The night Eli graduated, we began sending notifications and making phone calls. We started with the medical people, so they could come and complete the formalities and paperwork. Then to our close friends who had already been helping us plan for this event, or had been directly helping us cope in various ways. Then to an ever widening circle of friends.
It was, admittedly, a difficult chore. Elaine had her list of people and I had mine. How do you say it? Texts were easiest and a simple message seemed best, “Eli has passed.” Just sending that message over and over again. Just one phone call for me to my mother who offered to help call all my siblings, which I gratefully accepted. Elaine’s mother was already here and helped on her side of the family.
[Elaine interjecting here] Adam did more managing of the notifications while I communicated with the medical people. After administering Eli’s anti anxiety medication, which served as a sedative, I had texted our daytime nurse to find out if the mucus reducing medication was ordered and to request a suction device since the mucus in Eli’s throat had become very problematic. Minutes before he passed, she responded to my text. To which I replied, 5 minutes look later, “Don’t worry about it. I think he’s passed.”
Between phone calls and texts with the medical people, I was crying and consoling our children and being consoled by them.
[Adam again] Many things started happening at once. I don’t remember the exact sequence now.
The few people who had roles in the preparations began to show up. Others offered to come immediately, but we weren’t quite ready yet.
I wanted to get it over with, and my engineering mind wanted to find the most efficient and least painful way. I took responsibility for the blog post and started writing, checking with Elaine that she was OK with how it was written, then posted.
We were ready for our Bishop, the leader of our ward (a local congregation in our church). He came over around the same time some of the first medical people arrived and waited patiently for us to get the pressing concerns out of the way. He then talked with us briefly about Christ, the next life, the resurrection, and other things that are a bit of a blur. But what stood out to me, was that he mentioned that other people would be hurting because of this, and that we might have opportunities to mourn with them and perhaps to comfort them. That seemed important to me.
Another blur of people crying with us, of laughing when one or another of our children reminded us of something Eli said or did, and around again and again while we waited. Words like, “I need a hug,” or “You need a hug,” between family members were spoken and those hugs were given and received. It was dark and sad and gentle and quiet and love was there. The love was sad and we wept, but it was there. It stood over each of us in turns, making the rounds from person to person, touching shoulders and heads. It made the sadness and heartache more sharp and poignant, deeper and… richer? It made the sorrow both harder to bear and somehow… somehow just barely bearable. More tears.
The people came to take Eli’s body. He was downstairs when he passed and there were some logistics to getting him upstairs to consider. I didn’t like any of the suggestions. Since I had carried him up and down the stairs before, I decided it would be best if I did it. I cradled him and lifted. We walked up the steps and I had to remind myself that I couldn’t hurt him this time. I tried to gently lay him down on the gurney. Elaine was next to me when they covered his body, and I remember a lot of people being around us. Elaine and I followed as they took him out the front door and watched from the driveway as they loaded him into the hearse. They left and we cried together, alone for the moment. It was cold and dark, well past midnight. That seemed right. We finally went back inside.
It was time for bed. We usually prayed as a family before bed, I think I said the prayer. I don’t remember what I asked for, but I think I remember being grateful for many things.
Sleep was fitful. Elaine (and I) woke around 3:00 am because that was habit for taking care of Eli. We tried to go back to sleep, but again it was fitful.
Morning came and so did more people.
To be continued…