At Josh and Cali's request, we have set this blog up as a place to honor baby Mac and to remember all we have learned from his short time here. We hope as Josh and Cali's hearts begin to heal, they will find this blog a place to share their feelings and memories of little Mac. For now, and as a family, we want to share Mac's story with you from our perspective. We're sure that Josh and Cali's version of this story will have far greater depth and be able to express deeper emotions than this version will have, but for now we hope this will suffice.
Josh and Cali have been married for just over a year and are the cutest couple ever! Soon after they were married they found out they were expecting their first child. It was a bit of a surprise to them, but they were thrilled none the less. Cali quickly set up a blog so that she could keep everyone posted on their baby's development and faithfully updated it each month with information on how he was growing, how big he was, how excited they were, etc. When they found out the baby was a boy, they were ecstatic! Josh was so excited to have a son to teach baseball to (Josh plays baseball at Utah Valley University). Nearly every night of their pregnancy (including the night before he died), they would talk to baby Mac and feel him kicking. They would tell him they loved him and couldn't wait to meet him. For nine months Cali had a very healthy pregnancy and they anxiously awaited his arrival.
On June 26th, just two days prior to Mac's due date, Cali went in for a routine stress test. Sadly Mac's heartbeat could not be found. They had felt baby Mac moving the night before, but didn't feel him moving at all that morning. They figured he was just asleep and were absolutely devastated to learn during the test that he had passed away sometime during the night. The cause was later determined by an autopsy to be the result of an umbilical cord accident.
As a family our hearts sunk as we found out the heartbreaking news and we rushed to the hospital to be by their side. We sat with them in their room as Cali progressed through 14 hours of labor and cried together at the thought of never being able to know little Mac or see him alive. It was hard to believe that less than 12 hours prior to that time Mac had been alive and well.
Josh and Cali's last memory with baby Mac alive was the night before. They rubbed Cali's belly and felt Mac moving, kicking, and hiccuping. They spent time talking to him and told him they loved him and couldn't wait to meet him. Even though Mac never saw his parents faces, we know he knows they love him.
As Cali pushed through the last two hours of labor we sat and listened at the door. Tears streamed down our cheeks as we heard Josh's calm voice help Cali through the pains of delivery. We sobbed as we thought of the pain she was experiencing to deliver a baby she knew she would never get to care for on this earth.
Sweet McKallister Vance Hinckley ("Mac") was born June 27th, just one day shy of his due date, at 5:53 am. He weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz. and was 22 inches long. After Josh and Cali had the opportunity to spend time alone with him, they invited the family in to meet him. The feeling in the room when we entered was sobering and unforgettable! An amazing amount of peace and comfort rested upon everyone present. The veil seemed so thin. We could feel that God was with us and that he loved Josh, Cali and Mac so much. We were all in tears as we took turns holding Mac and spending the short time we had with his earthly body. Although his little body had already started to decay, we could all see past that and saw the incredibly beautiful little boy that he was and is. All in the room could feel that Mac's spirit, although not in his body, was very much with us.
The hospital originally told Josh and Cali they would only be allowed six hours with Mac, but they ended up being able to spend a full 12 hours with him. They had many visits from family and friends, but also had a lot of alone time with little Mac. During their alone time with Mac, they shared many tender moments with him (see video above). They talked to him, prayed with him, and had a chance to say goodbye. After the 12 hours was up, a nurse came in and wrapped up his little body to be taken to Primary Children's Hospital for the autopsy. Each of our hearts broke as we imagined the emptiness and sadness Cali felt as she was discharged from the hospital with empty arms.
We can ask "why?" and "if only..." all we want, but it won't change the reality that Mac just wasn't meant to stay with us. No matter what would have happened differently, the outcome would have remained the same. God does not make mistakes. Mac was simply not meant to be here. He was too perfect to stay. His spirit was so pure that he had to be called home before enduring the trials and pains of this world. He fulfilled his earthly mission in the short time he was here and has returned to his heavenly home.
Mac is a little boy who never took a step into this world, but left his mark and influence upon many. Mac is a spiritual giant and taught us more in the short time he was with us than most people can teach in a lifetime. He brought families together. He taught us to have faith in God's plan. He brought out the best in each of us. He taught us to be humble, to drop to our knees and pray. He helped strengthen our testimonies of the atonement, resurrection, and plan of salvation. He showed us that the way back to him is through our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was only upon this earth for a moment, but his influence will last an eternity.
We will never forget our little Mac. We will never forget the spirit we felt in his presence. We will never forget what he has taught us and how he's changed each of us for the better. Mac sacrificed his life to teach us things we could not have been taught any other way. He sacrificed his life to bring us closer to Christ.
Words cannot express the admiration and love we have all felt for Josh and Cali through this experience. We believe that from the moment they found out they were expecting, they were being prepared and strengthened so that they could endure this trial in faith. They are champions in every sense of the word. Their strength and faith has blessed us all.
