December was another milestone in the journey, following a number of months of considering we agreed on the final design of Elijah's headstone. It was created and installed at Memorial Park Cemetery in Linwood Christchurch on December 14 2008. I have included some photos below.
By way of explanation of the names on the top of the headstone - Mister Mister is the name that Julie liked to call Elijah and Elijie is the favourite name Francesca had and still has for Elijah.
Some of you may recognise or have seen this picture before and it was taken at Gethsemane Garden's here in Christchurch. It is one of my favorite photos of my son. It is in fact a very candid photo and not posed at all I happened to have the camera on hand at the right moment. Elijah and I had been meandering through the gardens. It was a Sunday and the was a dusting of Dew on the leafs. This was something that added to the fascination of this particular morning. We had walked up a narrow path and have passed a number of over hanging plants which as he was like to do, Elijah reached out to grab and smile and laugh with delight at the sensory pleasure he derive from having the leaves pass through his hands and a bonus on this particular morning was he addition of moisture. Being a little boy with Angelman Syndrome, he exhibited classic signs of a fascination with water, and so the dew caused his experience to be enhanced - water, water, water. We stopped for a minute a the top of the garden and I put the brakes on the stroller, firstly to rest a little from having climbed he incline, and he second bonus was to admire the stunning views out to he ocean and up the coast. It was at this moment initially withe intention of capturing this vista, I armed myself with the camera. It was in his short space of time hat Elijah turned towards me and I captured his image. Soon after he camera was reholstered that I might be prepared for a yet another of his escape attempts from the confines of the stroller. A gaze of a son towards his Dad and smiling with delight, that delight that appeared on his face with no respect for day or night throughout his life. This gaze was only darkened when he was unhappy or frustrated but not for long, or when he was in pain, or his body was wrenched by seizures. A loving gaze and smile that conveyed love and delight, joy and peace and dare I say fulfilment. A gaze of a son to his mother in only a way that she could understand accompanied by "his noise" and attempts at vocalisation that Julie so often echoed back to him - their language mister mister and his mum. The gaze of affection for his sister and the gentle laughter and the played with him as they played rough and tumble on the lounge floor, a smile and private laughter even when Francesca, admonished, remonstrated him out of love of course. A gaze of love of a son to his Dad, saying" look at me Dad" "aren't you proud of me," "I love you," often followed by outstretched arms to embrace to his dad. A deep gaze that spoke deep into my being. His smile was only reshaped only, his voice hushed only , his laughter quieted only and his body stilled only by his entering into the sleep of eternal life.
Though I do not see him now, for a short time, the pain of his absence at first crashed upon my shore in what seemed to be a tumult, incessant, without end, again and again. As the waves have come and gone upon my shore, his now presence now whispers to me, even at times in my pain in a gentle waves after reminding me of his love and in turn reminding me of my love for him, which transcends time. Reminding me again and again day after day night after night that he journeys with me. Whilst parted we remain yet a breath apart. Whilst his body is taken from my sight and returned to the earth from which it came, I know where his mortal frame lies because it is where I put it, and I have a connection to that place. I have a connection to another place, a city that has no beginning and has no end, a place where pain and sorrow cease, a place that no thought of which can never entertained by my mind let alone a notion has entered into my heart. A city of which Elijah is eternally a citizen, of which I am called to be as well. It is from this vantage point he with saints who have gone before, cheer me on each day and inspire me to live my life everyday, who compels me to share our story, our journey, his mystert which is far from over, and which you who are reading this entry are also caught up into.
I had not intended to write as much as I have - but this is what is on my heart to share with you on the journey tonight. I write from holiday in Blenheim, New Zealand.
May peace be with you and yours
Darren, the Sojourner