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Eulogy for Our Beloved Third Child

I'm sure everyone knows by now that Ronen died on September 29 / 29 Elul. Not sure yet what we'll do with this site, but we're not going to update it beyond this point.

To close, a copy of our remarks, which Bob delivered, from the funeral:

Eulogy for Our Beloved Third Child

Delivered at his funeral on October 2, 2019 / 3 Tishrei 5780

Ronen Eliezer Labovitz came into this world on his own terms on August 20, 2019, bein ha-sh’mashot, in the liminal time at dusk between the 19th and 20th days of Av. After an uneventful pregnancy, Ronen was diagnosed with a right-sided congenital diaphragmatic hernia within minutes after his birth, and transported to the NICU at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, where he lived the rest of his life. At seven days old, the surgical team repaired the hole in Ronen’s diaphragm. He was, by all accounts, making a remarkable recovery, being weaned from respiratory support and gaining strength in eating quickly. His death on Sunday, September 29 in the last hours of the Jewish calendar year was quick and unexpected. He was well-cared for by his nurses and doctors, several of whom came to tell us how good a baby he was, and how much they loved to visit him and snuggle with him. We are grateful to the staff of Children’s National for giving him the best quality of life he could have had, and grateful to them for their letting us accompany him as far as we could on his final journey. 

Ronen was full of personality. He loved to be held. He loved listening to music -- and his room was constantly filled with all types of music: Jewish songs, lullabies, cantorial music, country music, Gilbert & Sullivan, Broadway, classic rock, and 90’s R&B (specifically Boyz II Men). He had discerning taste in music, and let us know which he didn’t like. When he finally was transferred to a room with a window, Ronen always stared intently at the sky when there were well-defined clouds. He had a fishy aquarium the NICU set up for him that played music, which he watched for hours on loop. He protested anytime a nurse would fix the tape on his face, but was determined to peel it off and pull the tubes out any way he could. 

On Sundays, Judah and Devorah would come visit their brother Ronen. They observed the first time that their brother had “pipes.” In the happiest moments we spent together, Judah and Devorah sat on a chair and held Ronen in their laps, holding his hand, singing their favorite songs to him, and playing with his toesies. On a walk yesterday, Ronen’s big brother and sister told their Savta, “We can remember him in our hearts, and we can remember him in our brains, and we can remember him in our toes.”

We are grateful to our family for their close monitoring and care for Judah and Devorah, and to our community of friends and colleagues for the constant support these past few weeks, sending us meals and visiting us in the hospital. We appreciate everyone who supported us and our three children. We’re sure you know that we will reach out if there is anything we need. Please know we are comforted by all of you who have simply shown up for us, reached out to us, sent messages, and embraced us. 

May Ronen Eliezer’s memory forever be a blessing to all of us.

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