“Until we meet again”: Zachary Lee’s eulogy for his son, little Emme
Zachary Lee // January 23, 2020, 1:40 pm
All photos courtesy of Zachary Lee
In 2019, Zachary Lee, 30, and Elsa Lee, 29, received the devastating news that their son Emme (Emmanuel Lee Rong) was found to have an extremely rare condition called acrania, where part of his skull is not fully formed.
Despite being told that Emme could not live outside the womb, they believed that every life is a perfect gift from their perfect God – even a seemingly “imperfect” baby. The couple made the decision not to terminate the pregnancy and carry Emme to term until the Lord called him home.
Emme was born on January 15, 2020 and he passed away peacefully 18 hours later. A memorial service was held for the couple’s firstborn on January 19. The following reflection was first published on Zachary’s Facebook page and has been republished with permission.
Where do we even begin? It’s hard to say something about someone you’ve spent so little time with, yet it seems like forever since we’ve known and fallen in love with our son. So I’m going to attempt to do justice to the huge impact that Emme’s life gave us.
We first found out about Emme’s fatal prenatal diagnosis at our 12th week scan. Within moments from receiving this news, we were offered the option of terminating the pregnancy.
In many ways it was an easy decision to make, admittedly not because we were brave or that we had strong parental instincts to protect him. It really boiled down to just one thing: no matter the circumstance or consequences, the command to obey God will always stand.
And so begun the turbulent journey of living out our decision.
I think we both accepted early on that not every chapter will find a happy ending on this side of creation, even if we choose to obey God. But that did not mean that we happily accepted or was readily at peace with God’s decision to slap us in the face.
So God first taught us to lament. We learnt that it was okay to not be okay with Emme’s diagnosis. We learnt that it was okay to be frustrated, to be angry. But here is the key – the most comforting part of lamenting – that at the end of the day, we recognise that God is God and we’re not.
God is never wrong. He is always faithful, and as Emme’s creator, He fully knows and perfectly loves Emme way more than we ever can. It might seem like we were robbed of our experience of being parents, but God is good and gracious.
As Emme’s father, I had the privilege to fulfil my most important role. I got to teach him about Jesus! I spent many nights reading the entire Beginner’s Bible and a book called Goodbye to Goodbyes when Emme was still in Elsa.
I experienced feeling so proud of my son as I held him in my arms and brought him to see Elsa. I made him smile, felt his little fingers grip mine (just like his Papa, he had really good grip strength 😉) and learnt how to soothe him when he’s upset.
As Emme’s mother, Elsa took on her role beautifully. She protected his life right from the start, and she neither once wavered nor gave up.
If you had the opportunity to spend time with Elsa, it wouldn’t take you long to know her nurturing and caring nature. With Emme, this was magnified by a million times. She encouraged, comforted and loved him right till the end as he passed away peacefully in her arms.
Elsa, on behalf of Emme and I, we just want to say we’re so incredibly proud of you for the way you’ve carried yourself through this very trying time. Thank you for being a great example by displaying Christ’s love to us.
Thank you for reminding me that God knows what’s best for us even though you had every reason to doubt Him. As I watched you power through each challenge that came, I’m honoured that God chose me to lead and to love you.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women have done excellently but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:28-30 ESV)
It now blows my mind that I’m married to a Proverbs 31 wife, and that Emme had the privilege to be loved by a Proverbs 31 mother. We love you so much Mama!
Throughout Emme’s entire life, he was blessed to be surrounded by many people who loved and cared for him. Not once was he left alone – his 18 hours was filled with so much love, cuddles and kisses. And from the bottom of our hearts, we have so many of you to thank for that.
Because we lost Emme, we lost so much, but because we had Emme, we gained so much more.
And because of Jesus, we can fix our eyes and dig our feet into the promise of a completed story, one that has been redeemed and won through God’s gift in Christ.
Because of Jesus, we can find strength, comfort and hope in a God who knows the pain of death and separation.
Because of Jesus, we can look forward to that glorious day of restoration and reunion as all three of us worship Jesus at his feet.
To end, we would love to share the meaning behind his name. Emmanuel means “God with us”. We chose this name as a testament to God’s unchanging goodness and faithfulness throughout this season of our lives.
To Emme: Thank you for fighting so hard to stick around for a little longer, thank you for allowing us to love and care for you, thank you for showing us what it means to use your life to glorify God, and thank you for leaving us with a powerful reminder of the Cross.
We loved you when we found out we were having you, we loved you when we found out you were fearfully and wonderfully made different, we loved you as you took your last breath, and we will always love you for as long as we both live.
Papa and Mama will keep praising Jesus together with you doing the same in heaven. Until we meet again, you’re forever our beloved firstborn child. ❤️