Knowing Jesus Changes Everything

Tage is in Heaven now.

I have to keep reminding myself of that.

He took his last breath on Sunday afternoon, November 16th, at 12:25pm.  I was holding him in my arms in the rocker where I have held him many, many times, many dark middles of the night.  He and I would sit and rock together, while the rest of the street slept calmly out the window.  At those 3 a.m. rendez-vous, I could barely keep my eyes open, but I could take in his scent and feel his warm, little body against mine.  Safe.  Together.  I loved those moments.

I hope he felt that same safeness as he drifted from this life to the next.  He looked peaceful at the end, and he was surrounded by a dozen grandparents, aunts, and uncles who loved him all crammed into the little space that is his nursery, all straining to see his face as his breaths became slower, more far apart.  Josh was holding his tiny hand and leaning in as close as he could get.

His methodical breathing became sporadic, his eyes remained close, and his feet were turning cold.  Then, he took one last gasp.

Tage is in Heaven now.

After his last breath, we all held ours as we waited to see if he would take one more or not.  Josh reached in to feel his pulse, and said, “He’s gone.”  The room was silent.  As the weight of those words hit me, I let out the weeping I had been holding in, and then the rest of the room followed.  There were no words exchanged, just a dozen of us crying together, holding each other, as we realized our world had just been rocked.  We had been holding on for a miracle, but God had other plans.

Honestly, about three days before Tage died, I sensed in the places of my heart where only the Lord can speak that He was telling me that Tage would not be healed this side of Heaven, but that it would be okay.  He would make it okay.  He would hold us.  And so I had surrendered to that thought a few days before, but I still prayed for a miracle.  A mom can’t stop praying for her baby.

Tage is in Heaven now.

I held his little body and pulled him in close to my chest, as close as I could get him.  I clutched him so tightly, and yet I couldn’t get him close enough.  I squeezed him as hard as I’d wanted to squeeze him the past few weeks as he’d been sick.  My shoulders went down as the nearness of him seeped into my chest.  Oh, how I had wanted to hold him like this for so long.  As my tears dropped down and splashed on his face, I told him that I loved him more than I ever imagined I could.  I told him we are so proud of him.  That he is MY baby.  That he had changed our lives forever, and we will never forget him.  That he will always be a huge part of us.  I took in deep whiffs of the smell of his head, my favorite smell in the whole world.  I tried to memorize that smell, to memorize the feel of his squishy lips against mine and the way his pudgy fingers felt when I rubbed mine across them.  I’m going to miss his details, those little things that made him mine.

Tage is in Heaven now.

As the next hour passed, it was clear to us that what was left was just the shell that once housed Tage’s soul.  Tage was not there anymore.  I was reminded of this encouragement from 2 Corinthians 5:1-8:

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.  We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing.  For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.  While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.  God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.  For we live by believing and not by seeing.  Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.”

Tage is in Heaven now.

Tage is at home with our Lord.  He is with Jesus, and his broken, little body that prevented him from performing some of the tasks our bodies were made to perform has been healed.  He smiles.  He eats.  He drinks.  He makes sounds and laughs.  He can sit, crawl, walk, and run.  I am so glad for that for Tage.

I remembered all this, and yet, I cried.  I missed him already.  It had only been a few minutes.

Then, our pastor told us the man from the funeral home had arrived to take Tage’s body away.  He was a man with gentle eyes she told me, and somehow, knowing that allowed me to get up and follow Josh as he carried our baby boy down to the front door to meet the man with gentle eyes.

Josh handed our baby, wrapped in the blanket that his aunties gave him on the day he was born, over to the man with gentle eyes.

“Take care of him for us,”  Josh said as he held Tage out to the man.

“I’ve got this,” the man whispered.

No joke.  That’s what he said.

We watched the man step out into the blustery cold with our baby bundled up in his arms, and I thought that maybe Tage would need an extra blanket.  Then, he walked down the sidewalk, and I saw only the top of my baby’s head one last time as they walked behind his large vehicle.  And then they were gone.

He was gone.

I turned to someone, I can’t even remember who it was, and I fell on their shoulder.  I cried harder than I have ever cried in my entire life.  Loud, deep, gutteral sounds were coming out from the depths of my body, my entire chest heaved, and I felt like I might throw up from the pure force of my weeping.  I had never made sounds like that before.  I think it might have been the sound of my heart being ripped out.

Next to me, I could see only the back of Josh and his shoulders shook violently while he cried in the arms of two other people.

Lord, I wept in my mind, this hurts too much.  How could you let us experience this pain?  Why didn’t you stop it?  Bring him back!  Please!  I can’t do this.  I can’t live for years without him, without my baby!  No!  No!

When the tears had all been cried (for that moment), we walked back into living room where our family and a few friends were waiting quietly, and for the rest of the evening, we were all together.  We talked, we cried, we laughed, we ordered pizza (from two different places because Josh and I have extremely different favorites when it comes to pizza).

Meanwhile, an uncharacteristic mid-November snow continued to gently fall outside — a soft, white, gentle covering that was symbolic to all of us of God’s grace and presence with us.

“I’ve got this,” the Lord continued to show us — in the snow, in the man from the funeral home, in the people who were surrounding us in that moment.

Around 10pm our exhaustion got the best of us, and we headed up to our bed.  Someone had come up and made the bed for us, picked up the floor, put flowers on our bedside table.  More small touches to remind us that we are not alone and that we are loved.

Thankfully, Josh’s sleeping aid knocked him out quickly.  I continued to lie there both glad that the worst day of our lives was over, and also not wanting the day to end because it was still a day in which Tage was alive.  He saw November 16th, but he wouldn’t see November 17th.  I didn’t want to start that first day without him.

We didn’t set an alarm.  There was no need to go check on him to make sure he was breathing, to get up and give him pain medicines, to feed him through his g-tube in the middle of the night.

We didn’t turn on the monitor next to our bed.  There was nothing more to monitor.

We didn’t leave our door open so we could hear him.

I lied in bed and scrolled through all of the sweet texts and Facebook messages. Then, I scrolled through all the pictures of Tage on my phone and cried silently.  I miss him already.  I know where he is, and that he’s safe and happy and healthy.  I know that he’s already met Jesus and my mom (his “Muv”), and Josh’s uncle Calvin, and that does bring comfort.  But I missed him.  I just missed him.

Come quickly, Lord.

Then, I rolled over and turned the light off.

See you later, Buddy. Our lives are better because you were born. You accomplished more ministry in your 244 days of life than most people do with seventy times that amount of time on earth. May you enjoy the jeweled crown you so appropriately deserved. Be sure to work on your basketball skills so you can school your daddy when he joins you someday.

My dear friends, our hearts are hurting.
We might have lost Tage; but he’s not lost.

God has him.
God has us.

He’s just holding us on different ends of eternity.

Jesus died for all of us so that death would not be the end. Tage is in Heaven.

Knowing Jesus changes everything.

Everyone is welcome to join us for a service to celebrate Tage’s life at The Church at the Crossing on Thursday, November 20th, at 5:30pm. Thank you so much for your prayers and support.

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