February 13, 2019
My Dearest Owen,
I know that this letter is far overdue. I don’t know how many times I have begun to write, but cannot muster the strength to do so. It has been just over six months since you went Home. That time has been full of overwhelming heartache, intense grief and moments of utter disbelief. In the same breath, we have experienced immense gratitude, abundant healing and inexplicable peace. As I look back on the preceding months, one of those emotions far outweighs any others, and that is gratitude.
We are so thankful for your life. Your life facilitated growth and understanding beyond measure. Not only in my life and your mother’s, but in our extended family, church family, friends and beyond. We are honored to have been chosen to be your parents and steward your life as well as we possibly could, while you were here on earth. The Lord chose us to be your parents. He entrusted us with your life while you were here and we are so grateful for you.
We are grateful to our friends and family who have surrounded us and loved us throughout this entire journey. The moment that we found out about your diagnoses, we picked up the phone, sent out one text and were swarmed with loved ones wanting to do everything in their power to help. This trend simply continued throughout your earthly life and beyond. Your mother, your brother and I were (and still are) overwhelmed with love and support from people who love us (and you) well.
We are grateful to be part of a church that surrounds its body, comes alongside us and fights with us, praying, petitioning, pleading and fasting for you.
Your memorial service was greatly attended. People, who again, love you and us so well, came in from all over the country. Our concern was that our church would not be able to host the amount of people that attended your memorial service. We did, however, make the necessary arrangements to accommodate the crowd. We wanted it to be a worship service, and IT WAS. Your mother and I viewed it as a platform to point our loved ones, who may not know our Lord, toward Christ. “So Will I” by Hillsong, “Though You Slay Me” by Shane and Shane, and Great Are You Lord, were a few of the songs played masterfully by our friend Daniel Crawford (who lost his son at 15 days to Trisomy 18). Raw and heartfelt worship, crying out to the Lord…that’s all we knew how to do.
The past few months have been difficult, my son. Losing you has been the hardest thing that we have ever encountered. Not a day goes by that we do not miss our Owen Gregory. We are, however, so grateful for you. We are truly honored to have been, and always will be, your parents.
August 9, 2018
Today is the day that you got your miracle. Although it was not the miracle that we were petitioning for, you, indeed, got your miracle. You are currently experiencing Glory that we, your parents, can only imagine. You are in the arms of Jesus, dancing and singing. I am so grateful for your miracle. Selfishly though, we are destroyed.
As we walked into our normally scheduled appointment, we were feeling confident. You had moved just moments before, seeming to tell us, “Good morning, Mom and Dad.” In reality, you were saying “Goodbye, Mom and Dad. I am going to be with Jesus now. I will see you when you get here!”
As the tense moments pass, we look on at the sonographer’s screen, waiting to see your heart beat. That beat never came. We caved. The weight of the world came crashing down on our shoulders, and nothing else in the world mattered. I held your mother closely as I continued to stare at the screen in disbelief, shock and horror. Your mother, buried her face in my stomach, weeping. How could this happen? How could the Lord give us victories in your growth and development, and then decide to take you from us? What do we do now? Our little boy is gone.
We were moved into a conference room, where we met with one of your doctors. The option was ours, whether to wait to deliver your body in a few days, or go ahead and begin the process. The decision was made to go home, gather our things, get a bit of rest and then be admitted to the hospital to begin the delivery process.
The car ride home was very quiet, with the exception of a frequent interjection of sobbing from both your mother and myself. We gathered our things, and prepared ourselves for what would be the longest, and most surreal 3 days of our lives.
As we checked in, we were greeted by the nursing staff. Very quietly and somberly, we were escorted to the room, in the back corner of the labor and delivery floor at UT Southwestern. The staff was courteous and considerate, and allocated a section of their floor for us, as to not surround us with newborn babies.
For the next 40 hours, your mother labored for you. She wanted to feel the pain of childbirth. For you. She wanted to be aware of her surroundings. For you. She wanted to experience; You. The same spirit of fight that was in you, was given to you, by your mother. She too, is a fighter. Not in the confrontational sense, but in the sense of determination and persistence. She is making her last physical stand, for you.
As I relentlessly ponder my question from earlier regarding the Lord giving us victory in your development, but taking you away now, I realize something. The Lord gave us those victories to let us know that He hears, that He cares and that He already had you in the palm of His hand, even upon conception.
“This morning, the many prayers for Owen’s healing were answered. Not in the form that we would have hoped, but Owen is healthy and whole, in the arms of Jesus.”
