Thursday, December 18, 2014
I remember so clearly this night 5 years ago. We spent the very last full day of Andrew's life by his side at the hospital. Austin held him for the first time. Sometime that night, we left the hospital and went to Dillard's to buy something nice to wear for his baptism. I kept thinking, "How am I gonna do this?" How does a person go to sleep and wake up the next morning knowing the world is going to stop spinning the way it should? We had to wake up, brush our teeth, wash our faces, eat breakfast, and go to a hospital to baptize and unplug our son from the machines keeping him alive. We weren't sure what would happen next. Would he struggle to live? Would he hang on for minutes, hours...days? We only knew that we were making the decision to let him go and we were braced for whatever came next. Thankfully, he stayed long enough to let us hold him and love him and know his baby body free of wires while he breathed in and out. He lay still in my arms, warm and wrapped up, when his heart finally stopped. I'll never ever forget the doctor's face when she checked his heart one final time and found it still. Our little baby had moved on and we were left holding his body. Left to pick ourselves up and make a life out of the shambles we found around us. My life both stopped and began in that conference room. I died that day with my Andrew. His life and death changed me so deeply. The innocence, the blind hope, the assurance I'd always had died that day. I became brand new with his death. So many things have come from those 13 days 5 years ago. I have new compassion and empathy for situations and people who I never even saw before. I have new friendships with people I consider family now that birthed from those 13 days. My heart is hurting tonight just as it was December 18, 2009. But tonight, I am stronger, more fully aware of how crazy lucky I am to have two little babes tucked in tight in their rooms, more in love with my husband, and so incredibly proud of who we are today. We are unbroken. We survived. We chose light instead of dark, faith instead of hopelessness, fierceness instead of weakness. We protected each other and loved each other and forgave each other every day of these last five years. We made two more beautiful babies and are so immensely thankful for their lives. I look at our family pictures and I see five where everyone else sees four. We, to the world, are four. But, you, sweet Andrew, are always always there. You are knitted into my skin and I'll never be without you. My first sweet boy, you live in my heart, your name is always on my tongue. I wish I could call it out for the world to hear in a different way, one not tinged with grief and loss and missing. Our story is not what it should have been, but it is our story and I'll walk it in whatever way I can. I love you, angel boy.