01-17-11 / A Full Weekend
Why has it felt like time is standing still until this weekend? It seems as though we’ve been walking in place for the last week and a half and I’m finally looking forward to a long weekend of doing whatever I want to do, and it flies by. This journey already seems so long but at the same time I feel like we were sitting in Dr. Sherman’s office just yesterday hearing those awful words come from her mouth. The combination of good days with bad is beginning to run together; I can’t seem to sort through them as separate entities, appreciating each one for what it is. As I write this I have allowed an entire weekend to slip through my grasp, I was so busy all weekend that when I did have time to sit and write I was just too worn out. Please be patient with me as I backtrack through the last few days as I don’t want to forget any of it.
Considering how tough the week had been I decided I would start this day on my knees and consequently on my face. I was in my living room ironing my pants on the floor because I’m too lazy to get the ironing board out in the morning; I decided I needed to stop what I was doing and just pray over this day. So I laid my face on the warm carpet, where I had been ironing, and I began begging God for a good day. I just wanted to feel normal. I just wanted to have one day where my mind was clear and genuinely happy. Friday was that day. I decided that since I was feeling pretty on the inside I would actually get dressed, put my heels on and feel pretty on the outside. My typical attire for work is a West Orange t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes; after all I do walk miles and miles every single day while I’m there. It is so out of the ordinary for me to be dressed up that when I walked into one of the first grade classrooms one of the little girls turns around, with big bug eyes and says, “wow, you look really pretty today”. It’s really sad when a first grader notices the fact that I actually put some effort into my appearance. As I made my way down several halls, which I hadn’t done the past few times I drug myself to the school, I slowly realized that my day was going to be as normal as possible at this point. I was able to talk about little baby Thomas without crying, I was able to watch other people cry over my pain and I didn’t shed a tear. I was feeling quite accomplished. Maybe I was starting to get better, maybe I was starting to heal and move on to the next stage of enjoying my pregnancy and loving my baby as much as possible until the day he’s born, most of all maybe the uncontrollable sadness was beginning to fade. One thing I love about my job is that people aren’t pretending I’m not pregnant. I think I expected other people to just ignore my bulging belly and go on about life as if there isn’t a life moving inside of me. One thing that stood out to me Friday was that my assistant principal came in with banana nut bread that she was guilted into buying, sat it down on the desk, went on to talk about how much she hates bananas then proceeds to tell Judy and Nan she got it for them and points at me and says, “and you, feed that baby”. I think some people are afraid to acknowledge that he even exists and I honestly didn’t know how I would feel if people drew attention to him that way; but I can honestly say, it felt good.
My day went on as if my life was good. I had very few “sad” encounters and the ones I did have came from people’s hearts. These are people I see every single day and they are broken for me, that remains such an amazing feeling. I know people don’t want to make me sad, I know they’re just sad for me and don’t know any other way to handle it; the good news was, I had found a way to talk to others while they cry over our loss and hold back my own tears. As a person that hates to cry, this is quite the accomplishment. Aaron and I had corresponded as much as possible throughout the day and it seemed his day was going the same way; we were both having a good day which meant we will be able to truly enjoy our evening together. My parents came over for dinner that night, a dinner that our sweet friend had provided, and as we were eating my mom said this was the first day she had gotten out of bed at a decent hour and didn’t have to force herself to get up. It seemed the whole family was beginning to adjust to this new path in life that we have all been chosen to take. I think we all agreed that on that day we couldn’t cry if we had to, oh how we appreciate the tiny things we once took for granted. As I was getting my plate prepared and coming to the table with it I recall my dad saying, “so, he’s moving around quite a bit?” and I told him it’s constant but especially when I eat, then he said, “can we feel him yet?” This is the closest I came to crying that day. I don’t recall him ever asking to feel Aaden move when I was pregnant with him, not because he wouldn’t have loved to but it’s just not something men think about; this made it even more clear to me how lucky I am to be the one chosen to carry him. Everyone wants to be a part of him from this moment forward because these are the little moments we have with him, but since I’m his mommy I get to be a part of every single part of his life, no matter how short it might be. My parents took Aaden and Kamryn home with them that night because Saturday was another big day for us; we were going to meet another girl that walked in our shoes in 2006. Aaron and I napped on the couch for a bit, woke up to Nancy Grace’s “goodnight friend” and decided to get up and go to a late movie; something we never get to do anymore. I have to say, from start to finish, Friday was not only a good day, it was a great day.
What a nerve racking morning. We were nervous for many irrelevant reasons but mostly for the obvious reasons; we were about to drive to someone’s house we’ve never met and ask them to pour out their heart about the most painful time in their life. Not fun! We were running late, on Bush time as they fondly reference it at work, this didn’t help the level of anxiety. We did decide to go more casual to this meeting than we had to the meeting with the previous couple, live and learn. Aaron actually put on the t-shirt that he wanted to wear to the previous meeting as if to say, I dare you to tell me to change clothes this time. We got the GPS all lined out with the address and off we went. They have one of those houses, like ours, that GPS doesn’t really like. We went so far out of the way; as we were circling and “recalculating” as the GPS lady likes to say, I began to get a feeling in my stomach that maybe this wasn’t meant to be. Maybe we weren’t supposed to be meeting with her on this particular day. I just didn’t have a peace about it for some reason; maybe it was because I knew I would be hearing things that gave me a glimpse into the reality I was facing. It took us a couple of hours to even approach the topic of her son that was born in 2006 with this same “anomaly” but once we got started, we talked for several more hours about her ordeal. Throughout our discussion we heard parts of her story and she heard parts of ours. At times they were very much alike and at times they were very different. Ultimately the end is the same. If it is God’s will for our baby to continue on this path and be born with this thing that makes him “incompatible with life”, no matter what the guts of her story was, the final chapter was going to be the same. One thing I know we both took from it was the comforting fact of how peaceful it is. The fact that the only time we have with our son will be filled with happiness and peace. He will never know pain, we will never have to wipe his tears away, we won’t have to sit back and watch him make poor choices that we want so badly to keep him from making, and our only memory of him will be one of peace and joy. Sadness will be there too, I’m not diluted enough to think that we won’t be painfully sad, that we won’t endure the highest level of physical and emotional pain possible and sob many tears; but our only memory of him will be that he brought us joy and that his entire life here was one of innocence, joy and love. I don’t really know how we felt after our visit with her, we saw our future in that visit and we both had mixed emotions. It had nothing to do with anything she said, it had everything to do with the reality we were facing.
