Elaine here. I’m sorry for the abrupt ending to the last post. I wanted to post it before it ended up languishing in the drafts folder forever and hoped that putting it out there would help us make time to finish it. But, alas, we’ve been very busy.
I wasn’t sure what would become of this blog after Eli died. I know it doesn’t hold the same appeal or purpose as it did while I chronicled his journey, but I feel like the story isn’t really over yet. What does life look like after losing a child? What does one do with all the intense energy that was invested in that one child, almost to the exclusion of the siblings, once the purpose for that energy is gone? How am I coping? How are Adam and the kids coping?
I can’t answer well for the others, but for me, I’m doing pretty good most of the time. The week after the funeral I designated as a recovery period. I just needed a break. It’s been so long since I truly had a break. I felt so sustained by the ongoing outpouring of love from family, friends, neighbors, and strangers that I still don’t feel the full impact of Eli’s passing. I think of him often, but the weight of my grief is bouyed by all of your love. My break was interrupted by a couple kids getting sick for a couple days, which changed our low key Thanksgiving plans with my sister to staying at home. My niece Becca, who had already been exposed to the kids’ illness the day before, came over and celebrated with us. Andrew, who was in the middle of week two of missionary training at home (before Covid, he would have gone to the Provo Missionary Training Center for training, but they are still transitioning to in person training), was bored since he had the day off of most of his regular classes. Andrew entered the Provo MTC on December 1st, so now he has no time to be bored. I quarantined the sick kids downstairs where Eli had spent the last days of his life and I repurposed the things we’d accumulated for his care so that I could care for his siblings. I have done a poor job of documenting life through photos since the funeral, so I only have a few picture from that day and no pictures of the sick kids.
Life after Death (not really as exciting as it sounds)
Following Thanksgiving week, I got back to work dealing with post funeral stuff, like submitting a claim for life insurance, and more mundane things like paying medical bills (these will continue to haunt us for awhile). Even though I didn’t expect to need it, as part of our financial planning back when Adam got his current job, I had us apply for supplemental life insurance for the kids. It was a group term policy covering all our kids for one very low price through his work. That was one of the most helpful things we had in place that took financial stress off of our shoulders during these last few years. I wasn’t sure how much final expenses would be, but I hoped the insurance would be more than enough. We were also given some very generous donations around the time of Eli’s death, which took away worries about medical, funeral, and holiday expenses.
Several of our kids have asked about being buried next to Eli, which I don’t expect to happen, but I developed a desire to buy more plots around ours when we went to the cemetery to take flowers to Eli’s grave and another graveside service was about to start right next to Eli. I thought maybe if we buy a bunch of plots in that area, then other services won’t interrupt our visits to the grave. Yes, a bit crazy, but the thought definitely crossed my mind. Then there is the headstone. We had been checking out the cemetery and thinking about headstones for months, so I knew what I wanted and it wasn’t cheap. I highly recommend term life insurance; it’s worth it for peace of mind (I also recommend an emergency fund).
Of Greater Import
On December 7, 2021, we went to one of our church’s temples. For those not familiar with our religion, temples are special buildings where we make covenants with God and learn more in depth about our purpose in life, Christ’s role in our salvation, and our responsibilities as children of Heavenly Father. We believe that the covenants we make are essential to our eternal salvation and that we can perform those ordinances for our ancestors and family members who were not able to make those covenants while they were alive. While Eli was baptized a member of our church (the first covenant we make) when he was eight years old, he was not old enough to make the other covenants that are made in our temples. So, we made arrangements to do that for him in our local temple. Andrew and Joseph, who had previously made those covenants through ordinances called the initiatory and endowment, acted as proxy for Eli. We believe that, even though Andrew and Joseph performed the ordinances and made covenants with God on Eli’s behalf, that it is still up to Eli to accept the work for it to be valid. We believe that Eli’s spirit left his body when he died and that he still exists and will be resurrected when Jesus Christ returns. If you want to learn more about our beliefs, please ask a missionary to teach you. They can do a better job than I can in the context of this blog.
We felt close to God and close to Eli while we were there and we feel greater peace in knowing that Jesus Christ continues to look after him as He did before Eli died.
Noah, Eli’s younger brother, was the first member of our family to celebrate a birthday after Eli’s graduation. Our friends, who had been making plans with Eli these last few months, came over with a gift for Noah from Eli. It was beautiful and very affecting to watch Noah open it and to see the card, with a message from Eli written in his secret code.
My birthday was next. I celebrated it with family, then with friends. It was really good. By then, I knew to expect a gift and note from Eli. It took me a couple days before I was ready to decode the message. I truly am privileged to be Eli’s mom. I don’t claim that he is perfect, but he has the greatest desire to be a good person and lived up to that desire most of the time. He told me many times before he died how much he loved and appreciated me, calling me a “miracle” and “amazing”, among other things. I am grateful for the efforts he and my friends made to give us something to look forward to from him.
And here I am. A month ago tonight, Eli and I had our last conversation. We are champions in Eli’s victory. This isn’t the end of his journey–it’s the beginning.