Today is one of those days. One of those mercilessly frequent days when we feel the entirety of our brokenness as a family. Today my husband mourned the last day that he had "his boy." The last day that he held him and played with him before that horrible seizure led to the coma that stole him away forever. He mourns in silence because the enormity of his pain is too much for any of us to bear. Who can you possibly reach for in those horrifying moments, if you can't even bring it to your own family? He only wanted to reach for one person, and that little person is gone.
It's one of those days where, in the midst of my husband's grief, I was doing things that kind of looked like functioning. I went to the grocery store. I prepared a dinner. I gave medications to our sick kids. I was sort of reeling over my utter ambivalence about the fact that two of our kids had very high fevers and had been vomiting all night. I kept thinking about how easy this "illness" was. No need to pack a bag for a potential hospital stay. They would simply get better. Did that still happen? Was that was this new world meant for us? No need to fear that the vomiting would result in the expulsion of vital anti-seizure medications, or that a high fever would encourage more seizures. Was this possible? Did I only need to sit back and watch as their bodies healed themselves? As I sit and write this, they each have their own books and are smiling in their own little worlds. So, I guess the answer to all of these questions is "yes." At least that's today's answer...
This day encouraged my husband to ask me for my phone because, as of right now, it is the only device we have with recorded videos of our forever baby. Like most of the pieces of our grief lives, we view these videos differently. He watches them to remember and to help soothe a need. I don't watch them at all. I did for a time, but today upon showing him how to retrieve them from the phone, I started one and the sound of my son's laughter filled my ears and shattered what's left of my heart.
Like I said, it's one of those days. One of those days in which my skin feels like it's barely strong enough to keep me from going everywhere at once. One of those times where all I can do is lie down and lose myself in a book in order to take my thoughts anywhere but that searingly painful place. And it all started with a laugh. A beautifully rhythmic baby giggle that at one point would have seemed like the sweetest music, but now burns an irreparable hole into my soul. My physical relationship with my son has been reduced to a video. While I know that the blessing of this video is a true gift, I wonder, would it be enough for you? I don't just hear the laugh when I watch it. I see the toy he was sitting on and I remember the first time he manipulated it successfully. I remember our cheers as a family in the middle of our living room floor, and his look of wonder at what we could possibly be so excited about. I remember the feel of that fleece Old Navy pullover that he wore all the time. I remember the smell that wafted up from the collar as his body snuggled against mine. I remember the frayed ends and how it became too short during his last autumn in my arms. I see that baby laughing at his sister and I remember the woman on the other side of the camera trying desperately to enjoy the moment, but ever vigilant as she waited for one of the harder seizures to take his right side by storm and slam his body on the concrete. I remember her need to stop the camera and take him inside to prepare his third meal of the day, and I remember his reluctance to eat it and the frustration that brought.
I can no longer hear that laugh without the sting of pain. That toy has been banished to his room where everything else is piled around it like haunting relics of what will never be. The little girl in the video has lost her best friend and her eyes are forever changed. And that fleece pullover...that wonderfully soft piece of baby sweetness that used to be a regular part of my life has lost its sweet scent. I'm always amazed at the millions of ways in which we are capable of losing one person. And although the heaviness of that loss is always present, today was particularly grief-laden. Once again I've lost my son, and this time, at the hands of laughter.