Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Memorial for Grace Alice Gilbert-Fagen

My wife Jennifer and I expected our third child on January 1. Unfortunately, when we went in on Thursday, January 4 to induce labor, they weren't able to find a heartbeat. Jennifer had been in on Tuesday, January 2 for a non-stress test, and the baby was happy and healthy from all indications.

While delivering the baby, we discovered that there had been a cord accident. The cord had wrapped very tightly twice around her neck some time late Tuesday night and become compressed to the point where blood flow was blocked. In every other way, she was a perfect baby.

We decided to call her Grace Alice Gilbert-Fagen.On Saturday, February 3, we had a memorial service for Grace at our home. Family, friends and co-workers showed up to support us in our moment of great sadness. Jennifer and I both said a few words. Jennifer read the following poem:

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).
Complete Poems. 1924.

Part Three: Love


I HELD a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep.
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: “’T will keep.”

I woke and chid my honest fingers —
The gem was gone;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.

I read something that I had written for the occasion:

Last spring, I wrote a poem.
It was a short poem, only 23 lines long.
Into that poem I put everything that I am:
all of my hopes, all of my dreams, and all of my love for my family.

I gave that poem to Jennifer, and she bound it into a book.
It was a short book, with only 23 pages to start, but plenty of room to grow.
She put into that book everything that she is:
all of her hopes, all of her dreams and all of her love for our family.

We waited patiently, and in the case of Eloise and Lucy not so patiently,
for the author to arrive. We wondered what the story might turn out to be.
We wondered if the author might be an artist, like Eloise.
We wondered if the author might be a gymnast, like Lucy.
We wondered if the author might be a dreamer, like me.
We wondered if the author might be the best of all possible people, like Jennifer.

The cover was beautiful, the spine was strong, and the pages were smooth and blank.
The book was perfect. The pages were ready for the author to write the story.

But in the end, when the book was delivered, the author was missing.
A tragic accident took the author from us before the story could even get started.
Grace Alice Gilbert-Fagen will never have the chance to write her own story.
And so, in her honor, we who love her, gather to write the epilogue.

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