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MY EXPECTED GOODBYE TO NOAHLisa King is our new TOFW.com guest blogger. Check in every Tuesday to follow this Austrailian mom's story of strength and courage!

Lisa King

June 12, 2012

It has taken almost eight months, but today the boys and I were standing at Noah’s grave, finally looking at his beautiful plaque and headstone that had just been placed earlier that day. It was particularly beautiful compared to the marker that had been there for the past eight months with just “N. King” on it, but it was a strange feeling to finally see it there.

This was the thing that Aaron and I had in the back of our minds for ten years:  That one day Noah would pass away and we would be arranging his funeral and plaque for his grave. Aaron and I were able to organise Noah’s funeral together, but as I sat in the cemetery office and ordered Noah’s plaque for his grave, I had never felt more alone in my life. To sit in the office ordering two plaques was hard for me to even comprehend. It was like a bad dream sitting there, ordering first Noah’s plaque and then Aaron’s. This was definitely not a part of our plan. My plan wasn’t to bury my son and then, less than four months later, to bury my husband.
When Noah was born, we looked at him and couldn’t believe how beautiful he was. He had dark skin and black hair and a chubby little face. He looked perfect. He was our second son, and we were excited to have a little brother for Jalen. We couldn’t wait to take him home so we could continue our lives together as a little family—now with two boys. 
The next nine weeks were a blur of trying to settle a very, very unhappy little baby. All Noah seemed to do was scream, day and night. After visits to the doctor and trying different things, it became obvious that Noah needed to see a paediatrician.

I went into the paediatrician’s office thinking he would confirm that Noah had reflux, just as our eldest son Jalen had as a baby. Instead, after a very long two days of tests and worry, we were in the hospital with Noah being told that Noah had hydranecephaly—which, we learned, basically meant that he was missing most of his brain. Only his brain stem and the  lower part of his brain were intact. Aaron and I sat holding hands and crying as the doctor explained that it looked like he’d had a stroke during the second trimester of the pregnancy. He then continued to say that this meant that Noah would be severely disabled and would rely on us for everything. He would have seizures, the doctor explained. He would get sick frequently. He’d be in a wheelchair and nappies his whole life. And, the doctor concluded, he would probably only live a maximum of four years.

We sat in disbelief. We couldn’t believe that this could happen to us. It was something you read about or heard about, not something that could actually happen! It didn’t seem fair, and our hearts felt broken as we planned to take home from the hospital a little boy who we felt was different from the one we took in.

The next morning I woke up in the hospital, looked over at sleeping Noah, and couldn’t be strong anymore. I sat on the floor and just sobbed until a nurse came in and sat with her arms around me. I will never forget what she said: “He’s still Noah. He’s not different. He’s just different from what you thought he was going to be.”

When Noah was born, we thought we had this beautiful, perfect son. It was only in the hospital, learning about the condition of his earthly body, that we realised just how perfect he really was. He was so perfect that Heavenly Father sent him to earth in a broken body, but with a perfect spirit. It wasn’t at all what we wished for, but Aaron and I quickly decided that Noah came to us for a reason, and whatever that reason was, we would help to give him the best life possible—no matter how long or short that life would be.

Ten years sounds like a long time, but I never knew how fast ten years would go. When I was caring for Noah day in and day out, sometimes the days and nights seemed so long, and my mind and body were often exhausted. But now, I would give anything now to be up in the night turning him in bed, so he didn’t get pressure sores. I would give anything be suctioning him and giving him physiotherapy to keep his muscles and limbs moving. I would give anything to put on his body, arm, and foot splints. I would give anything to be watching the clock to give the next feed or medications through his tube. I would give anything to help him empty his bowels or bladder. I would give anything to have a sore back from lifting him into his wheelchair or shower chair, or from loading him into our van so that we could take him to his numerous weekly appointments. I would give anything to be sitting next to him in the hospital room as he fought off another illness.

I would especially give anything to go back to his last week on earth—last October, when Aaron and I were sitting with him in ICU, massaging his feet, rubbing his head, telling him how much we loved him. We prayed that day that he would once again surprise the doctors and get well and come back home. But instead, his body continued to shut down while trying to fight off another serious chest infection, and we had to make the heart-breaking decision to turn off his ventilator.

We had waited ten years for that moment. As a whole family, we sat around Noah, and we said goodbye with tears streaming down our faces, telling him how proud we were of him, and how much we loved him. The Spirit was so strong, and we knew it was Noah’s time to return to our Heavenly Father. And despite our tears, we were so happy for him, because we knew he would soon be free of his broken body. We were so happy that we were able to help him have ten years on earth and knew how blessed we were as a family to have been able to do so.

Now my three other boys and I stand at Noah’s grave and look at his beautiful plaque, and continue to feel blessed because we know where he is. I feel at peace when I am at his grave, and I feel so blessed to have him as my son. I learned more in ten years than I ever could have in a lifetime if it weren’t for him. I still wish that we could have had another ten years together, but I am so glad to know that our whole family—Aaron, Noah, my other three boys, and I—can be together again one day, because that is the knowledge that keeps me going.

Lisa King is a woman of faith with a zest for life who loves photography, chocolate, helping children with special needs and being a mum. TOFW first met Lisa at the Sydney, AU event in July 2011. We have been amazed at her ability to SEEK THE GOOD thru the trials that have come her way, including unexpectedly losing her son and husband within 4 months of each other. Lisa was born and raised, and continues to live in the beautiful area of Tasmania, AU and looks forward to the day when she can introduce her boys to Rexburg, Idaho, USA, where she has incredible memories of a year at college before returning to Australia where she met and married her sweetheart, the late Aaron King.

Photo by Alana Aston Photography