Saturday, January 25, 2014

Anneliese Audrey Goates

Thursday morning brought to a close a bittersweet chapter in the lives of our son Jake and wife Heidi, along with their young daughter Jillian. I made reference several weeks ago to their challenges in a previous blog post entitled, "When Sore Trials Come Upon You".

Heidi was pregnant with their second child and they went for a routine ultrasound to determine the sex of the baby. Instead, as part of the ultrasound exam they had received a chilling diagnosis about their daughter intrauterine - she would be an anencephaly baby. They were thrown into a vortex of uncertainty, sorrow, anger and instant grieving, even though the baby hadn't been born yet. Her birth would also mean a simultaneous funeral if she made it full-term.

Patiently, riding a roller coaster of emotions that took them into spiritual heights and plunged them into the darkest abyss, they waded through the ensuing weeks never knowing what the final outcome might look like.

On Thursday morning we received a text message that Heidi's waters had broken and they were on the way to the hospital nine weeks ahead of her due date. At Jake's request, we all dropped to our knees as a family that morning, knowing the outcome of this impending early delivery would bring additional complications, but petitioning Heavenly Father they might have the privilege of holding a live infant long enough for her to be given a name and a father's blessing by Jake.

As we drove the hour to Salt Lake, little Anneliese made her unscheduled appearance. Jake's text said simply, "She's here." She was alive and struggling for life, but ALIVE! I texted back, "MIRACLE!" It was a miracle we had humbly sought together as a united family on their behalf. "She's a little fighter," Jake texted. "She's trying to wait long enough for you to get here so she can meet you." Forty-five minutes later, now tied up in rush hour traffic along Foothill Blvd. in Salt Lake, we received another text, "She's gone."

We had "lived" her life with her vicariously in the car en route to the hospital through our tears, but Jake and Heidi had the exhilaration of holding her for those precious 45 minutes. We arrived shortly after she had expired. Anneliese is our 44th grandchild. She was a beautiful little doll, perfectly formed, still soft and pink with a petite little doll face resembling her sister and Mother. She weighed only 2.2 pounds and was 13 inches long.

In the delivery room as I held her lifeless little body and gazed upon her face, I felt I had always known her as the adult spirit she is. She came momentarily to earth to join their eternal family, and stayed only long enough to claim her mortal body then return home again. In the spirit world someday we will meet again, and in the resurrection her little body will come forth as it will go into the grave on Monday after her funeral. Heidi will hold her once again in her arms and have the blessing of seeing her physical body grow and blossom into its "proper and perfect frame". (See Alma 40:23).

Their hospital room that morning was full of light, hope and gratitude. What could obviously seem like a tragedy to some was experienced as awareness of the great plan of happiness. Some things we know as an intellectual verity. Other things we know because we have lived through them and embraced them for the gift of spiritual knowledge that transcends merely an intellectual possibility. And now they KNEW.

Jake sent out an e-mail this morning describing their experience in part:

Dear Family and Friends,

Our little angel's early arrival on Thursday has been a very sweet experience and a heaven-sent life we were fortunate enough to experience and welcome into our family. While gearing up for her arrival and departure we initially thought we wanted to keep this a very intimate occasion with only a graveside service and family lunch, but after meeting our little Anneliese, we feel we should celebrate the great blessing it has been for her to receive a physical body as part of our Heavenly Father's eternal plan of happiness.

We realize this is short notice, so please don't feel obligated, but we would like to invite each of you, and any others who may not be on this email who you feel should know, to attend her little celebration at our chapel at 10am on Monday January 27th. Heidi and I would like to share our experience of bringing this sweet spirit into the world. It would not have been possible without all of your support along the way and we'd be very ungrateful to not express our appreciation for your love. We are so grateful for the prayers, thoughts, emails, texts, cards, and letters as we've sought to grow our family over the years, especially during this pregnancy.

We love you all and consider ourselves blessed to have you in our lives. If you didn't see our posts on social media, we'd also like to share with you our blog, where Heidi began to share this journey, and will continue to do so.

We are comforted to know Anneliese is waiting on the other side of the veil for us to reunite with her again some day. We're so grateful for Jesus Christ and his victory over death that we might all live again beyond the grave, and for the restoration of his gospel and priesthood on the earth that seals families together forever. It is comforting to know we have been given the opportunity to hold her in our arms again some day, and we pray we might be better people each day of our lives until the great day of resurrection comes.

All our love,

Jake, Heidi, Jillian and Anneliese Goates

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