Tuesday, September 27, 2011


My nephew passed away a week and a half ago, on a Friday evening, in St. Louis. He was 4 1/2 months old. His mama and his daddy held him while he settled into peace at last, and all of his grandparents were in the room. He was, and is, incredibly loved.

I flew out to be with them that Sunday, my girls in tow. We all had 4 1/2 months to get used to the idea that baby Cole would be leaving us, but that didn't make anything easy. I think I was doing alright, though, until the visitation. We arrived early, as family does, and waited in the next room until Eric and Jennifer were ready to come out and let us in. When they did, I gave Jennifer a hug, and then behind her I saw Eric. And I don't believe I'll ever forget seeing my big brother standing there, still, perfectly pressed in a suit jacket and tie, looking like I usually would see him before something like a holiday, or a wedding, except the look on his face was somehow the exact look of a father who is at the funeral home for his son, his only child, just a little baby who looks like he is sleeping in the next room, but isn't.

All I wanted in the whole wide world at that moment was to be back in our old family room, sprawled out on the floor with our Legos, building spaceships, fighting over pieces, me trying desperately to make something even half as cool as he could - my brother the future engineer - and probably annoying the heck out of him in the process. I just couldn't believe that we weren't there, surrounded by a sea of tiny bright plastic colors, but were here instead, getting ready to receive guests at little Cole's visitation.

Part of me always knew I would have a nephew named Cole. Cole is a family name for us. It was our grandfather's name, the one Eric and I never met, whom my brother Mark only knew as a baby, but about whom we always heard such wonderful stories. My grandfather died from an accident while my mom was expecting Eric, I believe, and Cole became Eric's middle name. My dad's brother's name was Cole, too, and he was certainly a favorite uncle. Any time he called the house and I answered the phone he would make a point to talk to me for a few minutes, asking me how I was, always telling me a joke or two, before asking to speak with my parents. And we lost him too young, as well, from pancreatic cancer when I was in college.

Both times I was pregnant with our girls, before I would find out I was expecting a girl, I remember making a conscious note that as much as I loved the name Cole for a boy, I really shouldn't use it in case Eric would want to use it one day.

And I just can't believe that my nephew Cole finally came, only to leave so quickly. I wanted to get to know him, and I wanted so much to see him growing up with Eric as his daddy. I wanted to see them playing Legos on their family room floor.

We are heartbroken that Cole is gone. Relieved for him in some ways, that his troubles are over, and his little body doesn't have to work so hard. And so happy that he was able to spend two months at home, being loved on and cared for and cuddled by his parents, his parents who were nothing short of amazing during this entire experience. But still we are heartbroken that he is gone. I am heartbroken.

Thank you, friends, to each and every one of you who extended thoughts, prayers, and love to our family. I said it before on facebook, but I want to say it again here because I mean it: every bit of love you sent meant the world.

And I hope and pray that one day, when we ourselves pass through the veil, we will get to know Cole. Until then, I believe that he is in the arms of a loving God, peaceful, and so happy that he was able to spend even a little time with his mama and daddy, who love him so.


Carol Harrison said...

What a wonderful tribute! Thanks for sharing it with us ...especially those of us in the family who wanted so much to be there but couldn't.

Love you,
Aunt Carol

Stacy said...

Oh, Melanie, I am just sitting here crying and crying. My heart breaks for your brother and his wife. I know your family and your faith is strong, but it's just too heartbreaking. Cole is one of the most beautiful names in the world, and I am so honored and lucky that I knew your dad's brother as long as I did. (And lucky that I have my own Zachary Cole to honor him.) I hope the Coles find each other in Heaven and know that we all will carry them in our hearts forever.

Charlotte Thames Van Hoozier said...

I'm just a distant cousin to Carol and Rose, but I followed little Cole's story with tears and prayers. Yes, someday in Heaven we will see him again. Just think, he gets to grow up in Heaven - healed and whole and with His Jesus already, without walking this sinful earth. Pretty awesome to think about. Love to his parents and extended family.
Charlotte Thames Van Hoozier

Jennifer said...


This is just incredibly beautiful. Thank you so much for paying tribute to our Cole in this way.

stacy said...

Thank you, so much, for writing this. I wanted to be close and to offer love and support and hold their hands and kiss baby Cole and so so so much more. Thank you for sharing all this so I could feel there to witness his short but love-filled life. My heart aches so much for their pain, but what a beautiful, wonderful family you are all a part of. May it bring everyone comfort. Much love, xxx