As dear friends and family surround us in this time, we know, 100% without a doubt, where you are. I received a text today that painted the most beautiful picture. It was from a friend who had lost his son at 15 days. The text read, “Brother…there are no perfect words. Know that we love you, that we are weeping with you, and that we are here for you. I have a feeling that Abel got to embrace Owen today, and it humbles me to think about our boys being fully in the presence of our King. Praising God for the life of Owen Cooper today.” The image of Jesus, welcoming you into His kingdom, along with so many others that love you dearly, is truly amazing and gives us immense comfort. Lord, haste the day that my faith shall be my sight. Lord, haste the day that I may lay eyes on your face. Lord, haste the day that I may lay eyes on my Owen Gregory Cooper.
August 6, 2018
My Dearest Owen,
The doctors say that we don’t have much more time with you. Your amniotic fluid is dissipating, meaning that your kidney function is not as it should be. Your heart is working hard to keep up, but seems to be slowing as well. Your mother and I continue to fight, but there is only so much that we can physically do. I thank the Lord for every day that we have with you. Your mother’s blood pressure is continuing to steadily increase and her liver and kidney enzymes are elevated.
Yesterday at church, we celebrated all of the things that the Lord has done in your life. We will not see all of the ripples that your impact on people has had, but we know that they are there. In an effort to be offensive instead of defensive, we posted a video on social media, inviting complete strangers to share their struggles and defeat, in order to be prayed over. During service yesterday, your mother and I shared an update on you, but more than that, we wanted to facilitate a time where others could be prayed over as well. Your life, and the Lord’s work in your life, inspired this. You inspired us to reach out and open our eyes to those around us who are too, hurting. People who are facing trials and tribulations, who may not have Jesus in their lives. I have said since finding out that you were sick, I do not know how people endure this level of agony without Jesus. It would be easy to turn to things of this world in a time like this, but our focus and comfort comes through Jesus. If in fact, your miracle comes in the form of the Lord taking you home, you will meet Jesus before I. However, we continue to petition and plead with the Lord for your life here on earth. We will not stop petitioning until you are here on earth, or the Lord has taken you home to be with Him.
Last night, as I was putting your brother to bed, we spoke about his brother. We speak of you often. Every night we sing “Edelweiss,” a song that your grandfather sang to your mother every night before bed. I have amended some one of the lyrics and instead of “bless our homeland forever” we sing “bless our family forever.” You, Owen, are a blessing. A blessing to your mother, your brother and I, but also a blessing to hundreds more. Your life has singlehandedly made a Kingdom impact on countless souls. You have taught me that prayer is a mighty tool, to pray boldly and expectantly of the Lord. We are expectant of a miracle here on earth, but even if that earthly miracle does not come to fruition, we will bow down before no other god. All glory, honor and praise to Jehovah Rapha (The Lord that Heals).
July 31, 2018
My Dearest Owen,
I have a story to tell you. A story that is your own, that you may, or may not know:
The anticipation of every doctor’s appointment increases as we press further and further along, closer to viability outside of your mother’s womb. Over the weekend, your mother was not feeling well. Her blood pressure skyrocketed and she is now retaining fluid, just like you. She woke up on Sunday morning, feeling tired, and more than that, she was worried about her little boy. Her legs swollen like tightly packed sausages. We struggled through the day as if we just knew something had gone terribly wrong. Your brother was quite the handful, and we were at our wit’s end. We tossed and turned throughout the night, not sleeping as we should have. First thing on Monday morning, I called one of our specialists to be seen that day. We feared the worst. As I was praying that morning, I had a vision of your mother and I walking into the sonogram room. I saw the room, the sonographer and the screen. The feeling associated with this vision was that of sadness, defeat and utter broken-heartedness. I began to pray, pray and pray harder. At the same time, Pastor Jonny texted me, telling me that he felt a heaviness amongst our situation and he began to pray. I continuously prayed until walked into the same room that I saw in the vision that the Lord had given me, with the same sonographer that was seen as well. I prepared for impacted; preparing my heart for the news that you were no longer with us. How were we going to get through this? Why would the Lord provide up to this point and then decide to take you away now? My mind began to race. I sat down, staring at the television screen where the images of your body would be (just as I had done in the vision), but to my surprise, I saw your heat beating so strongly, just the same as it had always been! I was overcome with relief and began to thank the Lord for yet another day with you. However, I was confused, wondering how a vision that seemed to be from the Lord, could have been so wrong? I was reminded that sometimes the Lord will give us a word of looming foresight, but gives his saints (believers) a chance to pray, petition and plead to change the outcome. This is the power of prayer that is only now fully revealing itself to me. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 38, King Hezekiah was told by Isaiah to prepare his affairs, that the king would be dying soon. King Hezekiah cried out to the Lord, pleading with the Lord for more time. The Lord then told Isaiah that He had heard King Hezekiah’s prayer, and granted the king fifteen more years of life. Just as King Hezekiah pleaded with the Lord, so I plead with the Lord for your life, Owen.
