sky gabriel’s story | part 1

by lani

sky gabriel was born still on december 14, 2011, 2 days before his due date. this is his story, or, more accurately, our story of his life and death. i’m sharing this story because it is so very important to me that sky be remembered, that his life be integrated into the story of our community. i hope hearing his story is as encouraging and healing for you as sharing it is for me.

i’ve been married to sky’s awesome daddy since 2004. we caught baby fever after an unplanned pregnancy and very early miscarriage in 2005, and patiently (oh who’re we kidding – impatiently) waited to try to conceive again until early 2011. my positive pregnancy test showed up one month early – we planned to start trying to conceive in april, and got pregnant in march, with a due date right in the middle of joel’s finals from nursing school. oops.

when i was about 10 weeks along, little baby-in-utero was informally christened “zesty,” in a conversation that went kinda like this:
[family friend]: m, did you know that lani has a little baby in her tummy? do you think it will be a girl or a boy?
m (4yo): a boy!
joel: and what should we name the boy?
m: … zesty!

so from then on he was zesty. to the point that his baby shower was citrus themed.

it’s so comforting to think of all the happy experiences of his life in utero. he was surrounded by music and laughter every day; he never heard his parents yell or snap at each other; he must have memorized vivaldi’s gloria – the choir joel and i direct performed it this fall. purring kitties napped on my lap almost every day. my brother had affectionately nicknamed him “spud,” and little zesty-spud-sky had dozens of people fighting for babysitting rights: our housemates, teenagers from the youth theater program that we direct, family (he was the first grandchild), church friends, classmates … he was such a widely and eagerly anticipated baby!

joel had been trying to hear sky’s heartbeat with his stethoscope every few days, and on sunday the 11th he was finally able to catch 8 precious beats. i’ll never forget the surprise and joy on his face; that was the last moment we know for sure that sky was alive.

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