The End

To read the previous post click The Celebration

When Keven’s feeding machine went off at 4am on December 10, 2016, I turned over, put my glasses on, flipped on the light and saw him. He was leaning over in his chair, with his head resting on the side of my bed. As fast as I could move at that hour of the morning I kneeled down in front of him and pushed his limp body back straight. 

He was already a little cold. He was already a little hard to move. I wasn’t ready. Not yet. I put my hand on his chest, willing movement. I held his wrists, his ankles, anything to feel a pulse. Nothing. There was no denying it anymore. 

 I played this moment over and over in my mind so many times in the months prior to it actually happening. None of them were like this moment. No matter how you prepare for it, you are never ready.

I called Courtney (our nurse). “I think he did it.” (imagine getting that as a wake up call at 4am, sorry Courtney) “Did what?” “I think he died.” 

Saying think was my last hope. I knew, but there was a part of me that wanted it to not be true. I had always thought that as soon as I knew he was dead I would take all of the tubes off his face right away. I couldn’t do that yet though, maybe I was wrong and I didn’t want to have to put everything back in again. 

Courtney and Carla showed up and it only took Courtney a moment to confirm. I didn’t kiss him goodnight until midnight. He was so peaceful. There were so many nights when I’d kiss him goodnight and wonder if I would see him alive again, but not that night. His breathing was calm, he was so comfortable. It was one of a few nights it was easier to fall asleep because of how peaceful he was. It was only four hours that I slept. 

I often wonder how those hours would have played out differently if I stayed awake. I wish I was holding him. I wish he felt the comforting touch of love as he took his last breaths. I wish I was there for him. I feel like I abandoned him in his last moments of life. 

He had to have died shortly after I went to sleep based on how stiff he already was. What if I just stayed up one more hour? How easy would that have been?

After Courtney confirmed his death, we laid him on a blanket, took the tubes off his face, and cleaned him up. What a handsome face he had—sometimes I forgot what he looked like without tubes. We dressed him in an outfit someone had sent him for Christmas, a Christmas we wouldn’t get to celebrate with him. 

The rest of the morning was a blur. Cleaning up things from my room, preparing for the funeral, and just sitting. I had to tell the nannies what happened. Three were working and several more received phone calls. Each time it was just as hard. All throughout the last months of Keven’s life I envisioned all of these events and played out all of the scenarios. All except telling the other children. I couldn’t imagine what that would be like. I was never prepared for that. Carla asked me just before the children started to wake up if I was ready to tell them. Absolutely not. How do you explain to two and three year olds that a child they have lived with for a couple of years has died? Basically, a brother. In case you are wondering, it’s terrible, but they deserved to be told the truth. Thankfully, they are toddlers, and most of them didn’t dwell on it, they were just concerned with eating breakfast. We had more conversations as it was brought up in the next days and less occasionally throughout the next months. 

It took a while to get everyone and everything ready for the funeral. It was an overcast but also sunny day. It seemed perfect to celebrate Keven’s life. He always kept us guessing, especially the last eight months of his life; sometimes people would ask me how he was doing and I really didn’t know how to answer because he could go from status quo to dramatic or vice versa at a moments notice. He was a weird kid, but he was my weird kid.

At his funeral we had to wait a little bit for the guy to come unlock the cemetery. When we have funerals here, whoever cared for the child or played a part in their life goes to the cemetery. We stand around the burial site as the cemetery staff member covers the casket up with dirt. As this happens we read verses and sing songs picked out specifically for the child. Keven’s funeral was well attended-one of the biggest of our kids at COTP that I have been to. Every nanny that worked in the Life House except one who came late, our person who does physical therapy, a driver, one of our Haitian nurses (the other wanted to be there but didn’t get a time change memo), a sub nanny who cared for him in the hospital, Carla, Courtney, and I were all there. Keven was so loved. 

One of the songs we sang was “It is Well,” the new version. I had listened to that song so many times during the weeks we waited for Keven to die and it brought me comfort. Standing there, watching them cover my Keven up with dirt with tears rolling down my face, I surprised myself. I didn’t want to believe those lyrics, the ones I chose. It wasn’t well with my soul. I didn’t like the events that had taken place that morning. I wasn’t okay and my soul wasn’t well. I was a little angry. Why did this child have to die?

We read John 14:1-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” 

We also read Psalm 139:13-18 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”

God knew the number of days Keven had. God had prepared a place for Keven and he was ready to take him there. God created Keven—he knew he existed before his parents ever did. God made Keven perfect. He was fearfully and wonderfully made. What a beautiful picture that paints. God loved Keven. It was time for Keven to experience heaven, which made me excited for him, but it was also time for Keven to leave us, which made me sad. I didn’t want to stop being able to hold and cuddle with Kev. 

Everyone there knew this was hard for me. They knew how much time I spent in my room with Keven and could tell how tired I seemed when I wasn’t in my room. They initiated a hug train and everyone hugged everyone, starting with me. In those moments I felt really loved. I felt bad because I wanted to comfort them as I knew Keven’s life had impacted each and every person who was present, but I couldn’t. I didn’t talk the whole way to the funeral, during the funeral, or the whole way back. It was kind of an out of body experience, I didn’t quite know how to function or what my life would look like now that this tiny human I had spent so much time loving and caring for in the previous eight months no longer needed that care. I wasn’t sure how to process all of this. 

Its kind of an unwritten rule that after funerals we hang out with each other. It was decided that the spot of choice was the depot, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to hang out. I didn’t feel like talking and I tried to just walk back to my room. Carla and Courtney encouraged me to join and I didn’t really want to be alone either, so I did. I felt much different than after any other funeral I had been to before. I felt like a piece of me was gone. Only a couple other funerals had I known a child for as long as I knew Keven and never had I spent so many hours caring for such a sick child as I did with him. I remember Carla, noticing my demeanor, asking me what I needed. I really didn’t know what I needed. I needed friendship and Carla and Courtney were there. We talked for a while—or more so they talked and I sat there until I could add to the conversation. We picked out our favorite picture of Keven, one from his last formals before he got sick back in early April, to use for the Facebook announcement.

Then came the process of learning to live my life again without a child dying in my bedroom.

Here is the final blog in this series The Aftermath.

*Children of the Promise has given explicit permission for the posting of photos on this site. Photos taken of children in the care of Children of the Promise are not to be posted publicly without explicit permission given by Children of the Promise.  


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