Sunday, 18 Nov 2001

Tomorrow we bury our son. The child we've cared for, nurtured, disciplined, loved, supported, fed, hugged, taught, and so many endless things we cannot cover them all. The child who trusted us, loved us, teased us, followed us, hugged us, learned from us...The child God gave to us 16 years ago in October, in Oakland, California. He came into this world at 2:21 in the afternoon. Recently I asked God to help me let him go, to help me give him back. I needed help to do that. And God reminded me that when Phil was born, the doctor asked Jim if he would like to cut the cord, and it took him so by surprise, that he declined. So, the doctor asked me if I would like to. I said I would, and I did. It was interesting. I remember it like it was yesterday, the thickness of it, and being surprised by that. God reminded me that I cut the cord then, cut him away from me, and I must do that again. Release him. God prepared my heart for that when I asked him to. Ask and you shall receive. I know of no other way that I could have encouraged Phil to go home. To tell him it was okay to go, that I wanted him to. How could I do that? How could any parent? But I did, with God's strength. The only thing I asked of Phil was to please let me be there. I would sit by his bed for hours, and then Jim would come and spend time with him while I took a break. Before I left the room, I would look at Phil very intently, and tell him I was going to get something to eat, or whatever, and please "don't leave while I'm gone". God knew how important it was for me to be there at the end, after all we had gone through. I'm a person who likes to finish what I start, and don't get in my way! :) And I was there, and I'm so grateful to have been. I was telling people that God answered every prayer we ever prayed except to heal Philip on this earth and then this morning it came to me...God answered EVERY prayer we prayed. When Phil said "Mom, I think God is healing me", He was! God healed Phil on this earth, and then He took him home! It was time to go, he was finished with what God had called him to do, but not until God, who is ever faithful, answered that last prayer. When some time had passed, I said, "God how am I going to go to bed tonight, and get up in the morning with no one to take care of?". It was so difficult to even think about, but guess what? God answered that prayer to. The phone rang first thing in the morning and I could hear Jim saying, "May I tell her who's calling?". Then he turned to me and said "Tony missed the bus, he needs a ride to school". Tony is my friend's son who lives a few blocks from here. Tony's mom and I met 1½ years ago and have grown very close because she lost her son Gregory at age 7, three years ago. She helps me in so many ways. I got out of bed, still in my sweats from sleeping with Phil that night before, and sat on the end of my bed to put on my shoes. Bent over tying them, the tears were just dripping as I was smiling and saying to Jim, "God knew I needed someone to take care of this morning." God in the details of our lives.

........But can you believe it? Can you believe how far off track I've gotten from the beginning of this e-mail? I laugh, because I have so much I want to share with you because in between the pain, I see God so clearly, and He is so good! Please pray that I remember that tomorrow, as we stand beside Phil's coffin, on that hill. Please pray that I remember that when it is lowered into the grave. Please pray that I remember that when we turn, and have to walk away and go home. Please pray that I remember that when it hurts so bad I can't breathe and I want to rip my clothing in mourning for him. I could never understand people doing that before when I saw it on TV or when I heard about that Jewish custom. Now I understand.

Tomorrow could be the hardest day of our lives. I almost pray that it is, because after that, what would we fear? I don't know how it will be. I don't know if my imaginings could come close, I barely allow my mind to go there. It is tomorrow, and He has given me such a great peace for today, have I not learned to stay on today?! I have learned that we won't be alone. We are going to play the song that says, "we are standing on Holy ground, and there are angels all around". I know we will feel the presence of God, and He will not leave us to do this alone. He has not brought us this far, to abandon us now. I know that. There are many things I know now that I never would have known had it not been for Phil's life, but that doesn't make it easy. It just makes me grateful for my son, and all that God taught us through him. And, I must let him go this one last time, physically. I must walk away and leave him with God. Please pray...

In His Grip, Diane