January 22, 2015
On one end of a white corner shelf in our spare bedroom a striped, philodendron green stuffed frog sits with skinny long legs crossed and dangling, a soft, white lamb the size of a Twinkie tucked gently under his webbed hands. To the left of the frog and lamb is a square oak box with our son’s name carved on the lid. It contains an assortment of mementos, including a flannel receiving blanket and one large and one small hospital bracelet. On the other side of the box is a framed black and white photo featuring a pair of strong hands cupping tiny infant feet.
In our garage several plastic bins gather dust and wait for the day our hearts are ready to reopen them. They are filled with clothes for a baby boy—tags still on, blankets both homemade and store-bought, a wooden dog pull-toy, yellow duck-themed bath accessories, a felt mobile of jungle animals, my husband’s own baby shoes and nursery tug boat nightlight, remnants of décor from a baby shower, and a hand-sewn blue and white snowman Christmas stocking covered in hours and hours of sparkly white beads and sequins. I have yet to finish embroidering the name on it; something about the lack of completion makes the project, and perhaps even the recipient, still feel very present.
Near the bins is a diaper genie (a rebellious stand for disposables in our passionately green, cloth-diapering county 🙂 ), a large box containing a brand new car seat, an infant hiking carrier, and the BOB jogging stroller we chose because of its durable, trail-ready tires. We have yet to log any miles.
Two hours south in Colorado Springs, a quiet space of green grass rests on a hill beneath a Ponderosa pine tree where a weathered knee-high stone wall struggles to contain the ground that has pushed its way down the hill since the cemetery was first established in 1871. Two small stones occupy this space meant for six or eight. One of them, a rough cut, white marble rock, bears the following:
This is the story of Elliott Nathan, whose name is our declaration that Jehovah is [still] God and that Elliott and his story are our Gift.
Nearly a year has passed now, and in that time we’ve felt Grief, a savage beast, sink its teeth into our hearts, hold on and settle in. At the mercy of grief’s wrenching devastation, we’ve tried to suffer with honesty, gratitude and courage, and we’ve found that the presence of the Light of the World changes everything. He has been good to us and we have hope.