Saturday, February 11, 2012

Drake's Memorial Service

Drake William Peterson's Memorial ServiceFebruary 7, 2012 3:30 p.m.

It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was more than I'd hoped for. God blessed us through others. All the words spoken were of great comfort. The music was beyond beautiful. It was also extremely difficult and heart breaking, but in a way that felt like the beginning of healing. The very very beginning. We have a LONG way to go.

The service was planned to be outside at one of our favorite parks, Elings Park. The park is near our home, up on a tall hill that overlooks the Santa Barbara coastline. We were looking forward to remembering Drake in this special spot, but the weather did not cooperate. Of course, it was one of the FEW days it was not perfect weather in Santa Barbara. Oh well, we had a back up plan. Instead, the service was held at Montecito Covenant Church. This is the Church where Jon grew up, his father was pastor there for about 25 years. It is not where we currently attend church, but it is a place filled with sentiment and it is a beautiful sanctuary. Also, our current church meets in an auditorium, so not really an option. Anyway, it all worked out and people were comfortable and not battling with the weather.

Our pastor, and friend, Jon Ireland led the service. Jon Ireland has known Jon (Peterson) since his childhood. Jon Ireland was Jon's youth pastor, and now he is our pastor at Ocean Hills Covenant Church. He has been a support to us in many ways over the past couple of years since we have moved here. He led the service with grace and his words were powerful. Unfortunately, I don't have the text to his message.

Jeff Given led us in song. He is a close friend/ brother to our family. His arrangements of Jesus Loves Me and Children of the Heavenly Father were gorgeous. I was struck by the strength of his delivery of these songs. Jeffrey's musical gifts have always inspired us, but touched us in an entirely different way as he sang for our son.

Jon's Dad, Curt Peterson, gave the Eulogy:

From the earliest days of pregnancy the mystery of the life of Drake William was known fully to God – loved and blessed child. This we believe.

It was in December when the baby boy of Jon and Stacy was called by name – Drake William Peterson. A person and personality began to be formed in our minds and prayers. Also in December, Drake William was diagnosed with cardio myopathy – a weak heart muscle. Cardiologists in Santa Barbara, at UCLA, and at Stanford all confirmed the 1% chance of sustained life for Drake. The weaving of the strands of grief, hope and faith began for Jon and Stacy and all our family.

Prayer became the breathing rhythm of our lives – inhaling the comfort, love, and grace of God; exhaling our fears, our cries for mercy, our pleas for the miracle of healing.

Like the Gospel’s persistent widow seeking justice and the person of shameless audacity knocking on the door of a friend at midnight– we prayed and prayed and prayed – all of us and a host of believers around the world, literally – passionate prayers I witnessed in the past two months calling out to God for strength, peace, healing, miracles.

It was Stacy – loving mother – who carried Drake’s fragile life in her body and heart with amazing grace and strength and love. With Jon always attentive and supporting alongside, Stacy bore the mystery and uncertainty of Drake’s life with courage and faith. Then there were complications – Stacy’s severe preeclampsia required hospital monitoring and care so UCLA Children’s Hospital became home for parents and grandparents for three weeks. If you will indulge me as a parent, Stacy and Jon are amazing – dealing with the deepest of emotional heartaches, and managing care for Stacy and Drake with strength and grace, the Lord was always with them. Their UCLA nurses expressed the powerful impact of their faith through all these days.

After marginal improvement for Drake in the cardiologist’s ultrasound report on January 23rd our hopes were raised but guarded. A clear answer to prayer and first miracle was that Drake and Stacy were stable enough to schedule a delivery for Tuesday, January 31st. Stacy, Jon and Drake were carried by the network of praying friends that grew exponentially through Facebook, Twitter and Emails – friends of friends of friends became part of a community of compassion and prayer linked together by one common life – Drake William.

