asked me to write something for his in memory booklet, really encouraging me to remember that Ethan had been a part of our lives for the last 8.5 months not just 13 days. This is what I wrote:
"Our precious Ethan, so full of strength and courage, is our little angel sent from above full of wonder and full of love. We are so blessed to have had Ethan as part of our family for 9 months here on earth. He made sure that Mommy ate a lot of salad and grapefruit daily. He love to wake up and kick Mommy at night when she was trying to sleep. Ethan love to snuggle in Mommy and hear stories from Baba and listen to him play the piano. Most of all, Ethan enjoyed the nightly shouting into Mommy's belly button by his big brothers, and the kisses good night. Ethan's 13 days outside the womb were spent cuddling in Mommy and Baba's arms, sucking on his pacifier, and sharing his incredible strength, courage, and love with everyone around him. We will forever remember our little "tiger" and hold his "piano" hands, caressing his thick black hair, and kissing his soft little face. We know that God has many purposes for Ethan's life, and thought we do not understand them all right now - we know immense love and peace in the knowledge that Ethan now rests in the arms of Heaven - beautifully perfectly whole."
As we prepared for remembering and sharing our Ethan with so many who had never met him, we were given a prayer that really meant a lot to us and we shared it with others at the memorial:
"It seems we must now give our beloved Ethan back to you, O God, who first gave him to us. Yes, as you did not lose him in giving him to us, so we do not lose him fully by his return to you. For you do not give as the world gives, O Lover of Souls. What you give, you do not take away; for what is yours is ours also, as we are yours. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon. And a horizon is nothing but the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong and healing God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; draw us closer to our Ethan who is with you. And while you are preparing a place for each of us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where you and Ethan are we may also be forevermore. Amen"
We decided to have a private family burial prior to the memorial service, so that the service could be a celebration of his life. At the service a good friend of ours read "The Dragonfly Story", my brothers sang a hymn, and we had the whole group sing a bunch of well known hymns ending with "I'll Fly Away".
It was over the next few weeks after the service was over that I read a book which told the true story of another family saying good-bye to their 7 day old baby girl. She shared something in that book that I thought was a really neat idea - at the Burial - the parents had a pink helium balloon and wrote a love letter to their daughter on it - they let it go at the end of the service. Then during the memorial service they had everyone there go outside and send up their own pink balloons. I thought was a really neat idea and even though we couldn't do it anymore for Ethan's Memorial - we have decided to do it on his birthday.
We had lived life with Ethan, gone through the whirl of burial and memorial, and now had to find a way to live without him.