You are already an inspiration to those who know you Owen. You are fighter, a little warrior and I am so proud of you. A father’s pride in his son is a beautiful thing to know and watch unfold. You, my son, make me proud. Keep fighting and I will keep pleading the cries of my heart to the Lord. You are truly a miracle, son. A miracle that has already, and will continue to bring people closer to the Lord. I am so proud.
July 26, 2018
This morning, your mother and I met with the third, and most elite specialist team in the area. All of the doctors continue to mesmerized that you are still with us. Along with new teams of doctors comes an opportunity to share our hope in Christ with them. You have impacted so many lives already. A prayer was said for you the other night that stuck with me. Cyndi Vela prayed that the Lord would prepare the hearts of the doctors for what they are about to experience in treating you and your mother. She prayed that opportunities would arise where the Lord’s glory be shown to those who may not know Him. With every little bit of bad news, comes an opportunity for us to share our hope in Christ, step back, and view exactly what it is that He is doing here. He is using you, and us, as a platform to share the hope that we have in Him. In the book of Daniel, chapter 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when confronted by King Nebuchadnezzar to bow down before him, were thrown into a fiery furnace. They believed that the Lord would deliver them from the flame, which He did! They said, “but even if He does not deliver us, we will still only serve Him.” Your mother and I have never doubted that the Lord can and will provide a miracle for you, but even if he doesn’t we will still give Him the glory. We don’t know exactly how and why He chose you to be sick, but we will continue to seek His face and give Him the glory, at every opportunity.
We have finally found a probable cause of the Hydrops. You have a condition called “Noonan Syndrom” which affects your heart, lymphatic system and kidneys. This does not change our course of action, but simply gives us some insight and answers the question of what is causing the fluid accumulation. Your mother is entering the early stages of “Mirror Syndrom.” She loves you so much that her body is trying to take away any pain and discomfort from your body, and put it on her own. This is tough for your mom, but she would do anything in the world to take your place, if she could. We both would.
Your big brother knows you. He knows where you are (in Momma’s tummy), he knows your name and gives you kisses every night before bed. If asked, where is Owen, he will immediately run over to Momma and point at you and give you kisses. He loves you dearly, as we all do. Continue to fight buddy. We love you desperately.
It feels like we didn’t get much good news from the doctors today, but you are still with us and as long as the Lord gives you to us, we will fight with and for you and continue to be your voice. We love you son. So deeply. And to think that our Heavenly Father is cradling you in His palm, gives us peace. Thousands of people are praying for you, our family, and for Owen’s miracle.
July 11, 2018
My Dearest Owen,
This morning I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to go run, pray and plead with the Lord for your healing. I was running on the bridge across the lake and it was still dark outside. The sun was barely beginning to make its appearance. As I ran, I was listening to worship music, pleading, crying and physically shouting out to the Lord. I’m sure that some other people on the bridge thought that I was insane! With tears in my eyes and hands lifted high, I shouted out to the Lord, “Lord, please heal my boy!!” I repeated this over and over, aloud. We continue to plead and fight for you, buddy. Our God is in control and we rely solely on Him. Micah 6:1 says, “Listen to what the Lord says; Stand up, plead your case before the mountains. Let the hills hear what you have to say.” So that’s exactly what I did, and what I will continue to do.
This afternoon, we met again with your doctors. Your heart is so strong. You are a fighter. With every appointment, brings great anxiety, but the weight of the world is lifted when we hear your little heart. We continue to fight for you and with you. You have thousands of people praying, fasting and petitioning the Lord for you. You are so loved and have already done so much to make people rely solely on the Lord, especially your mom, dad and extended family. We love you, son.
Tonight, several of us gathered at the church. Your mother and I were surrounded by close friends and family who joined alongside us, laid hands on us and on you. For hours we cried out to the Lord. “Not this one Lord! Do not take this one!” Your name Owen means “young warrior,” a fact that we are just now coming to realize. Our prayer for you is that you be a warrior for Christ. You have already impacted hundreds of people and turned them to Christ. You truly are a warrior for Him. Your mother and I sat and cried until we could not physically cry anymore. Pleading and begging the Lord for your healing.
The realization that God is a far better father than I could every dream of being struck me hard tonight. I placed my hand on you and cried out to the Lord, dedicating your body to Him. You are truly in our Father’s care. The Bible references God as “The Great Physician” several times. He is far more powerful, knowledgeable and loves you more than any human on this planet. He knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are not a mistake on His behalf. God does not make mistakes.
Miraculous healing is what we are praying for. Miraculous intercession on our behalf. We put our trust and faith not in the medicine, but only the Great Physician who is the author of all life.
June 22, 2018
Crushing. In one word, your mother and I are crushed. Our little boy, Owen Gregory Cooper, is very sick. You are sick, little buddy. You are 17 weeks old today and after, what your mother and I thought would be a very routine sonogram and meeting with our doctor, we try to wipe the tears streaming down our faces, take a deep breath, but we, just, can’t.
