“Because we lost Emme, we lost so much, but because we had Emme, we gained so much more,

“Because we lost Emme, we lost so much, but because we had Emme, we gained so much more," said Zachary and Elsa Lee, who chose to keep their son, Emme, to full term despite being told he would not survive outside the womb. All photos courtesy of Zachary and Elsa Lee.

What do you do when your baby is gone soon after he is born?

Lament to a sovereign God, said Elsa Kwok, whose firstborn passed away from a rare condition called acrania, where part of his skull is not fully formed, just 18 hours after he was delivered on January 15, 2020.

“Lament is the song of sorrow Christians sing when they’re living between the poles of a hard life and trust in God’s sovereign care,” she shared with Salt&Light hours after a moving eulogy posted by her husband Zachary went viral on Facebook.

Crying out to the Almighty reminded them that “God is God and we are not” and that He is still in control in the midst of deep sorrow and pain, she added.

“We miss so many things about our dear Emme. We miss his beautiful face, we miss his smell, his grunt, his cheeks, his smile. We miss him fully.

"We miss so many things about our dear Emme," said mother Elsa.

“We miss so many things about our dear Emme. But while we will hurt and experience intense pain that comes with living in this broken world, it is not without hope.”

“But the beauty that the Gospel offers us is that while we will hurt and experience intense pain that comes with living in this broken world, it is not without hope.

“As Christians we can look forward to that glorious day of restoration, redemption and reunion with sweet Emme, won through the blood of Jesus.”

“A perfect gift from a perfect God”

The Lees first found out about the devastating diagnosis during their 12th week scan. Doctors told them their child would not live outside the womb.

They were offered the option of terminating the pregnancy, but they chose to keep their baby.

"all human life beginning at conception is a life worth living because God in His sovereignty has fearfully and wonderfully made it to be," said Elsa.

An ultrasound image of Baby Emme. “All human life, beginning at conception, is a life worth living because God in His sovereignty has fearfully and wonderfully made it to be.”

In a Facebook post by Elsa last August, she wrote: “We believe strongly that every life is a perfect gift from our perfect God (even our seemingly “imperfect” baby) and so we’ve made the decision to not terminate the pregnancy early and carry him for as long as his heart beats on, till our Lord calls him home.”

“All human life is a life worth living because God has fearfully and wonderfully made it to be.”

In an interview with Salt&Light, Elsa said: “Honestly, if it were up to us to define a life worth living, it would be based on the premise of how that life would affect us, and whether or not that life would be able to thrive according to the world’s standards.

“However, the sole and driving force behind our belief that Emme’s life is worth living is not defined by us but by the Bible, for how can we know best what to do? We are merely creation and need to look to the Creator.”

Quoting Psalm 139:13-16, she added: “All human life, beginning at conception, is a life worth living because God, in His sovereignty, has fearfully and wonderfully made it to be.”

Deep sorrow and great joy

Their decision was made, but grief still “hit us hard”.

After finding out they were expecting on May 2, 2019, the couple had excitedly wondered what their firstborn would be like, who he would resemble, and how their new life together as a family of three would look like.

“Finding out about his diagnosis shattered those dreams to its core,” she said, adding that it forced them to re-examine everything they believed in.

Instead of giving them answers to why this had happened, God taught them how to cry out to Him, trusting that He is still in control.

Nuggets of facts about Emme, drawn by the couple's friend.

The lyrics from the song, As Long As You Are Glorified by Sovereign Grace Music, “really challenged whether we believed that God is the same God through the good and the bad”:

“Shall I take from Your hand Your blessings
Yet not welcome any pain?
Shall I thank You for days of sunshine
Yet grumble in days of rain?
Shall I love You in times of plenty
Then leave You in days of drought?
Shall I trust when I reap a harvest
But when winter winds blow, then doubt?”

In their sorrow, they clung on tightly to God’s Word on His immense and relentless love for them (Romans 8:38) and the hope of a redeemed future (Romans 8:18-23).

“He fully knows and perfectly loves Emme way more than we ever can.”

When Emme passed away, they had expected their grief to be “the absolute hell”.

“But to our surprise, it contained both deep sorrow and great joy.

“Compared to the beginning where we felt so much fear and uncertainty, the last phase allowed us to look back on the entire journey and see God actively working for our good.”

“Because we had Emme, we gained so much more”

In the eulogy posted on Facebook by Zachary, which has since garnered almost 3,000 reactions and more than 700 shares, he wrote: “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.”

“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.

A timeline of Emme's adventures, drawn by the couple's friend.

A timeline of Emme’s adventures, drawn by the couple’s friend.

“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.”

“Because of Jesus, we can look forward to that glorious day of restoration and reunion.”

Bidding a final farewell to his child, he said: “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.”

About the author

Gracia Lee

Gracia is a journalism graduate who thoroughly enjoys people and words. Thankfully, she gets a satisfying dose of both as a writer at Salt&Light. When she's not working, you will probably find her admiring nature or playing Monopoly Deal with her little brother.