Until We Meet Again

Our sweet baby boy returned to his heavenly home on Wednesday, December 23, 2015.
When I started writing his eulogy, I kept experiencing writer's block. I couldn't seem to find the words to say, or how to put down the thoughts I wanted. It occurred to me that I was having a hard time figuring out how to tell everyone else about Max's life and his passing. I just really only wanted to talk to Max. So, I wrote him this letter and this became his eulogy. Reading it at his funeral is one of the hardest things I have ever done. 

I held his fox in my hand, a tissue in the other and I said goodbye to my perfect son.

My sweet boy, Max 

Your story begins long before your birth, long before we even knew you existed. Your story began 4 years ago when we decided we were ready for someone like you. Mommy and Daddy wanted so much to start a family, but Heavenly Father knew we needed a long time to get ready for you. So, he prepared us.

After the first year we started seeing a doctor and found out that certain things weren’t working for Mommy to be able to have a baby. After shots and medications, we were thrilled to find out we were pregnant with Boston. But he couldn’t stay very long and we lost him when I was only a few months along. When we finally felt emotionally prepared to start trying again, nothing worked. Month after month, the medicines that worked before didn’t work again. When the doctors told us we needed to discuss new, more extensive treatments we weren’t ready. Mommy and Daddy just needed more time.

By spring of this year, my heart felt so heavy I could hardly hold it in my chest anymore. I needed help. So, I made a covenant with Heavenly Father. I promised to go to the temple every day for a week, and in return I asked that He would give me the peace I needed to keep moving forward and to know what to do next. I kept my promise, and the Lord did even better on his end. That week, much to our surprise, we found out that we were going to have a baby- we found out about you.
It was impossible. It didn’t make sense medically or physiologically. But after 3 pregnancy tests and an ultrasound we knew it was true. You were a miracle, and you were coming at Christmas. What could be a better gift?!

At 16 weeks, we waited impatiently as the doctor searched and then announced, “It’s a boy!” You should’ve seen the relief on your Daddy’s face, buddy!

At 20 weeks, we sat in shock as the doctor slowly and carefully explained to us that you had a lot of developmental problems. And he confirmed our greatest fears when he expressed that he didn’t know if you could survive even to delivery, or if you’d live long after birth. Our hearts shattered on the exam room floor. All we wanted was to see you, hold you, love you and watch you grow. Max, we prayed and pleaded with Heavenly Father to protect you. Suddenly, despite all the fear and heartache we had in the office, by the time we got home we had the most incredible peace. We knew you were so special and we knew that no matter what happened everything would be okay. It was then that we knew and understood the purpose behind all those years of infertility and losing Boston. Our faith was strong enough now. We were strong enough for you now. Heavenly Father needed us to be the best we could be for you.

We had lots of tests, doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, talks and prayers over the next 14 weeks. Daddy loved to lay his head on my belly to feel you kick, and I loved watching you wiggle and squirm.

By 33 weeks it became clear that the most worrisome of your conditions, the hydrocephalus, was rapidly increasing. The fluid continued to fill your enlarging ventricles, and on ultrasounds you started to show signs of distress. So, at 34 weeks and 2 days, on November 17, 2015 we brought you, Max Carter King into our world.

I laid on the OR table and watched Daddy’s face as he saw you for the first time. His eyes filled with tears, and with a voice so reverent he told me you were finally here and you were beautiful. You couldn’t breathe and they rushed you away for help. Hours later, on their way the Primary’s NICU, they brought you to my bedside and we met for the very first time. Daddy was right. Oh Max, you were SO perfect. I reached out to you and your tiny fingers wrapped around my finger and you opened your eye. Here we were, together at last. Your beautiful big head, meningocele on the back of your neck, your darling tiny blind eye, cleft lip and palette, your clubbed foot, and your tilted heart; despite it all, despite the odds stacked against you – You were here. My heart was bursting and I knew right then that every minute spent with you would be better than being in heaven.
You were the bravest boy and endured 2 very big, very difficult surgeries. You had many angels who helped you and loved you, especially Teresa, Sara and Kim.

When you were 4 weeks old you got an infection, but we got you on antibiotics and it really helped. Soon enough you looked better and more like yourself again. We began to hope that you might be able to prove you could breathe on your own and come home soon. You were so strong and you fought so hard! It seemed like we were going to get our wish when you started breathing over the ventilator and the doctor started making plans to take out your breathing tube. But the next day, everything changed.

When we came in on Monday, we found out your infection had returned and could not be stopped. Your incision sites from the shunt were infected and getting worse. You couldn’t breathe much on your own anymore and you were very sick. They gave us some options, but there really wasn’t much choice. After 5 perfect, wonderful weeks we were going to lose you. We didn’t have much more time.

Heavenly Father blessed us with the most tender mercies to give us the perfect last 2 days with you. Grandma and Papa Garrett had come from Arizona just days before, an angel at Delta airlines had changed Uncle Jason and Aunt Alex’s flights from January for free, and Uncle Jarid had taken the week of Christmas off from work. Teresa, your miracle working nurse, got us a private family room to move into. So, by Tuesday, all the people who loved you most were there.

We knew it was getting harder for you to hold on, but we begged you to fight to stay a little longer. And you did, sweet boy. You held on with all your might to give everyone time to see you, meet you and love you a little more.

At last, in the early morning hours on Wednesday, we couldn’t make you fight anymore. We knew in our hearts we had to let you go. You’d fought for so long to stay with us. We promised you it wouldn’t be much longer before your most special angels, Great Grandpa King and Great Grandpa Garrett would come to take you home to heaven.  You looked so tired there in my arms. It was time. So, Grandma and Grandpa King, Uncle Jarid and Aunt Kylee, Grandma and Papa Garrett, and Uncle Jason and Aunt Alex gathered around us while we held you close. Reverently, each one of them came and knelt before you to say how much they loved you, how you changed their lives, and to say goodbye. Then the doctor and Teresa came, and at long last, took out that stinking breathing tube. They peeled back the tape that had held it in place and we finally got to see your beautiful cleft lip. They slid out that tube you hated so much and you took a deep breath on your own as you smiled. You beat all the odds and breathed for us while we held you close. After 5 long weeks there were no more tubes, no more chords, nothing to keep us from pulling you in close, snuggling you, kissing your face, and holding you just like we’ve always wanted. Your breaths became labored and we told you it was okay. You had fought a good fight and you didn’t need to anymore. Daddy told you we’d be okay, that you could go and we would be fine. But your eye searched ours, as if to be sure. We promised you.

As I held you in my arms and Daddy held us both in his, you smiled at us one last time and took your last great breath, and then you were gone.

Max, you are the greatest miracle of our lives. You are our perfect angel son. We can’t believe you and God thought we were worthy enough for you. We are honored to be your Mommy and Daddy. In just 5 short weeks you fulfilled a great mission on this earth. Without meeting many people, you changed the lives of many. Your loving, incredible, giant spirit reached out through the walls of the hospital, through your pictures, and through us. You made the world a better place. You made people believe in miracles. You rekindled faith and strengthened testimonies. You brought us all closer to Christ. You made us all want to be better.

We wish so much you could have stayed here with us on earth, but we will settle for a guardian angel. How blessed we are to know that families are forever. How grateful we are that you went straight from our arms and into the arms of our Savior.

We love you forever, Mighty Max. You are the King of our Hearts.
Until we meet again, sweet boy.