Elijah Rainbow was a well-loved little boy. On his last day on Earth, he stayed close to me, hearing my heartbeat for most of the day as he dozed in the sling.

A card in memory of Elijah Rainbow

I woke up in the morning to feed Elijah. He had fed several times in the night, and in his first feed of the day, I felt the sharp pull of new teeth against my nipple. It doesn’t matter how many times it happens — I’m never savvy enough to pick up on our baby’s teething symptoms until the teeth actually emerge.

After he fed, Elijah fell back to sleeping peacefully, and I felt awake and rested enough to get up without him. Often I doze with him for a while, but today I felt invigorated and ready to get some things done.

We were planning on visiting friends at Tallebudgera this weekend, so I needed to sort through items to pack. Elijah’s extra sleep allowed me to get some chores done, and when he let me know he was awake, I was happy to see him again and fed him while sitting in our reclining chair.

After he was sated, I dressed Elijah into new clothes. I had just started pulling out size 0 clothes — he swam in them, but I felt like he was getting too big for the 00 size. I dressed him in a white singlet suit with a snap crotch, a white-and-green striped long-sleeved shirt, olive corduroy pants and crocheted socks the colour of cardboard. I don’t have any red boys’ clothes in size 0, so I thought I would seek to address that by looking through secondhand shops during our travels.

After he was dressed, Elijah played on the carpet with his sisters. I remember Calista holding him in her lap. She loves to croon “Elijah boy” to him and offer him toys for him to mouth. I was able to use this time to have a quick shower, and when I emerged, Elijah was still happy playing with his sisters.

I told his sisters that Elijah’s teeth had come through, and they all took turns putting their fingers in his mouth to feel them. Elijah loved this attention, and — of course — the chance to munch on some fingers. It was very exciting — a baby’s milestone is exaggerated when they’re so loved. I could have pointed out a new hair on his head, and we would have all fussed over him!

When Elijah started fussing from tiredness, I strapped my red sling on and laid Elijah across my back while I fixed the shoulder straps. One thing about our dedication to parenting Elijah the way we have done is that I don’t have regrets about not holding my son enough.
He loves to sit in the sling. He can choose to watch the world go by or doze, and I remember to take him off every now and again and offer him the breast — even if he’s not fussing for it.

We needed some things from town — an eclectic list of items that would take me to several different stores, so I approached Aisha and asked her if she would like to accompany me on a “long walk”. At seven years old, Aisha is a wonderful companion. She is mature enough to visit shops without become enamoured by their wares and will happily accompany me in and out of as many places as we need to go.

I was still wearing Elijah in the sling when we walked into Beenleigh, cutting across the cemetery as we did so. Aisha was interested in some of the graves, and we read the headstones and speculated on the people who were memorialised with metal and stone. I kept noticing children’s graves and commenting to Aisha on the ages of the kids and babies.

We talked about death matter-of-factly. Aisha understands that life is Spirit and Spirit is indestructible — it is only the body that decays. These graves are not for the dead, but for the living — a rallying point for those who are missing someone’s presence. We noticed some quiet mourners standing around graves and together felt compassion for these strangers.

After breezing in and out of several shops, I was approached by one man who noticed Elijah’s head had tipped back. Usually when Elijah sleeps, I pull the hood over his head to keep it close to my back, but this time he had dozed off without me being aware. It is so lovely to have encounters with strangers who demonstrate that they care for your children too, and to be approached by this man who loved Elijah enough to want him to be comfortable is a beautiful example of how, in sharing our love openly with those around us — even strangers — we make the world a better place.
I fed Elijah while we were out. Aisha and I munched on fresh croissants. Elijah was soon distracted by the food going into our mouths, and Aisha pulled off a tiny piece of pastry to put in his mouth. He sucked on it for a while before spitting it out, and I deterred Aisha from giving him any more.

It took us a long while to get back home. Aisha and I took our time in the stores and looked through the baby items in hopes of finding some red things, but there were none unless I also wanted to endorse a cartoon character. It was a lovely day out, and I was able to change Elijah’s nappy before he fell asleep again on my back.

On the way home, we passed through the cemetery again. Aisha and I spoke again about death, and I expressed that although we don’t understand the timing of deaths in our lives, it is always good. Aisha asked if someone in our family died, would that be good? I replied in the affirmative, saying that nothing happens that is not good. This I said to her, believing that death was far from our family, and yet now that it has knocked on our door, I believe no differently.

Conviction and faith are hard to express, and words sound trite until they are backed up with actions. In accepting Elijah’s sad loss to our family, I’m being given the opportunity to live what I believe, to demonstrate that life is Spirit and Spirit is indestructible, and thus — although we will miss Elijah Rainbow’s precious presence — his energy lives on in love, light and goodness that is shared all around the world.

I am glad that for most of Elijah’s last day, he was content to ride on my back in the carrier. You can’t regret the times you hold a child close, and Elijah knew he was loved and cherished by us all.

Thank you for joining us, Elijah Rainbow, if only for a short while. We love you so much and now can appreciate every baby we meet even more, for you have reminded us how precious each child is — a blessing and a joy.

***

David took Elijah for a walk in the pram to soothe him. David and Elijah both fell off a red footbridge into the Logan River. Elijah drowned.

I was so blessed to meet Elijah Rainbow. 26.11.11 – 23.06.12. I love you, little one. Go with God.

Emergency services vehicles at Logan River Parklands, June 2012
Emergency services personnel came to the river to search for Elijah's body. He was not found until the following day.