We saw you, really for the first time since you were the size of a lima bean; your mother, your brother and I looked on as the sonographer scanned your little body. She took measurements, read heart rates, showed us your little head, your hands and your feet. She mentioned to us that, there was fluid build up around your head but that Dr. Gillian would talk to us more about it. Tense moments passed as we transitioned from one room to another. After immediate prayer, and several more tense minutes pass, the doctor came into the room with tears in her eyes. She simply says, “I’m sorry. Your little boy has large amounts of water on his body.” Your mother, your brother and I stood in silence. The first of thousands of tears begin to stream down our faces. “The Lord is control and sometimes we just don’t understand it” Dr. Gillian tells your mother. “Your little boy is very sick. I have made a call to a specialist and he will see you right away.” Shock and fear overcame us. We scramble to regain composure, put ourselves together and get out of the doctor’s office. As we stood in the parking lot, a text from your mother went out to several close friends that read, “Emergency! Can one of you take Easton?” Immediately we were met with resounding yeses. With Easton taken care of, your mother and I met with the specialist over the next several hours discussing your condition. “Fetal Hydrops” is a condition in which water accumulates around your body, putting extensive pressure on your heart, lungs and brain, and interfering with the rate at which your little body develops. There are thousands of causes and narrowing it down can be very difficult. The cause could be genetic, it could be skeletal or even viral. A million questions filled our heads. Why Lord? How? Why did you pick our little boy to endure this? Our family? Why God?
The next hours, days and weeks, we lived in a fog. Our world had been shaken to its core. We (along with hundreds of family and friends) have spent a majority of our time praying, pleading with God. Begging Him for a miracle. A miracle of healing, for you. We know that He is able, but my question still remains; will He? If granting my plea relied on my merit, He surely will not perform this miracle and give my little boy healing. Luckily, I am constantly reminded that nothing I do, or have done qualifies or quantifies me to gain my salvation or deliverance. Your mother, your brother and I have been surrounded by friends and family who love us and you, very much. They have joined with us in prayer, pleading and begging for your life.
Some thoughts are too much to bare. Will I ever get to hold you? Will I ever get to take you to catch your first fish? Will your favorite words be “deer” like your brother’s is? There are so many memories to make together as a family. Memories that may not come to fruition. We wrestle with the alarming statistics that there is only a 5% chance that you will join us on this earth, but the fact of the matter is that GOD IS BIGGER THAN A STATISTIC. We love you more than we ever though possible, little buddy. You are bathed in earnest prayer. We are petitioning our Lord for you.
March 26, 2018
My Dearest Child,
Today, while visiting your great grandfather Bahrenburg in the hospital, your mother showed me a picture. It was of your older brother. He sat in his rocking chair holding a sign. A sign that read “Big Brother.” It took me a few seconds to process exactly what that meant. It meant that, very unexpectedly, you had found yourself a cozy nest to burrow and grow in, until it was time to make your debut into this world! We were so shocked, elated and so very thankful! I pushed your brother around in his stroller, outside of the hospital windows, and discussed with him the newfound discovery that is growing inside of Momma’s tummy. I was smiling and laughing because of the news. Your brother was smiling and laughing, well, because that’s all he does. A million thoughts ran through my head…the greatest of which was thankfulness. Aside from that, I was having a verbal conversation with your brother (who is only 15 months old and has no idea what I am saying), about what exactly your entry into this world will bring. It will bring him a best friend. Someone to grow up with and share life together with. It will bring your mother and I another blessing, but also it will bring us more responsibility. The responsibility to raise you in the way that the Lord would have us to, since He has entrusted you to us. It will bring our family pure JOY. Your brother and I walked the sidewalks on this beautiful spring day, working up a game plan, in preparation for your coming.
You were a surprise. Your mother and I had a hard time conceiving your brother. We spent years and years praying, meeting with doctors, saving money for additional infertility procedures, but mostly praying and waiting on the Lord. After years of submitting our requests to the Lord, He blessed us with your older brother. Only 14 short months after his arrival, we are enthralled by the news that, in just a few short months, you will join the three of us, and make our family of three, a family of four.
We were so shocked and ecstatic that we immediately took your Grandma to lunch. We told her the news. Your mother cried. Your Grandma cried even harder. After lunch, we went to your Pops’ and DeeDee’s house. I showed them the picture of your brother and the sign that he carried from that morning. Your Pops responded, “Yea, he is a big bother!” totally disregarding the very important “r.” I corrected him and said, “No, Dad, look closer.” After further investigation, your Pops laughed. Your DeeDee cried. We are all so excited and expectant of your coming to join our family. We are so thankful for you, every day.