October 30, 2014. That’s our deceased son’s date of birth. We never got to meet him alive.
Nathanael Marcus was of full-term gestation, but he had two major challenges: a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia which meant profound compromise on lung capacity, and he had Pallister-Killian Syndrome. The second half of my wife’s pregnancy was not only a week-by-week proposition, it was also punctuated by eight amnioreduction procedures to relieve the excess production of amniotic fluid during the pregnancy. The journey even to Nathanael’s birth was the culmination of months of grief.
It’s almost as if his stillbirth was a marker for a voyage we – as a couple, and as a family of six – began. Until Nathanael had actually passed we couldn’t embark on the voyage. He had not gone to be with God yet.
The voyage’s destination is obvious: it’s a heavenly reconciliation we seek.
So, we have set out on this voyage we didn’t want to take. And all of us are required to take such a voyage eventually.
Grief, in many senses, is a lifelong process; we just end up at ‘acceptance’ and remain there. Acceptance is still part of the grief process.
Whilst we are on this voyage we pine for the destination, yet there are still too many reasons to enjoy the voyage; family is on board and we have things to do and achieve as the waves lap at the bow of life’s ship as it plunges through the whitecaps. There is a living hope to be enjoyed.
If we count where we are at, we are really not long past the harbour markers on this voyage, if we will live to the end of our natural lives. We may not reunite with our little boy for close to fifty years (or more?). He, who is ever missed, is with God, and, whilst we know God is here with us, we cannot be with God in the same way as Nathanael is. It’s not our time. Yet, in eternity, where there is no time, our son waits without waiting.
As our vessel steams out beyond the channel markers into the open seas of the coming year (and years/decades) we hope Nathanael’s memory will grow fonder and not more distant. We hope that the hope of seeing him one day will enrich the wonder in our hearts for the coming resurrected life.
The voyage is not filled with sadness, though there are appropriate times for such sentiment. The voyage is replete, however, with significance emotionally and spiritually; as deep as the fathoms below. Each mile traversed, each month, each milestone in this life, is followed by the heavenly host as witnesses as to how life continues on for us, the living. They see what we cannot. We may one day see it all for what it truly was.
We are ever grateful for Nathanael. Had we not had him heaven would not have touched us because of his transcendence.
We are gifted with the blessing of being on a voyage toward Nathanael; the destination, ourselves, to be with God, and to be reconciled in heaven.
We all are. We are all bound there. We are all bound for death and eternity.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.