Our Sunday started out like any typical Sunday at the Bush house, we were running on Bush time which meant we were running late. The devil was really on us that day, for reasons I won’t disclose because they’re not important; just know, we were continuously saying, “we will be at church this morning no matter what”. You know it’s a rough morning when you’re pep talking your way through to the next step. It reminded me of Aaden a few Sundays back when he was having to amp himself up for church. He had a rough Sunday the week before and as I was driving us to church I could hear him in his seat saying, “I’m not going to cry, I’m going to play with my friends and share, I’m going to go to my class”; that’s what we sounded like. If we were as sweet and innocent as he is I think we would’ve walked around the house saying, “no matter what is being thrown at us, no matter how frustrated we get, we are going to go to church and give thanks to the God that is holding us like his two babies through this difficult time in our life”. We made it, late as usual but we were there. Just the same as last week, the music and sermon were meant for us to hear. I think we both left feeling better than we had going in. After church I met my girls for lunch at Tokyo, which is never anything short of fabulous. Good food and good company equals a nice Sunday afternoon. They will never know what it meant to me that they were willing to drag me out of the house if necessary to get me away from everything for a little while; at that point I was so thankful for friends that understand me and want to be there for me and also for Sushi. After a very short Sunday afternoon nap we got ourselves together and headed to dinner with our WT gang, this is our group of friends that we’ve had for many years. We haven’t gotten to hang out in quite sometime and it was nice to just sit and laugh with them. Everyone has a group filled with “those friends”, the ones that sit around talking about mindless things that make each person laugh until it hurts; these are “those friends”. I won’t even get into the discussions at the table but it just felt good to laugh, no matter what the topic.
Today we have moved back into the “eh” stage. It hasn’t been an awful day and it hasn’t been a good day, just one of those days that I could stay in my pj’s all day and never even look out the window. This is pretty much how the day went. Aaden spent the day in his own world, which is entertaining to say the least; it’s better than HGTV. Aaron and I spent the day on each other’s nerves. He will probably be mortified to read this but we are human, throughout this entire ordeal we have been so careful to guard each other’s hearts and I think today we just dropped that ball. Don’t worry, it has been picked back up and we’re back on track. We just had an “off” day. “Off” days weren’t so hard before this happened, I’m not used to needing someone, I’m not used to relying on someone else to determine how my day will go; it is still hard for me to grasp. My dad stopped in with some chicken and dumplings that Mom had made and it was so nice to see him. I had just seen them on Saturday but for some reason I long to see all the faces I love every single day. Even if we don’t say a word, just seeing their faces does me some good. I do remember as he left he said, “I’m glad y’all (meaning Aaron and myself) got to spend this day together” and I thought to myself, if you only knew. But I am glad we had this day together, I’m glad we were able to sort through some painful things that had to be addressed and now I’m glad that’s over.
There are many things this weekend has shown me. I am more thankful now than ever before for my support system. We have so many people that love us and want to walk through this with us, side by side; not just to be there in the midst of the goings on, they genuinely want to be there to take our pain away. I am thankful for my husband. He grieves with me, he wants to be a part of every step of this process, he is losing a child too and is feeling the same pain I’m feeling, he is the only person that truly knows how my heart hurts right now and he is more than willing to tough it out right by my side. I am thankful that I have a Mom, Dad, Sister, Nana, Aunts, Uncles and cousins that are walking through this with us step by step. They check on us daily, it’s never about the pain they’re suffering; it’s always about making sure we’re ok. I know how they all feel, I know they all love this baby and I know they all want to hold him and love him until he outgrows their laps; they have pain too but they never bring that up, they’re just here for us and with us. Ultimately I am thankful that I have roots that are grounded in a faith in God. I’d have to say that having that foundation has made this journey just a little bit more bearable. The fact that I was taken to church every single time the doors open (weddings and funerals included), forced into Vacation Bible School, where I spent most of my time in my dad’s office, made to go to GA camp even though I didn’t want to sweat at the encampment in Newton and thought it was stupid that we had to wear one piece swim suits with a shirt over them if we wanted to swim; I’m thankful for all of that. I had many years where I didn’t know my left from my right; I was in constant turmoil and spent much of my time anywhere but the church. I have some stories that would make you wonder how in the world I am where I am today; my answer to that is seed that my parents planted long ago that formed my roots. In a time like this, you go where you’re comfortable. Without that foundation I don’t know that I would have half the peace I do today. I am able to finally put the abstract thought of the power of prayer into a tangible form. I don’t know that I fully believed in the power of prayer until Aaron and I were faced with this situation; it is something that is physically felt and forever appreciated. So thank you Mom and Dad for dragging me to church and instilling a faith that I need now more than ever.