McKallister Vance Hinckley was laid to rest on July 2, 2008 at Larkin Sunset Gardens in Sandy, Utah. The day was one of heartache mixed with feelings of deep gratitude for the impact Mac's short life has had on each of our lives.
The day began with a private viewing for close family members and friends. Before the room was opened up for friends and extended family, our immediate family had the opportunity to spend time alone with Mac. The feeling in the room and as we spent time with his precious body was amazing.
As immediate family, we had the special privilege of watching Josh and Cali lovingly dress Mac in his white burial attire. As we watched them, we thought of how they had always imagined they'd be dressing little Mac in the new clothes hanging in their closet for him, but here they were dressing him in burial clothes instead. It was a heartbreaking sight. They placed a little baseball cap on his head and a baseball in his hand.They were so gentle as they placed his precious body in his tiny casket, which was lined with a blanket lovingly made by Josh's brother Isaac and his wife. In the casket they placed the paper flower Josh gave to Cali when he first met her, and a tender letter written to Mac by Cali. Additional keepsakes (a ring, a tie pin, and a teddy bear) were placed with him to match keepsakes Josh and Cali have as quiet reminders of their little boy.
Looking at Mac lying in his casket was like looking at an angel. The spirit that radiated from his precious body was heavenly. He was beautiful, peaceful, and illuminated the pure love of heaven. It seemed as though he was telling each of us, heart to heart, that he was okay, that there was a greater mission for him to fulfill on the other side, and that he was in the loving arms of our Savior. The feeling in the room was literally like being surrounded by heavenly angels -- loving ancestors that had passed on but had been allowed to reunite with us on earth for these few moments in time to comfort us and assure us that Mac was with them and that he was okay. We undoubtedly felt that among those angels, was Josh and Cali's angel. He was there to witness the outpouring of love for him and to speak peace to our hearts. Being in the presence of a spirit so pure, innocent, and close to God was Godlike in every sense of the word.
Before we knew it, the room was literally being filled to the brim with earthly angels--family and friends who had all come to say goodbye to Mac and show of their love for Josh and Cali. The video Julie Williams created (see above) was played and we all sobbed as we watched it and thought of the special mission our little angel came to fulfill. One by one each person in the room said their goodbye's to little Mac. Each goodbye was different--some kissed his little cheek, some rubbed his tiny hand, some spoke to him and thanked him for all he had taught them--but the tears we shed were united as we took our last earthly look at his perfect little body. After saying our goodbye's, our heads humbly bowed together in a family prayer offered by Josh's father and then we watched as Mac's casket was closed until he comes forth in the resurrection.
As we arrived at the burial plot, we were awe struck by the hundreds of people standing there in reverence, with balloons in hand, to pay tribute to baby Mac. Many people present were complete strangers to Josh and Cali, but had been so touched by their story that they felt compelled to attend. It was a humbling sight.
It was a touching sight to watch Josh wrap his arm around Cali and tenderly wipe tears from her face throughout the service. They never imagined they would be attending a funeral for the child they had waited so lovingly for.
An even more humbling sight took place a few moments later as we all witnessed Josh enter the crowd carrying his son's tiny casket. Tears streamed down our cheeks at the sight. It seemed like something no father should ever have to do. Josh had always imagined he'd be carrying Mac in his arms to a baseball game, but never to a grave. He gently placed Mac's casket down and then found his place next to Cali.
The service was beautiful and inspiring. Josh's brother Zack offered the opening prayer. The prayer was followed by Josh and Cali's bishop speaking and offering very comforting words to them and everyone present. Then Josh's brother Jake read the story/poem he wrote (you can view it on the sidebar). The poem was followed by Josh's brother Isaac speaking and making all of us laugh and cry. Then Cali's sister TJ beautifully sang the hymn "Be Still My Soul." TJ's song was followed by Josh humbly dedicating his sons grave, after which we all joined in singing "Families Can Be Together Forever." The service ended with the stunning release of hundreds of balloons and then Cali's brother Colby offered the closing prayer.
Tears flowed freely down everyone's cheeks throughout the service as we were brought to remember the atonement of our Savior and how He has made it possible for us to be resurrected and reunited again as eternal families. We were reminded how Mac had personally touched each of our hearts and how he had changed each of us for the better.
Although sad that we will never get to see Mac grow and develop upon this earth, we feel a deep gratitude for the opportunity to experience the things we have. Through this experience we've learned that dark times and trials are important. Trials show us the beauty of God's comfort. It's through the comfort we receive from God during our difficult times that we learn how to comfort others. Sometimes the process of growing closer to our Heavenly Father comes along the path of heartache and pain.
We feel peace in the knowledge we have that Mac is in the loving arms of our Savior. We are thankful to our Father in Heaven for this very difficult experience. Through our tears we have learned to draw upon the powers of the atonement. Through our tears we have been encompassed by His peace. Through our tears His brilliance shines brighter.