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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

a missing tooth

I have not had a lot of experience with death. I guess I should say I have not had a lot of up close and personal dealings with death.

I was in the 5th grade when my great-grandmother Huber died. I only saw her on Christmas and was a little scared of her. She had arthritis so very bad her hands were misshapen. I remember her being kind. But, that is the extent of my memories...until her funeral. We drove from GA to IN for her funeral. This was my first funeral ever. There was a viewing and seeing her in her casket was one of the most frightening things I had ever witnessed. The next day was her funeral. I sat and watched as people cried and mourned her. I had no understanding of what was really happening. At the end my grandfather, her son, went up and touched her on the cheek. The whole family then loaded into limo's (probably the only reason I remember this day...my first limo ride) and followed her body to the cemetery. I asked my mom why grandpa had touched her cheek. My mom answered, "to say goodbye." I asked what a dead person felt like and she told me, "cold." That is all I really knew about death. I was brought up in a Christian home so I was very aware of what happened after death. I just didn't really get the whole dead part.

In my 31 years I have had only a very few encounters with death. In the 8th grade a good friend of mine was killed in a car accident. I attended her service. In high school my best friends long time boyfriend was killed in a motorcycle accident. In college one of my favorite high school teachers was killed in a motorcycle accident. My other great grandmother passed away in college. And, two years ago my grandfather passed away. I am very blessed to still have my other three grandparents still living. My paternal grandparents are in their 90's and my maternal grandmother is in her 70's. Death was fairly common in the church I worked at. The median age of the membership was 81. So, people died pretty often. I attended most of those funerals out of courtesy...but, had no real feelings either way.

On January 5th my whole view on death changed. I had never encountered death on such a personal level. I never thought in my whole entire life I would create life and watch that life end. I never could have imagined what it would be like to hold a child as it took it's last breath. I could not have in visioned being in a room where someone was born and died withing 22 minutes. I can't even explain the profound effect this has had on my life.

I had never felt death until that day. I had never smelt death until that day. I had never dealt with the aftermath (funerals, paperwork, autopsies) until that day.

And, now death is a part of my every day.

Trent was born with his mommy, paternal grandmother (Grammy), maternal grandmother (Nana), and one of his four aunts their to meet him. He was held by all four of us in his short life. He was loved beyond words. His short life was filled with more love and more tears than most encounter...ever. After he passed away the nurses took him and dressed him, bathed him, took his pictures and footprints, and other things I can't remember. After it was all over they gave him back to me. In those moments he was alive it was like holding any other baby, the only difference was his size. He was warm, soft, delicate, breathing, blood flowing, moving, grasping, sucking. He was perfect. In the hours we spent with his little body after he was gone I learned what death feels like. His little body became so very cold. His skin felt like marble. His hands stayed in exactly the position they were placed. His life was over.

I was on vacation in Florida when the whole nightmare started. My family all lived about an hour from the hospital I was in. Ken's parents flew in from Missouri to be with us. The rest of Trent's aunts and uncles came to meet him. But, they didn't get to feel his warm skin, they didn't get to see him hold mommies fingers, they didn't get to see his little tongue moved. They held his body. My entire family meet death that day first hand. They all held him, loved him, kissed him, cried over him. It wasn't strange...it was like he was sleeping. We kept him in the room all day.

This morning I was in the shower thinking about how unfair that was. How awful it is to drive to a hospital to meet your nephew, grandson, son knowing he was already gone. How sad to hold that little body that held all of my heart. I am grateful beyond words that they all came. I am humbled that they all stopped their lives to meet our precious son. I just wish it was so very different.

Death this close and personal has been so hard for me. In the beginning I kept thinking I must have dreamed it. He was still going to come home to the nursery we prepared for him. He would still be our son. But, that will never happen.

Death for me is like when you lost a tooth when you were little. The tooth was gone forever from you body. You could hold that little tooth...but, it never again would be part of you. The whole in your mouth was fresh with blood and pain. You can still see the hole weeks after the tooth is gone. You can stick your tongue in it and play with the emptiness. Yes, a new tooth can grow in it's place...but, you will never, ever had what was lost. It is forever missing.

2 comments:

Lucid Anne said...

Beautifully heartbreaking. <3

Danae said...

The missing tooth analogy is a great way to put it Trisha.

Unfortunately death is no stranger to me. I can remember my great grandma's death in 1990 when I was 7. I only have one surviving grandparent.

But, it's still all completely different when it's your own child who dies.

I am so glad you were able to hold sweet Trent when he was alive. That's the one thing I wish I could have done.

Thinking of you, sending you love and hugs!!

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