With great courage Stacy went into delivery facing understandable fears with faith and Jon’s support. Eighteen of us in the waiting room and a host of praying friends waited for the news. After two hours Dr. Lee came out with a big smile – “a beautiful baby boy is born – the delivery went well, Drake cried loudly and Stacy is doing well.” We all rejoiced in praise to God for another miracle.

Jon came into the waiting room elated. Drake William Peterson was born on Tuesday at 2:44 p.m. At birth Drake was quickly surrounded by five doctors, with another five watching over their shoulders – Drake’s life was beyond their expectations. After draining the fluid in Drake’s abdomen they whisked him off to the NICU unit. Jon visited his son and then quickly returned to Stacy’s side, her C-section and blood pressure complications intensified.

We prayed fervently for Drake and for Stacy. “Lord have mercy.”

We called Drake a fighter, a child of strength - his heart condition was beyond treatment – but Drake showed signs of fighting to live from the moment of his birth - his oxygen levels and his heart beat grew stronger each hour. Occasionally his eyes opened. His left hand gripped Jon and Stacy’s fingers. His right hand was always in a fighter’s fist punching against the odds.

Facial features and body were beautifully developed at 33 weeks.

Stacy saw Drake Wednesday morning, her mother’s touch and love seemed to bring increased strength to our fighter. Then others of us who were there got a glimpse of God’s grace in this precious child. He captured our hearts more and more. We rested through the night in cautious peace.

Then, suddenly on Thursday Drake’s body began to fail, as calls for prayer went out, parents and grandparents and friend/brother David went in to surround Drake in prayer, ready to say our goodbyes. But Drake wanted to fight another round. Doctors administered treatment, we prayed – Jon comforted Drake’s forehead. Stacy now was fighting her own battle and had to return to her room for treatment.

The cloud of witnesses leaned over the edge of life and death and prayed.

By the grace and miracle of God Drake rallied, as did Stacy.

He returned to stable condition, breathing got better, acidity was neutralized – we all went to our corners to give thanks to God.

Friday morning the call came early to Jon and Stacy – Drake’s organs were failing, prepare yourself and your family to come to Drake’s side.

We gathered. Jon, Stacy, and grandparents, Linda, Brant, Martie and I – gathered around Drake in a sanctuary formed by curtains, believers and the presence of God. The worship began: “Let the children come to me,” Jesus said, “do not hinder them. For to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” We sang “Jesus Loves Me” – and I had the joy of baptizing Drake William and praying for God’s welcome into the loving arms of Jesus. With thanks for the powerful touch of this precious child reaching around the world, we committed Drake to the grace and peace of God. Jon and Stacy made the courageous decision to let Drake go to God on Friday morning. After all the life support tubes were removed from Drake’s body, Drake fought on for 15 minutes on his own. With amazing strength Drake clung to life as long as he could. This miracle child with three brief days in earth’s light now lives in the eternal light of heaven. It was Friday, but we knew in faith that Sunday’s resurrection was coming!

Drake was not only a fighter, he was a giver- he gave us a glimpse of God's grace in the miracle of birth. He taught us how precious the days of life are for every child. And he gave us the amazing gift of a loving community around a vulnerable child. He gave us the reminder of the dignity and preciousness of every child, everywhere. Drake was a strong fighter, and a strong giver.

From the waters of his mother's womb to the waters of baptism in the hour before his passing, Drake was sustained by the love of Jesus. Held by his parents’ loving arms until his last breath, he is now in the loving arms of his Savior. We see Drake now as born for eternity, more than born for this earth. This is a statement of faith and hope in the midst of our tears and grief - it is the source of peace in the midst of this great loss. How could we face this pain without the amazing grace and love of God? God is good, all the time - we will trust God in our grief. God’s love will become our love for the vulnerable children of this world in memory of Drake William Peterson.

