Flashback Friday- From August 2007
As a veteran of Desert Storm and serving in Saudi Arabia as a nurse, Marki Armes of Scottsboro, Alabama, knows about challenges. On January 30, 1992, Marki and her husband, Tim, became parents to their first-born child, Blake Hunter Armes. It was quite a surprise to discover that Hunter was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and a small nose. As a result, he was transferred immediately to a large medical facility in Birmingham.
Hunter was born by c-section, so Marki was unable to go with him for the first two days due to complications from her surgery. With a broken heart, she thought, “I have waited all this time to see him, and they didn’t even let me hold him”. Tim stayed with Marki that first day while both sets of Hunter’s grandparents went to Birmingham to be with Hunter.
The next day, Tim joined the grandparents in Birmingham to learn more about Hunter’s medical condition. Still hospitalized in Scottsboro, Marki was trying to make sense of it, thinking to herself, “Why did they rush him to Birmingham so quickly? I know he has a cleft palate, but surely the doctors at this hospital have seen that in other infants before.” Within hours, she would learn the reason for the doctors’ urgency and the challenges facing their family.
Marki’s parents returned to her bedside that evening to deliver heartbreaking news. Marki remembers, “My mom and dad came back that night and could barely speak. I thought, ‘He has some kind of brain damage. That’s okay; I will just be at home with him for the rest of our lives. That’s okay; I can do that.’” As a trained nurse and a new mom, Marki was ready to face the challenge head on.
“My parents were awfully quiet, and nothing was making sense. Why is everyone so quiet? We will suffer through the surgeries for the palate, and it will be okay.” But, it was only a matter of seconds before the tears began flowing and Marki’s father explained that Hunter had been diagnosed with alobar holoprosencephaly and that, “They don’t expect him to live three weeks.”
From that moment on, Marki was determined to hold her little baby boy before it was too late. As Tim and Marki traveled to Birmingham, they were scared, yet hopeful in thinking, “Maybe they just don’t know what they’re talking about, and Hunter will be fine.” Even as Tim wheeled her into the Postnatal ICU, Marki didn’t want to be welcomed and oriented by the hospital staff. She explained, “People were trying to talk to me, and I was thinking, ‘Get out of my way! I have a little boy to meet!’”
Prior to meeting Hunter, Marki had tried to rationalize the situation by saying to herself, “I just won’t get attached, then it won’t hurt if he does die.” Of course, that isn’t what happened. According to Marki, “They handed me our sweet little boy. I looked him over, touched him all over and bent down and kissed his little lips. He started crying, and I fell so deeply and purely in love with him. I already loved him because he was mine, but the love I felt at that moment was so much more intense.”
Hunter surpassed those early predictions and went home with his devoted family. He needed a feeding tube for nutrition and hydration, and he struggled with seizures and temperatures at times as high as 105-106 degrees. Through it all, Hunter was surrounded by the love and devotion of his family. Tim and Marki had a beautiful six months and nine days together with Hunter filled with devotion and unconditional love. Marki was with him every minute, and she wouldn’t trade those minutes together for anything in the world.
It is that deep love for Hunter which allows Marki to share his story today, 15 years following his death. The love Marki feels for Hunter today is still just as powerful as it ever was. Together, Tim and Marki have weathered the storms of life through Hunter’s example of strength and love. “Hunter taught us how to love, how to love each other, and how to be there for each other. I hope Hunter has taught us how to be even better parents for our two children we have now. We know what it is to lose them.”
Since Hunter’s passing, Tim and Marki have expanded their family to include Hunter’s sister, Harli, who is 14, and his brother, Chase, who is 7. 15 years have passed, but Marki carries Hunter always in her heart as she describes, “He is in every moment of my life.”
Marki relies on her strong faith to find hope for her future. She says, “Our Father in heaven has told us: ‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you.’ (Jeremiah 29:11-14a). That hope is so real to me. I have sought God with all my heart, and I have found Him. I was saved at the age of 16, but we have walked together since Hunter was born. If anyone has strayed, it has been me. I never knew if Hunter knew me or not, but when I get to heaven, I will know him and then I will also know that he finally knows me too!”
What a glorious reunion it will be when Marki holds Hunter in her arms once again!
Not Completely Whole
Our son was born not completely whole;
I prayed to the Lord to take control.
I didn’t know what to expect each day and night
While our baby was losing the fight.
He is so sweet and innocent
Not deserving to have his life spent.
It got harder as the days went by
He suffered more and more; we sang lullabies.
I prayed to the Lord to take control
I didn’t know He would have him go.
He was so beautiful and lovely to hold
I finally let God take him home.
I will never forget my first baby boy,
That little one gave us such joy.
I love you Hunter forevermore.
I know you are happy with our LORD!
I can’t wait to get there to watch you play.
Then, you will look at me and you will say,
“I have been waiting for you, but I knew
You had to love my brother and sister too.”
Written by Marki Armes, mother to Hunter, Harli and Chase