Born on April 29th, her Grandpa Jim’s birthday, Maggie Mabee Colwell’s life lasted 26 whole days in this world before we gave her into the Creator’s hands. There is no doubt that we wanted more days and would have fought to have them if God hadn’t been so clear what the right thing to do was, but we believe with full hearts that God knew from the beginning her days would be numbered to 26. The plan He had for her was perfect and her work was done well. We are so proud to have been her parents.
There has never been a more difficult day in either of our lives. She was physically uncomfortable this morning and it was very hard to watch. A wonderful photographer from a top notch organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep came to do photographs of our family, and then, it was time. It was the next thing on the list and it really snuck up on us. All of the sudden the doctor and nurses were there, medication was given for pain, and it was time to take her breathing tube out.
Joy accepted the opportunity to remove Maggie’s breathing tube, a narrow, 6-inch-long tube that gave her 26 days of life and us 26 days of joy. Because of the medication Maggie didn’t even move. She didn’t cough, she didn’t struggle, she didn’t hurt. Joy picked my daughter up and handed her lifeless but still warm body to me and I wept uncontrollably. It was terrible, but somehow it was beautiful at the same time.
Joy carried Maggie down the hall to the room in which we would spend the final hours of our family life together, a hotel-like room. I laid on the bed with Maggie laying up and down my chest. I had waited to hold her this way for months. It’s one of the patented holding techniques every father is supposed to be able to do, but it wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Not in this place and not under these circumstances. Yet, there was still joy in my painful sobbing. I was finally holding my daughter without any tubes. She wasn’t struggling for breath and I knew she was at peace.
For the first time we saw her face. Her face completely unobstructed. I got to kiss my daughter on the lips the way a daddy is supposed to. There were no tube keeping me from loving her the way I was supposed to.
It took nearly 3 hours for her heart to completely stop beating, but I’m sure the Lord had already taken her into His hands much earlier in the day. Once the doctor checked the last time and couldn’t find any heartbeat we had one final breakdown cry. I laid on my side on the bed with Maggie curled into my chest and I prayed. I told God how sad I was, I told Him how I hurt, and then I thanked Him for taking her. The thing is, this was the first time in my life that I was absolutely sure someone I lost was in heaven. She was perfectly pure with no chance for blemish. I knew God was holding her, and that was enough to let me smile.
We left the hospital, left family, and came home alone. We came into the garage and passed 2 strollers and a car seat on the way into the house while unloading all of the baby-related things from the car. After napping for a few hours Joy and I made our way into Maggie’s room. We sat on the floor and talked about Maggie’s cheeks, what she will wear for the funeral, and which blanket we will bury her with. It was hard talk, but again, there were a lot of smiles and laughs.
I wasn’t going to write this tonight because I didn’t think I could do the day’s story justice in my present mind space, but I couldn’t sleep without writing it. There isn’t much depth or insight involved. I just needed to record everything and I know there are people clamoring to hear.
Maggie is now gone from this world, but there is more of her story to come. Family members have written more testimonials and I will be able to look back soon and reflect on the six months we had with our sweet, chubby-cheeked girl. Thank you to everyone who has supported us, especially our tremendous nurse Jamy. You are a true testament to the beauty of God’s love.
There will be a memorial service for Maggie at Westover Hills Church of Christ in Austin on Monday. There hasn’t been a time set yet, but I will post it as soon as it’s set. Thanks again. We love you all.