Jon and I also had words to share about Drake. I wanted to be able to speak these words, but I was still quite physically weak, not to mention an emotional wreck. My family was insistent that it was not a smart idea to get up and talk, so I agreed to let Jon do the talking (even though he was an emotional wreck too, physically he was fine). Through the pouring of genuine tears, Jon shared for both of us:

Stacy's text:

I could talk for hours about all the things I learned along Drake’s journey. However, the main theme that has resonated with me during this season has been trusting in the Lord. From the day we found out we were pregnant, which was actually quite a surprise, to the day we found out Drake had heart complications, to the final moments we spent with Drake saying Good-Bye. The ONLY thing I have been able to cling to that has brought me any sort of comfort has been trusting in the Lord. Trust that even though this experience has made absolutely no sense, and been utterly painful, that God does have a plan for each of us and that Drake is truly in a better place. I CAN trust, because I’ve experienced God’s faithfulness throughout my life, and I know it is true. In fact, throughout these past weeks, I’ve already seen God’s plan and protection unfold. One example, I was able to be physically strong and stable enough to be with Drake as he passed away, holding him until the final moment. If his death had come any sooner than it did, I would have still been limited to bed rest from experiencing complications after the C-Section.

There are no words to adequately describe all the emotions and thoughts that I have been flooded with over the past week. I have felt the ultimate highs of life and the ultimate lows, in a very short period of time. There are also no words to describe the way it feels to experience a Mother’s love. It is just as powerful and raw as every Mother I’ve known has described it to be. I’m so grateful to have experienced this love for Drake, and I know nothing will ever make it go away. The separation from him is excruciatingly painful and I constantly wish he was here in my arms. Knowing that I believe in a God, who loves me more than the love I feel for this little boy has given me a profound new perspective on God’s love. It is a love so big, that I simply can’t understand how God tolerates the joy and pain of what it means to love so big. Drake will forever be in my heart and has changed me profoundly. I’m a better person for getting to be his Mom, and I will never let him go.

Jon's text:

When I first saw Drake I was instantly moved to tears, I had tried to connect with him before he was born but even when he kicked me from inside the womb as I was talking to him, I could not imagine the joy of seeing him cry for the first time. It then became my sole purpose in life to do all I could for him while he was with us. All that time he kept fighting and fighting to prove the Doctors wrong about his heart.

Losing him on Friday was the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life; I have never felt my heart physically ache as it did while I held him in the final moments of his life.

But Stacy and I know that his story did not end in the NICU. Earlier that week when we settled on Tuesday the 31st for his delivery I decided to start reading the Proverbs of the day fro my devotions, I went to Proverbs 31 for the date he would be born, it started

O my son, O son of my womb, O son of my vows.

That seemed appropriate enough, and then I read verses 8-9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, Speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

I hoped that maybe Drake would live a long life serving the poor and caring for the helpless. But after seeing the response he has created on social media and e-mail and around the world, I think he is doing that in his death.

Stacy and I have peace knowing that Drake was given all the best opportunities to live with the best Doctors and Facilities available, but God had a plan bigger than we can hope for. I don’t believe that it is just coincidence that on Friday Covenant Kids Congo was officially started, I feel like Drake’s life may have been an encouragement to us all to help the poor and helpless in his memory.

Thank you all again for the love and support you have shown Stacy and me over the past several days and weeks.

The song, Glory Baby, by Watermark, was preformed (again, beautifully) by a few of the members of the worship team from our church along with Jeffrey. Lyrics to this song are on previous blog post. If you haven't ever heard it, download it. It is amazingly perfect to express how we feel.

Thank you to everyone who attended Drake's service. It was a full house and it was wonderful to share his life with others. Also thanks to all those who have sent cards, flowers, and other gifts. Drake's life touched many, and we feel so blessed to be the chosen parents for this special little boy. Love him forever.

If you would like to make a donation in honor of Drake, please consider supporting one of the following organizations that help children in need:


Melissa said...

Dear friends, you have inspired us, challenged us, and are the cause for many of our tears and prayers. Great is our love for you, as well as the love we will always have for your little boy. We are grateful that you have shared your journey, and Drake's, so candidly with us, especially as we are far away. All our love to you from and always.

