Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Happy birthday, little boy

April 28 was a beautiful day.

The air was scrubbed clean and it was shining like polished brass.

The rain that came to us over the weekend washed all of the pollen-dullness away and the grass and trees fairly vibrated in their green dresses, and bride-white flower petals sparkled, and sky-blue lightheartedness danced all around us.

Purple prose. I do acknowledge that I am overstating it…

But it was good. It was really beautiful outside. There was a lovely breeze and all the colors really were that pretty and Don spent the whole day mowing the lawn (the back yard was covered with wild-as-my-fourth-period-class wisteria for a little more than a generation, and we tried to pull a ton from the trees a few weeks ago, but dang) and I cleaned the house that I love so, so much, and we both felt the Lord visiting with us. Every once in a while, I would glance out the back windows to watch Don working and a rush of gratitude would wash over me: I miss Ben, but look at what I have. Look at this precious man that I have. I was happy when it was just us, before Ben was even a thought—even if God chose to never bless us with another, I still have this man who makes me laugh and think and who sometimes makes me mad, but always keeps me company in the most profound way. I love him. I wish our son was toddling around with us, but I love his father and I never want to look back at our life together and wish that I hadn’t wasted this moment or any moment.

People brought us things. Mom remembered that I always forget that I love peonies, so she brought me some to plant. Others brought us hanging baskets, and vases of Publix flowers (a flower is a flower is a flower— I loved them so shut up, MC). Chocolate. Sent cards. Called. Mostly, I think, people prayed. The whole day was filled up with goodness.

I had asked Don to get the bag of stuff from the hospital down from the attic. This is the bag of the most special of Ben’s things. This bag sat in his crib until we took it down—I wasn’t trying to be maudlin about it at the time, but it was the best place for it in our tiny house. We bought our “new” home about four and a half months after Ben’s passing and I had left his nursery up the whole time… I just never could decide when the “right” time to take it down might be… it was sort of my last connection to his reality in our lives and I couldn’t bear to say that final goodbye. Dear women who had gone before me told me to take as long as I needed— hearing their words set my heart at ease. I don’t know when I would have taken the nursery down if we hadn’t moved. If you’re reading this and you’re just now walking through it, here’s what I think: you leave that nursery up for as long as you need to. At some point, you’ll need to walk on…but not soon. If you need six months, take six months. The people who love you will gently lead you, I hope, when it has been too long… but for me, I am so grateful that my husband was alright with letting me have that time. I’ll tell you, though, he was happy to take it down when we finally did.

Anyway, we took showers and sat down on the bed, all scrubbed and clean and we got out each item: his little footprints (did I say little?? I had forgotten how big his baby feet were!), and the length of measuring tape with his 19” marked off. There was a smudge of cord blood on the measuring tape and I could feel the peace in my heart begin to move…a piece of him. I’m so grateful that the nurses left me that blood.

We looked at his little hospital bracelet, and at ours. “Mother” and “father” and “baby Swaney.”

We looked at the blanket they wrapped him in. I unfolded it for the first time… another spot of cord blood…my son had so recently been alive when they wrapped him in this blanket. I gasped slightly. His blood. My baby’s blood. He was alive, alive, alive, and he had my blood running through his little veins and he was mine. Ah, God, he was mine.

We opened the ziplocked bag that held the onesie and undershirt that they had put on him. I had saved it-- it has never been opened since the nurses put it in the bag and last year, I resisted opening it. I wanted to save touching it for the first time for his first birthday. We both cried as we looked at his little things, at his little marks of life, his footprints, his hair clippings...

We prayed together that the Lord would somehow let Benjamin know that his parents love him and long for him and that we have not forgotten him and that we won't. And that there are lots of other people who will remember him, too. And that if it was possible, could You hug him for us, Jesus?

And then we put the bag away and held each other and went to sleep-- missing him, but okay.

And I think that's how life is going to be. I'm going to miss him, but I'm going to be okay.

1 comment:

Fawn Gilmore Kraut said...

Thank you for sharing your heart, Samantha. Shalom to you and your husband.