Friday morning, while in the middle of a language lesson with Ethan, my phone rang. I always keep my phone away from where we are working on school and usually have the ringer off so we can eliminate distractions. That morning; however, I forgot to silence my phone. Ethan immediately ran to grab it for me. I looked but didn’t recognize the number, because of this I let it go to voicemail. Then the same number flashed up on my screen again so I answered it. The voice on the other end was one that I had been waiting to hear but at the same time wished I’d never have to. The funeral director was calling to inform me that Nathaniel’s ashes were ready to be picked up.
This was the last physical “piece of the puzzle” to the journey we have been on over the last month and we desperately wanted our sweet angel home.
From a young age I have learned that our bodies are merely vessels which hold who we are. Every one of us has a soul that lives forever. I fully and completely understand that once our hearts stop and we take our last breath, who we truly are takes its eternal journey to either heaven or hell. Our little blessing took that journey a little over a month ago. The evening of January 6th we held in our hands a lifeless body, our son. We were never able to hear him cry or see him move any part of his body but we know that shortly before we had him in our hands he was living in me. His heart was beating, his arms and legs were moving. We heard and saw this on the ultrasound just weeks before.
Our son was alive and our son has a soul. His body was in the middle of being formed with a purpose to carry that soul. We still question why he needed to be taken so early. We will never understand the reason but we know that we will see him again.
His earthly body, that vessel, was a physical reminder of his soul. We had two choices to make after his birth. The first was to give his body to the hospital and they would “store it” until they had enough fetuses, then they would cremate them all together and bury them in an unmarked plot at a catholic cemetery. The second option was to have him cremated and either bury him or bring him home. We decided without hesitation that we would bring our baby home.
We made the arrangements with the funeral home and were given the option of an angel urn or just a plain wood box. As we were filling out the paperwork, Justin noticed a heart shaped urn on a table by where we were sitting. We asked for the pricing of other options, specifically that one. The director told us that he would get that for us free of charge instead of the original two options. We chose to have the heart be white and we were able to have it inscribed. Both Ethan and Konnor have a favorite color, orange and green respectively. Justin, from the moment he saw Nathaniel has said that he sees him as white. White because he went from being pure, in the womb to being in the bright light of Jesus in heaven. It only made sense that we would have his ashes surrounded by this color as a constant reminder of that.
After each of our babies were born, Justin went to the gift shop at the hospital and picked out a stuffed animal for them. For Ethan he picked out “puppy”, for Konnor it was “bear” and for Nathaniel he chose “lamb”. His little stuffed lamb came with a small blanket. We decided that we would have him cremated with his blankey, we kept the lamb with us. I have been looking around at everything the boys own, scattered in every room of our house and I look at the one box and blanket that we have for Nathaniel and it makes me both happy and sad. Happy because we have those items which brings us memories of seeing him, but sad because that is everything and will always be everything we will physically have of him. The day before we went to the hospital to have Nathaniel, I went to target and picked out a big cozy blanket for him so I could hold him in it. The blanket still has the smell of him on it and I have it stored away in a place that the boys can’t reach it. I have found comfort in holding it at times when memories of him fill my mind. It is the only material thing that I picked out for him that his body touched.
Back to that Friday….After the call came in, we received an email from the funeral director relaying the same information. Justin received that email while at work and started to tear up. Our moments of sorrow has become further apart but like any loss there will always be reminders that will bring the raw pain back to the surface again. I knew this call was coming and was bracing myself for it.
The boys and I finished school and near the end of the day we loaded into the vehicle and drove to the funeral home. Ethan was excited to finally be bringing his little brother home but Konnor had a complete meltdown when it finally hit him that “baby brother” wasn’t going to come home in the form of a baby. He started to sob when I explained to him that what we were picking up was a heart shaped “container” that held Nathaniel’s ashes, there would be no “real baby” coming home.
We walked in and someone met us at the door, I told them who I was and why I was there. The man brought the boys and I into a tiny room. He then passed me a cardboard box which had a sticker on it that read “deceased : Nathaniel Craig Miller”. It was at that moment that I started to tear up. I signed the paperwork, held the box tightly under my arm and walked back to the car holding onto the hands of my other two boys. We loaded back into the car and I buckled in. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Ethan on the right, Konnor on the left and an empty spot in the middle which I could envision a backwards facing car seat. Turning my head to the passenger seat I saw the box which held my third son. This was not how we were supposed to bring him home. He was not supposed to be placed in a small box that looked as if the UPS truck driver could have delivered to my front door. That was the moment the tears started to flow. Ethan asked me quietly “mom why are you crying?” to which I replied “I’m sad”. It’s as simple as that, I was sad.
The days have gone on. We have had lots of happy moments, lots of laughter in our home, but sometimes I can honestly say that I am sad. I’ve had some comments given to me that suggest that if I’m feeling good, then it must mean I’m “over it”. I know these remarks come from ignorance of the situation and I brush them off as such. I have dug deep in my faith over this last month and that has brought me so much peace and I’ve been able to see light in this dark time. Because of this I have been able to experience happiness throughout the pain, however I will never be “over the loss”. Nathaniel will never be replaced in my heart. He will never be forgotten. We as a family and I as a mother will be able to move on. I will continue to live my life and enjoy the two children I have been entrusted with here on earth. I will however always have a piece of my heart attached to Nathaniel; who is enjoying the splendor of heaven. He will never be “something that happened to us” he is a part of this family. He had life, he has a soul and we have a third son.
Welcome home my sweet Nathaniel.