Angie said...

This post is really beautiful. I'm so sorry you had to go through this, and so touched by your remarkable faith. You've all been in my prayers constantly. I've often thought about your parents, and Beverly, and about grandparents and great-grandparents who are angels around you. How wonderful to be part of a great family. I love you both and pray that the Lord will stay with you, and that you'll feel your little boys love coming to you from heaven.

Jim Halvorsen said...

It was a blessing for us to be present in this service with all of you. We entered deeply into your grief, shared many tears, and were lifted by the reminder that the grief was not 'grief without hope'. We loved and were comforted by the words, 'this is what we believe'.
Thank you for inviting us in to share in this intimate chapter in your life and the life of little Drake. We are challenged by your words to fight as he did for life itself, especially the lives of the poor and downtrodden children of the world.
We send our love and keep you in our prayers. Judy and Jim

Hannah said...

What a beautiful service. An amazing way to celebrate such a beautiful little life and also share about God's love. That is the only good that matters -how God can use your son for His glory.

My heart aches for you as you live the new normal. One day at a time. One breath at a time. One prayer at at time.

Loved seeing a few photos of Drake.

diana said...

I cannot even begin to put into words how moved and grateful I am to read these beautiful words. We were so sorry to miss this celebration and time of remembrance (dental work, long scheduled that afternoon) so feel blessed to visit vicariously through this lovely collection of words and pictures. You both continue in our thoughts and prayers as you walk through this painful time. May you continue to be blessed and strengthened by the prayers of others and by whispers from the God who loves you - and who dearly loves that sweet, precious boy of yours. Peace to his memory - and to each of you.

Diane Q said...

Stacy and Jon, Thank you for allowing us to share in your journey. God has already produced great fruit from Drake's brief life. You and your parents will remain in my prayers. May you continue to grieve in healthy ways as your faith grows even deeper in Him.
Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, ...

Liz VerHage said...

Oh my friends, I've been praying for your family all the time these past few weeks... what a beautiful, meaningful, thoughtful ceremony you recorded here. I can't begin to express how much I ache for the pain and loss you're living through right now, or how grateful I am for the powerful little life of Drake and how he was celebrated, or how proud I am of you and your ability to walk through through this experience honestly, humbly, with faith, and with thanks. I am still praying for you guys, still grieving with you as a mother and a friend, and still celebrating Drake's life with you... Just know there are many holding you up and thanking our Father for Drake, and for you as a mom, and a dad. So much love to you both! Warmly - Liz

Emily Joy said...

Thank you for sharing about Drake's beautiful service. Your words touched me and undoubtedly countless others. I am one of those friends of friends (Karen Dasso, and the SB/Ocean Hills/Westmont community) who has been praying for you, and will continue to. What an amazing and powerful life your son had on earth. Your pain of living without him here on earth will intensify your joy when you join him in eternity some day. Until then, I pray for strength and hope for you both.

Mama Blogger said...

Thank you for sharing this. We really have no words to tell you how painful and special it is to read. We are amazed at your faith and challenged by your humility. We haven't seen you guys for a couple years, but you have to know that you and precious Drake are as close as you can be in our hearts.
With love reaching from far off,
Wendy and John

Ann-Marie said...

Thank you for sharing the details of Drake's service with us. You are an inspiration, and we will continue to hold you in prayer as you begin this new journey of healing. Peace be to the memory of your precious Drake William.

The Christ's said...

What a beautiful service, we wish we could have been there during this difficult time for you. I'm so glad you were able to recap the service, it sounds like such a perfect way to celebrate Drake's life and have time to grieve with family and friends. Drake has made such a huge impact all over, his story and yours and Jon's strength is a reminder to us all what an amazing God we have and while we are so sorry for your loss I am so grateful that Drake has touched so many people. We will continue to pray for you and your family during this tough time, we love you both!