my journey through the loss of my first son and the life of my second

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the weight of his life.

Ken and I spent the last four days on a much needed vacation. We went to Fredericksburg, Texas. It is a small town of 8911 people and over 550 bed and breakfasts. We laughed together, ate together, watched movies, drank wine, napped together, and just relaxed. We were "us." It was a good four days. I put on my happy face and went for it. But, yesterday was Tuesday.

Ten weeks. I know it is silly to still be counting. But, I can't figure out how to stop. There were baby stores and maternity shops...all of which I should have been shopping at. It is hard to explain. Hard to understand. Hard to live. I walked by those stores...refused to go in, refused to look in.

A few nights ago I had a dream of Trent's fifth birthday party. We were at a park...streamers, balloons, cake, ice-cream, smiling laughing kids. My son was turning five. The hardest part of that dream is that it will only ever be that. He will never celebrate a first, second, or fifth birthday. He will never go to school. He will never have his first crush. He will never skin his knee. He will never... anything.

When I was pregnant the baby was all I could think or talk about. I had waited my whole life for this and really never thought it would be. Ken and I would lay in bed at night and talk about names. We would dream of all the things we would do with our child, all the places we would take them. I wondered which one of us he would look like. I wanted him to have Ken's dimples.

He had my nose. He had Ken's lips. He had my blonde hair. He had Ken's long fingers. He had my feet. He was our son.

The day he was born when they put him in my arms I was forever changed. Today, I have spent the day thinking about him. I didn't think about what could have been, I thought of the time I had with him. After the nurse pronounced him dead he gasped for breath. His who little chest rose and his mouth opened...he was fighting for what he would never have....a life. When he gasped for that last breath I asked if anyone else saw it. It was like I needed to know someone else knew he had been there. I felt the weight of his little one pound body in my arms. Did you? I watched him fight for a life he deserved. Did you? I cry tonight for what he could have been...

Ten perfect toes.

Ten perfect fingers.

He was here. The weight of his life forever with me. The love I had for him marks me in a new way.

I wish I could have him. I know that is selfish. I know he feels no pain where he is. I think that he is waiting on me up there. I think that he has made friends. I know he is complete. I know I can't fail him anymore where he is. I know he got to meet our Maker before I did. But, it is not how it is supposed to be. I should still have him.

Ken and I have stayed at bed and breakfast's a few times in our marriage. We really enjoy them. It is such a different experience than a hotel room. We opted to stay at a B&B this weekend too. We had a cute little room. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast each morning. I managed to make it for three whole days without dragging down the mood and telling anyone I had just lost my son. The last morning we were there, this morning, we were sitting at the breakfast table and a new couple walked in. If you have never stayed at a bed and breakfast it is very common that the inn keepers host breakfast and all the guests come together and share that meal. On the first three mornings we shared the breakfast table with four older couples, their kids all Ken's and my ages. This morning the table was filled with three other couples all about our ages. When the last couple walked in I got the wind knocked out of my sails...she was pregnant. I knew the conversation would soon turn to, "when are you due?" "is this your first?" "boy or girl?" I wasn't ready...I wanted to run for the door. I had survived three mornings without killing the mood in the room with our story. As they sat down I just took a deep breath and braced myself. As the questions started and the pleasantries turned to Ken and I....I answered that familiar, painful, heart-wrenching question "Do you have any children?" with..."Yes, we have a son. He was born ten weeks ago and lived for 22 minutes." The table and conversation came to a halt. The normal looks, the head tilted to the side, the normal "I am so sorry." But, this morning there was something more. Did I mention the pregnant woman's husband? He was a Marine. He had been severely burned. He had burns covering every visible inch of his body. He had lost his leg in the accident. He was badly disfigured. His ears were missing. His hands had special devices on them to help him function. He said to me, "I have never been through anything like you have been through." Here a man who fought for his life for months after he was burned. He told us they didn't expect him to live. He spent months in ICU. He has had countless surgeries. His life changed by this disfiguring injury...and he had never been through anything like me. It was such a quick remark. Ken missed him even saying it. He went on to say that since his accident people have told him how much easier it would have been if he just would have died. He would not have had to go through the pain that he did. He told me that people don't understand life and death the way we do. I don't even compare to him. I don't even come close to what he went through. But, to him...mine was worse. Is it because he has three healthy children at home and one on the way? Is it because he has seen death and walked away? I don't know. But, it made me think. I haven't stopped thinking about it. What a story he has. What a hard road. And, he thinks I don't compare. I wanted to stay and talk with them all day. I wanted to tell him how much stronger he was than me. I wanted to tell him I cried every single day. I wanted to tell him how weak I was and how strong he was. I wanted to tell him that what he had survived was so much more than what I was surviving.

But, I didn't. I drove away with a heavy heart.

I will never know my son. I will never hold him again. I will never ...

But, it could be worse. My heart is broken, heavy, empty today. I have cried and cried today.

Tomorrow morning that Marine has yet another surgery. His accident was over three years ago. I didn't even get their names...but, they are still holding on. Still fighting for this life. It must be precious to fight that hard. It is precious.

Today I have cried because my son gasped for air I could not give him. He fought for a life that my body took away from him. We created him and I failed him. I don't understand it. I can't explain it. But, I will keep pressing on because the truth is many, many people have it a lot worse than me.


Anonymous said...

What a precious story. Thanks for sharing about how the Marine affected your story.

As your April Secret Pal, I've gone back and read your postings from the very beginning to get to know you and what you've been going through. Sending you big, big, gigantic (((hugs))).

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