Those of us who have been through child loss know as well as anyone the power of a moment in time. Grasping those moments with the child you know you may not have long, and trying to survive in the meantime and the after. It’s so easy to slip into a depressive cycle after losing your…
… Yes, Jesus loves me.
For the Bible tells me so.
It had been a cloudy, rainy and all around dreary week. There were as many tears shed in the pediatric ICU of the hospital as there were raindrops that fell on Middle Georgia over the course of 3 days.
Tests had been run. Checked and double checked. Diagnoses had been confirmed. Decisions had been made. Arrangements for the way we wanted things to go had been set up.
After a beautiful baptism out of a Coleman camping plate and an impromptu singing of Jesus Loves Me, the wheels were set into motion.
A group of around twenty dwindled down to only a few. Family and a very small handful of close friends remained, searing the last visit with Charlie to their memory. Looking back, there was an unspoken hierarchy in who stayed and who left. Friends moved through first, leaving family behind to comfort and say goodbyes.
I very vividly remember seeing my Dad, who should have been playing guitar at a wedding reception, with tears streaming down his face. I know now that the tears were as much for me as they were for Charlie. Daddies fix things. That’s just what they do. And he couldn’t fix this… there was no amount of epoxy or super glue or solder that would ever heal my broken heart.
Seeing my Mom and Jason’s Mom hold Charlie with the tenderness that only a Grandmother could give is forever burned into my memory.
Then the room was empty — void of everything except tremendous love and irrevocably broken hearts.
Jason and I were left alone to memorize every single detail and savor every last breath of our first born son. Besides our crying and talking to Charlie, the only other sounds were of a doctor and nurse silently crying behind us.
You know how sometimes if you cuddle with your child hard enough you think they could just climb back inside you and become part of your body again? Charlie was held with such desperation, while we were willing our bodies to fix his, and at the same willing him not to hold on too long.
Both of us knew we wanted just enough time. Enough time for us to memorize it all. Enough time to say it all, but not so much time that our panic sets in.
Forty three minutes after he was handed to us, as the last toe was kissed and right before the panic crept in, sunlight came streaming through the curtains for the first time in 3 days.
With the rustle of papers behind us and a flip of the monitor’s power button, we knew that it was over.
That last 43 minutes was just enough time.
But 24 days of life was certainly not.
Here I sit, exactly ten years later, and I can still see it all from above… like an intruder, breaking and entering into someone’s most painful moment. But only now, for the first time, can I see that sometimes people don’t need a lifetime to leave their mark on the world.
Sometimes 24 days can be just enough time.