We were blessed with so much love and support at the celebration of our precious son’s life. It was a beautiful service that exalted our Heavenly Father and honored our son to the fullest extent possible. Our cousin Chad gave a message that, I believe, touched everyone’s hearts in attendance. My sister wrote and presented the most beautiful and poignant eulogy we could have asked for. But what connected with me on the most spiritual, soul-touching level was when my incredible husband stood and shared a few words, along with a letter he wrote to our son. He was gracious enough to say that we wrote it together but it must be said that this came straight from his heart, and so perfectly spoke the words of my own. With his permission, I am sharing his words with you.
“When I decided I was going to come up here and speak, more than a few people questioned whether I should do it. But I knew I needed to. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here and honoring Ethan’s life.
I don’t know how this is going to come out, I was going to try and do an ice breaker. Everyone looks nice. Uncle Randy, you clean up nice too.
I was going to try and stay on script but there’s one thing I knew I had to share. The main question that Katie and battled with this whole journey was asking ourselves, ‘where is God during this situation?’ Over and over again we asked this, even up until Ethan’s birth. When Ethan was born, it was answered. It wasn’t answered in the way we asked for it to be answered. It was answered in many different areas. One area is each one of you here today. The love and support you’ve shown us. The caring, the text messages, the food, the Facebook messages. Everything. Katie and I can absolutely see Jesus. The second thing was when we held our baby boy. When he opened his eyes and looked at us. We could instantly see love, joy, forgiveness all at one moment.
Here’s a note that Katie and I came up with to keep me from doing these sorts of things.
‘To our Son Ethan Kelly James,
My son, you were born into an honorable family; a perfect combination of the James and Howard families. Your family is made of soldiers, artists, caregivers, creators and most importantly God loving men and women who proudly profess the name of Jesus Christ. Our time with you was short but will never be forgotten. Your mother and I loved the thought of you even before you were conceived. When we received the news that you were going to be special our love for you only grew stronger each and every day your mother carried you.
In the beginning we were consumed with grief and felt sorrow that we would only spend a short amount of time with you. Once we understood our Heavenly Father had miraculous plans, many of our sorrows turned into thanksgiving and amazement. We knew he had wonderful plans for you that we couldn’t begin to fathom. He is a loving God who has a profound way of turning our darkest situations into something beautiful. These trials often have the ability to change and touch lives in ways we never knew possible. Your Mother and I loved every second we had with you on this earth. Your Mother cherished every bump, bang and stretch you threw at her. Although your earthly presence is no longer with us, we are blessed to forever be able to call you our son, a part of our family.
One thing we knew we wanted you to experience was a Panthers game. So take you to a game we did! It was a tough one but the Panthers pulled through and I think you even got Cam to complete a pass. Another trip we were able to complete with you was a family Disney trip. Your mom must have walked 100 miles with you and she never even broke a sweat. Your sister and brother had an amazing time and we celebrated you in every moment. You turned heads everywhere your mother walked, I think it was obvious how special you were. We had so many precious moments with you, too many to count.
Many people may look at your condition as one that is incompatible with life, we were told that on several occasions. We know better. Regardless of your earthly imperfections you clearly showed the meaning of life, presenting the peace and perfection of a heavenly angel through the Creators beautiful design. Your mother and I saw beauty and perfection in you that only our divine Father could create. You made heaven real. You made heaven tangible. Your days were numbered before you were conceived, your story was written by the Author of Life. Your precious existence touched the lives of countless people, many we’ve never even met.
The more time that passes since you entered heaven’s gates, the more we are convinced your life was never meant for this world. Just like a glimpse of Jesus in his flesh, the world wouldn’t know what to do with your light. You were a heavenly being from the very beginning. There were people brought into our lives to love and support our family and bring you into this world that were so divinely placed, it’s incredible to think about. You were loved by so many people, near and far, it is absolutely mind blowing. For the longest time your mother and I couldn’t understand why God would put us all in this situation, and create your life only to take it away so soon after your birth. I’m not saying we have it all figured out, but we are learning more and more every day that there was a very specific purpose for you, and you’re leaving a legacy and a story that will touch so many people long after we lay you to rest. We continue to trust in God and his perfectly designed planned for your life and for ours, no matter the cost.
We wish we had more time and many more experiences we could share together. We know you are whole, complete and without any pains with our loving father. Its puts a smile on our face to know you are laughing and playing with our father Ron and grandparents and loved ones. Our hearts have begun to soften and now can more fully comprehend that death and heaven are nothing to fear, but something to look forward to. As a father I can begin to understand the magnitude of God’s love for his son Jesus as he was sent to Earth to fulfill his purpose here. We have our very own guardian angel (possibly with grandpa’s AR-10) watching over us. Do not let him take you Snipe hunting. Trust me.
There are so many things we want to say. We will see you in our dreams, we will send you our love every moment of every day. One day we will be reunited in heaven. Until that day, know that you served your purpose son. You fought the good fight on this earth. You were and are absolutely perfect, one of the greatest joys of our lives. Your Mother and father could not be more proud of you sweet Ethan, and we are honored and blessed to be your parents.
With all that we are, WE LOVE YOU,
Dad and Mom’
Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have you,’ says that Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster. To give you a future and a hope.”
He closed by sharing the meaning of the following song, and how much it has spoken to us over the past few months. (Skillet is one of our favorite bands) We were, again, blessed to have two talented musicians from The Cove Church drive all the way up to Canton to sing our requested songs. We are so grateful to these two young people for their love for the Lord and support of our family. Paraphrased from John’s words, when you feel like you are all alone and surrounded by demons… just remember that if He can hold all the stars in His hands, what makes you think he can’t hold your heart too?