Letting Go

Jerard's wheelchair will return to the foundation that donated it to us so another child can use it.

Jerard's strollers have gone to Mercy Maternity Clinic for some poorer Filipino moms to use for their newborns.

Elmo, Jerard's hankerchiefs and one or two toys that seemed to hold his interest are being kept here for safe keeping.

Not only is my heart letting go of my son,
our house is letting go of tangibles so others can be blessed by them.
Yet a tearing happens at the sight of the wheelchair going to storage, at the sight of the strollers leaving the gate for the last time.

And my heart grieves.

I am thankful Jerard is free from pain and a body that wasn't working for him.
I miss rubbing his head, rubbing his arms and legs, holding him...

Grieving takes time
and I press on in my Saviour's love

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also.
for my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing;
my strength fails... and my bones waste away.
I trust in you, O Lord; _I say, "You are my God."
.....My times are in your hand; The Lord preserves the
faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
.....Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
excerpts from Psalm 31

How Does A Four Year Old Process His Grief?

A week ago today Jerard died.
Restlessness floods my soul.
I am up at 3:20a.m.
James must be feeling it too.
He is down at 3:40a.m.
sadness and misery etched on his face.
He went to sleep last night holding one of the bandanas
we'd put around Jerard's neck to catch his drool.
He went to sleep last night asking about Jerard's Elmo and he wants to keep it.
He went to sleep last night saying to me "I miss my brother."

He is restless this morning.
I hold him.
His body relaxes
He sleeps now in my arms.

His brother's departure has left a huge hole in his heart.
How does a four year old process grief?
How do the restless aches of his heart calm?
It will be a long grieving and life long missing of his twin.

He went to the grave site with me yesterday.
Sprawling line designs in the dirt with a stick
He tells me it says, "Jerard, this is Kuya James. I love you.
I miss you so much. See you in Heaven."

and his face registers deep sadness
then in four year old fashion he is off running
but not to far.
He comes back to the grave and says, "Are you sad, Mom?"
I say "yes I am. I'm glad he's in heaven and free of pain but
I really miss my little guy."

He says "I miss my brother, too."

Jerard's Burial 5/22/12

more photos at my facebook account

Explaining A Filipino Wake

Recently, Kurt sent an email to his brother explaining a bit of Filipino tradition regarding death, the wake, and funerals.
We will post more on other aspects of Filipino traditions regarding death, but for now I post this:

Thank you for praying and supporting us the way that you do.

We buried Jerard today.

We had a Filipino style wake/funeral/burial, which is much different than the US style but Beth and I both think that it gives us a chance to grieve more/better, though it is a harder process. We can explain more about that sometime.

Beth and my hearts are quite sad and we are finding ourselves breaking into tears at different points of the day.

But that is the grieving process and we don't want to ignore or deny that real grief. Over time and by God's grace our grief will run it's course and we will have more peace than pain - right now there is more pain (but there is still peace).

I will explain one Filipino tradition regarding wakes that exemplifies the sort of people who are surrounding us here. Filipinos never leave the body alone from the point of death until the grave. Funeral homes run 24/7 with people spending the night with the casket in the funeral home.

I (Kurt) spent the night from Friday until Monday morning there (I went home during the day at different points). On Friday, 3 others were with me, Saturday there were 8, Sunday 10, and Monday night there were 14 and then 3 others who visited from 2 am to 4 am that last night.

Many of the people that were there with me, some on successive nights, I had just met.

I think of Churis and John, two young Christian men who are good friends of my friend Jake. These three spent most of the nights with me. Ben spent the last two nights with me too.

John and Mikayla talking

Arlene, our long time helper and Jake, our good friend who
put together the video for Jerard
and did many other things to help us during this time.

People play games or watch movies, talk, take naps when they need to, and otherwise have a good time together through the night. What an amazing tradition.

It is very tiring, but after just having come through it, I feel a bond with these friends that is deeper and truer than if the tradition was not there.

Anyway, that is a little taste of the differences. Thank you for your prayers.

The Euology I gave

I tend to think in songs.
Early on in the care of Jerard this song by Twila Paris became a background theme song in my head for our Jerard.
A visitor from Heaven
If only for a while
A gift of love to be returned
We think of you and smile

Jerard had a great laugh. A wonderful smile. His smile and laugh could brighten up my day so well.

A visitor from Heaven
Accompanied by grace
Reminding of a better love
And of a better place

Jerard's life has reminded me of a better love...the deep, deep, love of my Saviour.
Jerard could be messy. I changed diapers on him all his life. He drooled. He liked to bite and pinch.
He'd throw up, get sick, be messy....and isn't that how each of us are? A mess? And yet Jesus continues to love each of us just as we are, no matter what mess we are in.

With aching hearts and empty arms
We send you with a name
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

I am so thankful Jerard came. I have no regrets having taken him in and walking him through his life these past four years. He is my son, even if the legal paperwork was not completed. His name is Jerard Gonzales Symanzik.

A visitor from Heaven
If only for a day
We thank Him for the time He gave
And now it's time to say
We trust you to the Father's love
And to His tender care
Held in the everlasting arms
And we're so glad you're there
We're so glad you're there

My arms ache to hold him again. To bathe and feed him, to dress him, rock him, love on him....but I know he is so much happier in heaven and I rejoice for him being there. He can see, he can run and look forward to seeing him again some day.

With breaking hearts and open hands
We send you with a name
His name is Jerard Gonzales Symanzik. My son. One of my five children.
It hurts so much to let you go
But we're so glad you came
We're so glad you came

Jerard has been precious to me.
Jesus made him just the way he was. In Psalm 139 God says each of us are knitted in our mother's wombs. There are no accidents or mistakes.
Jerard's special needs have been irons of fire Christ has used to mold me more into His likeness.
Jerard's blindness taught me to see the depth of love Christ has for me and for each of His children.
Jerard's weakness helped me discover more deeply the truth in God's word that when I am weak, He is strong.
Jerard's inability to balance taught me the need to lean into my Saviour more.
I loved the way Jerard just seemed to melt into me when I'd hold him.
It was a perfect reminder to me of my own need to lean into my Saviour, resting ever in His arms no matter what storm is raging around me.

I thank God for Jerard.

The road these past four plus years has been hard
I do not regret the road we've traveled with Jerard
It's been a road full of mercy
a road leading me closer to my FATHER's love

And all I know is that all is grace
And my FATHER knew what He was doing when He created Jerard,
When He brought him to our family.
I rest in HIS loving arms
Thanking HIM for HIS gift,
Thanking Him for Jerard.

-- Beth Symanzik