Monday, October 28, 2013

How could I have known?

Each year for my children's birthdays, I do a "birthday book" for them - a book full of pictures, stories, and events from the last year of their life. In September, I completed my oldest's 8th birthday book. They love to go back and look at them on Sundays and read about the funny things they said or did when they were 2 or 3 years old.

Link's birthday is in a little over a week and I have been working on his book. Except his is not just a birthday book. It's his life book. Instead of writing all about how he tried his first foods, got his first tooth, started crawling, started saying "mama" and started walking, it ends just before he turns 5 months. Unlike my other children, his book won't end with his updated professional pictures. It will end with funeral pictures. 

I have done the first 2 months of his life and the book is already over 100 12x12 pages long. I am bad at choosing pictures of my children anyway, but when these pictures are all I have left of him, you'd better believe I am putting all 10 of him in the same outfit on the same day in that book. I am also including the journal entries I wrote to him when I was pregnant with him and ALL the journal entries & blogs during his hospital stay. Needless to say, it's going to be long. 

Doing his birthday book has been a bigger drain that I could have imagined & it's not just the pictures. The pictures are hard to see, but it's the journal entries that are harder. In my journal, I talk about how hard it was to be there in the NICU. Not getting to hold him and nurse him. Not getting to go home to his sisters.

How could I have known?

How could I have known that I would give anything, ANYTHING, to go back to that hospital - with all those wires and machines hooked up to him and live in complete chaos - just to hold him again? Just to kiss those cheeks? How could I have known that what I thought was hell was actually heaven on earth? 

Other journal entries are more chilling. 

Here is a dream I had while we were staying in the NICU in St. George:

I had a dream right before I woke up this morning. We were all at some big party thing & then we went into this house. Mom or someone turned on some water so Link could get a bath. It filled up the whole house. It started to cover Link & so I went to pick him up – I remember thinking it wasn’t a big deal – but he swallowed some water & when I went to hold him, he couldn’t breathe & the arched his back & then went limp as a rag doll. I kept trying to pat his back & get him to breathe, but he just wouldn’t. I remember yelling for help & then SCREAMING! I think I might have woken up screaming. It was so scary. 

How could I have known?

How could I have known that the facts of that dream would become a reality? Not that he drowned, but picking him up, knowing he wasn't breathing, holding him when he was limp as a rag doll. SCREAMING for help. How could I have known that was actually going to happen and wasn't just a horrible nightmare?

And here is one from when we were staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia:

Then we went back to the room & watched a show on TV. Then, out of nowhere,  this lady was SCREAMING in the hall. I mean, seriously, everyone came out of their rooms to see what was going on. I honestly thought maybe she just found out her child had died. She was hysterical. Jason went out there to see & apparently she was drunk (they served alcohol at the big shindig) & her husband wouldn’t let her hold their 5-month-old baby because she was too drunk & she freaked out. Apparently, she went to the hospital after that & sent him to a hotel for a night. Anyway, I could hear little kids crying after that. Everyone was a little shook up. What an awful night.  Listening to that woman – wondering what I would sound like if I DID find out my child had died.

How could I have known?

How could I have known that in just 3 and a half short months from that moment, I would, indeed, know what I sounded like, knowing that my child had died. And it's worse that I could possibly have imagined that night. 

A journal entry from January, when we were settling back into "real life."

It’s incredible how fast the days are flying right now. With the girls back in school – and Link to add to our sweet busyness – things like writing in my journal, doing a New Years blog, updating my regular blog, getting up to date with my finances, etc – seem SO difficult to get to. Especially when I’m taking naps to make up for lost sleep & working toward getting in 1 whole hour of workouts a day. Those 2 things seem to keep me from all those other things I should be doing. 
So – anyway – time is flying. I still have much to do. But all I really want to do is sit around & enjoy my family. Cuddle with the girls. Talk to them about life. Watch my baby boy smile and start to laugh. Watch the girls dance for me. Run around with them. Cuddle with my sweetheart. Hold his hand. Tell him how grateful I am for him & how much I love to be with him. That’s all I really WANT to do. But this is real life & we don’t always get what we want, do we? 

How could I have known?

How could I have known that those things I WANTED to do, I SHOULD have focused on? That I wouldn't get a whole lot more chances to "watch my baby boy smile and start to laugh." That I should have worried less about those extra 10 pounds and getting that hour workout in than spending a solid hour focusing on my children and husband?

And Link's blessing. What an amazing day, filled with so much love and so many wonderful people. The unapproachable joy of that day! 

How could I have known?

How could I have known that those same people that were there to celebrate his birth, his life, his good health, would be back just 3 short weeks later to mourn his death. HOW COULD I HAVE EVEN BEGUN TO GUESS? 


I have started re-reading The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. My trial is so tiny compared to hers. I can't really even start to compare, but she put into words all that was going through my mind as I have been doing Link's book:

"It was a day for memories. A day for calling up the past. How could we have guessed as we sat there - two middle-aged spinsters and an old man - that in place of memories we were about to given adventure such as we had never dreamed of? Adventure and anguish,  horror and heaven were just around the corner, and we did not know. Oh Father, Betsie! If I had known would I have gone ahead? Could I have done the things I did? 
But how could I know? How could I imagine this white white-haired man, called Opa - Grandfather - by all the children of Haarlem, how could I imagine this man thrown by strangers into a grave without a name? 
And Betsie, with her high lace collar and her gift for making beauty all around her, how could I picture this dearest person on earth to me standing naked before a roomful of men? In that room on that day, such thoughts were not even thinkable." 

This book is so good. I am not far into it yet - she is still talking about her good memories, but I know what's coming. I know the bad, horrible, unthinkable things that are going to take place. It's like in a movie where there are those happy scenes, but the music changes and you know, you know that something bad is coming. And you want to turn it off or fast-forward those parts. Believe me... a big part of me wishes I could fast-forward these past 7 months of pain and anguish. Misery and broken-ness. But this quote from The Hiding Place held me fast and made me catch my breath:

"Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but to the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do." 

I don't know what God has planned for me. I still can't fathom why Link had to die. But I know God loves me and I know... I know he knows all things and will help me get through this - and not just get through it - but IF I LET IT, use it to change me and help me grow in ways that I also cannot fathom. I hope it will eventually be preparation for what He would have me do, so that one day, I will say 

"How could I have known? How could I have known that such a tragedy could become such a blessing and a force for good in my life & the lives of others?"

4 comments:

Trish the Dish said...

You are an incredible writer and example to me. I love you!!

Ryan and Shannan Hoffman said...

I loved this post. It was so amazing to read your journal entries. I can't imagine how much it must hurt still.. I am sure it will be extra emotional with his birthday. Praying for you guys to feel peace and comfort.

Patricia Potts said...

Such wisdom from one so young.

I was listening to an audiobook and heard this quote: "God gives us Innate obstacles directly related to our gifts"

Your obstacle has brought forth the gift of light against the exquisite tapestry of your life.

I feel humble to be your mom.

Patricia Potts said...

Such wisdom from one so young.

I was listening to an audiobook and heard this quote: "God gives us Innate obstacles directly related to our gifts"

Your obstacle has brought forth the gift of light against the exquisite tapestry of your life.

I feel humble to be your mom.