Although he was strong and put up a good fight, Liam's tiny body was unable to sustain life on this earth and at 4:26 Thursday afternoon, he rose in glory into the arms of God.
Thursday was a day of agony. Mark named it the worst day of their lives...living the nightmare. When the news came Thursday morning that Liam was unlikely to make it through the day, grandparents and siblings rushed to be present, as did I and another close family friend. It was such a long day...but there was some comfort at least in our togetherness, in our loving arms in which to hold each other, in the many shoulders on which to cry. I held back my own tears until I got home, wanting to be a support to my friends, but my heart was breaking to witness their intense pain. Throughout the day, the doctors brought updates on Liam's condition, on his deterioration, and gently paved the way for the acceptance that Liam could not survive. Some could not help but get hopes up in the midst of darkness as Liam would briefly rally...others soon knew that it was time to pray for peace at the last. His primary doctor said when the time came, she would be the one to make the decision to take him off life support, for which we are deeply grateful. What a dreadful burden such a choice would have been for his young parents. The staff of the IWK Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are incredible...they cared for Liam and his family with such deep compassion and loving kindness. God bless them.
In one of those mysterious coincidences, a professional sketch artist was in town giving a couple of talks. She specializes in infant sketches and happened to be in the NICU on Thursday. Upon hearing this little one was nearing the end, she offered to do some sketches of Liam and his parents. She is amazing, what wonderful treasures with which to remember Liam...
Liam's dad and grandpa got matching tattoos on Wednesday to honour this fragile new life in our midst. The design is an impression of Liam's actual footprint, his name, and words from a beautiful hymn based on Isaiah 40:31 and Psalm 91: He will raise you up on eagle's wings.
And now comes the long journey of grieving and healing. My heart aches for Liam's parents, for my friends who bear their own pain and that of their child's, and for all the family and friends so keenly feeling this loss. At first I was surprised at the strength of my own feelings of grief, but then considering how close I am to the family, it is not so surprising...their loss is my loss. I was blessed to be able to sink into the comforting arms of my own mother this afternoon...feeling lost and alone all day yesterday, I got up this morning and knew I needed to go see my mom today. I thank God for her presence and her love and for her understanding that even though Liam was not my flesh and blood, he was the grandson of a woman I love as a sister. And so I too grieve his death.
I am deeply blessed also to be able to draw great and sustaining strength from my faith, and from the words of my church's creed...
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.