Thursday, January 20, 2011

The new beginning

Dear friends,

Thank you all so much for coming out for our open house. I know the weather got bad, but to see so many of you come was a blessing. Thank you also to all of you who were present with us in the spirit. God has been so good to us through this entire trial, truly He is good. We didn’t deserve any of the help, support, and prayers we received, yet they came in abundance. It is humbling to be a recipient of so many blessings.

The hardest day of my life was watching my daughter die. Yet it wasn’t as hard as I would have expected, God carried us through with His strength. The next hardest day was today, going to the funeral home to bury her body. We had been there a few times already to sort out formalities and details, but this time we couldn’t even get in the front door. We had to come into a room and see her body one last time. This was required so we could identify her.

Boy was that hard. I know that Madeline’s spirit is with God, but still having her body so near to us made it so hard. The nurses from the NICU turned out in mass, they helped carry us and Madeline through each day of her life, and they were here again to help us and Madeline through the last day. Words can never express how joyful we are that they came. They lent us their strength to make it through.

The ceremony was nice, simple and sweet. My 3 girls played an important role in distraction, Macy especially helped people from grieving too much with loud questions like: “Why is he speaking?”, “Where is Madeline?”, “Why are we praying again?”, and “Is Madeline in that jewelry box?” referring to the small pink casket on the table.

After the message, I handed the casket to one of the grounds crew who placed it in the ground. We prayed, and then played music while each person got to deliver a rose to her as they said their goodbyes. We released balloons and watched them rise into the sky. We dismissed everyone and stayed until the burial was completed. Everyone else stayed too.

I announced Madeline’s completed life with the words: “It is finished”. As I read through the countless cards, emails, and Facebook posts, I realize how many people have been touched by Madeline’s life. The common theme among those working at the hospital was how much they enjoyed and looked forward to going to work while Madeline was there. Seeing the huge masses of people we know and people we don’t know praying for Madeline, I realize it has only begun.

Now to plan a memorial. How do I keep this thing that Madeline and God started going? What do I present that will help people remember Madeline the most? What does God want from this? Please pray, and continue to offer us your thoughts about Madeline and what she means to you as we plan this. For right now, we’re off to Mexico for a quick and much needed rest. See you all again real soon.

Shanker & Lisa.

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