Sunday, January 22, 2017

Maya Journey: The Value of Broken Things (funeral post 3)

Maya Journey: The Value of Broken Things (Maya's funeral continued)
(These are the words Nate shared at Maya's funeral and again at the cemetery.)

Months before Maya was born, Gillian and I went to have an ultrasound checkup and we were overjoyed to learn that we were going to have our first baby girl. At the same time we were shocked to learn that Maya had several health challenges which additional testing revealed all stemmed from a
congenital disorder known as Trisomy 18. Immediately we felt overwhelmed with uncertainty and questions. We didn’t know whether Maya would be born alive or not. We didn’t know how to explain what was happening to our three boys. This was the kind of thing that happened to other families, the kind of thing you witnessed from a safe distance on Facebook. This kind of thing didn’t happen to our family. Not to our daughter.

We learned that if Maya was born, she might only live a matter of minutes and so we carefully planned every possible birth outcome with our Geisinger medical team. If Maya had seconds to live we just wanted to hold her and briefly get to know her. If she had minutes to live we wanted to her brothers to hold her and get to know her. If she had hours I would give her a blessing. If she had days we would take her home. That was our ultimate goal and something we were grateful to eventually do. These past six months with Maya have been an unexpected blessing as we have been able to meet and bond with her.

One thing we learned about her after we put up our Christmas decorations was that Maya loved staring at the lights on our garlands and Christmas tree. Often I would try to bring her head up to feed her or rock her and she would jerk her small frame backwards so that she could continue to stare up at the lights.

(Here is a link to a sweet video of Maya and Daddy)

Maya loved to be touched softly. Rubbing her head and forehead would calm her down and make her sigh happily. Maya knew her mom’s sounds and her touch and would follow her voice by tilting her head backwards and moving her eyes. When I was holding Maya and Gillian walked into the room, Maya seemed to instantly know it and would move her head to look at her, which usually meant Maya would stare at her with her head upside down.

Maya has big beautiful blue eyes and we loved to look right at her and talk to her. In the last few days of Maya’s life we would stare into her eyes and she would baby talk to Gillian and me as if to explain how her day was going or to talk about concerns that were on her mind. We have come to love Maya so much and have experienced a lifetime of love condensed into a six month period.

(Teaching Maya how to Sunday nap)

It is unexpected to think that such a tiny person could make a lasting impact on so many people, but that is exactly what she did for those who served her and shared in her struggle, especially me.

These months with Maya have forever altered my perspective on so many things – I’ll name two:

1. The first thing I did not realize before Maya was born was just how much love and compassion there was in so many people, in all of you. Let me back up and explain that I am from originally from the west coast and two years ago, I took an HR Manager role at PepsiCo’s Gatorade production site, in Mountain Top. When my family and I moved here, I was warned from the person whose role I backfilled – another Westerner – that “Northeasterners can be blunt and cold”. My experience has been that this so-called Northeastern “bluntness” and “coldness” is actually better described as passion and sincerity. Over the past several months my family has been served in countless ways by you awesome Northeasterners – my home has been cleaned numerous times, countless meals have been provided, late night and early morning visits have been made, my children watched again and again there have been too many acts of kindness and generosity to my family to list.

Before Maya was born I had my share of cynicism about the world – too often I looked for ulterior motives. In a world that is driven by the bottom line I grew accustomed to believing that there’s a catch to everything and that people were never kind just for the sake of being kind, but sincere kindness and service is EXACTLY what Maya and I have received from each of you again and again when there was nothing we could give in return.

2. The second thing I have learned from Maya is that God values broken things. Maybe I have OCD or maybe it’s just human nature, but when I see something or someone broken, it is difficult for me to be satisfied until that thing or person is fixed or made right. As a parent and husband I feel secure knowing that I am in control of my family’s destiny; that I can provide for my family; that I can keep my family safe. Maya’s condition was one that, try as I might, I couldn’t fix. Maya’s condition was one that doctor’s couldn’t fix. It is easy to wonder why a loving Father in heaven would allow Maya to be born that way. Why would a loving God create broken people like Maya? For that matter, why would He allow suffering and strife at all? More than ever before, in sharing Maya’s life, I have learned that there is deep purpose in suffering. In Maya’s brief life she influenced for good everyone who met her. It is not merely positive thinking that allowed me to accept and even appreciate that God allows us to live in a broken world with pain, sorrow, and uncertainty where I myself am broken in so many ways. I am grateful to God that he allows his miracles to be manifested through broken me, broken you, and broken Maya. God has calmed the storms in my family’s lives again and again. He provided us peace in the midst of chaos, and hope and purpose in the midst of despair often through selfless acts of service to our family, again, and again. I don’t know exactly why God allowed Maya to be born with so many physical challenges and why he took her so soon, but I do know that He has taught my children, Gill and me more about ourselves and about his love for us and the eternal nature of our family in this way than by any other way. When Maya was born and every month afterwards we celebrated with balloons and cake and we will celebrate again when we are reunited.

(5 month celebration!)

 God teaches our hearts this central truth that families are forever and they do not need to end after this life and for that reason, despite the pain and sorrow of this life we can celebrate and thank God that family and true love never die.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Following Nate's talk our dear friend Kirk Johnson spoke about how we did not "lose" Maya but that she is ours forever.
Naturally after a talk like that we all sang Joy to the World if you can believe it:) In the songs we chose for the funeral are words pleading to the Lord to be near us and to bless our dear children, words of a silent and holy night, and also words to rejoice.
The timing of Maya's passing causes us to reflect more deeply on the birth and the life of Jesus Christ.  We brought Maya to be buried in California and we had to leave before dawn on Christmas morning, and although I would not have picked that time, what better day to travel to bury my child than on the day we celebrate the birth of He who redeems us from death and sin and carries our sorrow.

Maya's funeral took place 12-22-2016 at LDS Chapel, Wilkes-Barre, PA & her burial was 12-27-2016 at Clovis, CA Cemetery

So many thanks to all who made long and short journeys out to support us at Maya's funeral, open house in PA and as well as the open house and burial service in California.

Much love and more next time.

1 comment:

  1. God does value broken things. Love you guys! I'm going to wipe my eyes and go to work now! Lol inspiring morning read.