Oct 19, 2008

Pictures of You

Overwhelmed by exhaustion and other emotions as yet unnamed, we kissed Wiley's head and handed him to a nurse to be taken down to the morgue. I was finally admitted to a private room, my parents tearfully left, and we were able to sleep.

Sleep was broken, at best. A nurse came in every hour to check my vitals and administer more drugs. I woke up each time she came in, trying to smile to ease her discomfort. I didn't dream in between her visits, and often Ty was awake as well. Tuesday morning rolled around, and Ty and I looked at each other, but didn't speak. My mom arrived, red-eyed, around 9:00am, bringing flowers. Following her was my dad, Ty's parents, my grandparents, my older brothers, my Sister-in-law, and my Aunt. Each person stepped tenatively into the room, eyes red and puffy, and as each arrived they came directly to my bed, bent down and kissed me, saying softly, "I love you Chelsea, I'm so sorry." I was surprised to hear those words from my aunt, and to see my Grandfather's tears. I never knew these people really loved me, and yet here they were, grieving alongside me. My room quickly filled with cards and flowers, and I found myself plastering a smile on my face to show I was brave. My mother leaned into me and said, "it would be nice if everyone could see and hold Wiley, should I ask to have him back?" I cringed, imagining his body decaying and stiff, but nodded. He was brought in quickly, and Kay, our nurse, explained that she had not taken him to the morgue, believing we would want him again. Wiley was passed around the room, bringing fresh tears to already-swollen eyes, and finally put into my arms again.

I stared at him and felt my eyebrows pulling together in concentration. He didn't look any different than last night. He was cold, but not stiff. He was a little bluer than last night, but I still expected his eyes to open. My mind worked furiously as I tried to will his eyes to open. It didn't make any sense that this perfect little boy, who was only sleeping, wouldn't open his eyes and look at me. I laid him in my lap and opened his blanket. He was long everywhere. His arms and legs were long; his torso was long. He had chub everywhere, and I smiled to see how big his tiny hands and feet were. I pressed my lips to his forehead and smelled his baby smell. Even in death he smelled wonderful to me. I smoothed my thumb from the tip of his nose into his thick, dark hairline and repeated it. I couldn't stop the movement, his softness was a drug to me, and I swallowed lump after lump in my throat while I stroked his face. My eyes were the only dry eyes in the room. I blinked, trying to form tears so I wouldn't look cold, but my whole body felt dry. I felt cold. I touched his ears, his toes, his fingers, and his knees. I kissed his cheeks, and rubbed his chest. He was wearing a diaper, which made me smile at the irony, until I saw a reddish brown liquid seeping from his ears and nostrils. I wiped it away with the blanket, and looked up at my mom. She answered my unspoken question while helping me wipe the liquid away. It was fluid leaking from his organs as they atrophied. I realized the diaper was probably collecting even more of the fluid, and sighed. Looking back, I feel regret that I didn't remove the diaper. His butt had been so long positioned in my belly directly under my ribs where I could place my hand, that I feel sorrow now that I never took that diaper off to see that little butt.

My brother Jesse brought his digital camera, and took several pictures of Wiley. We had a few from a disposable camera from the night before, but Jesse's ingenuity was what carried me through many dark days in the future.

Finally, Kay, our nurse, came in and asked if we wanted an autopsy. We shook our heads no, and she gently suggested we consider it, and that if we did want one, we would need to give Wiley to her within the hour to take to the morgue before the warmth of the air further decayed his organs. Less than an hour later, we decided we did want the autopsy. I needed to know what caused the infection that robbed me ever seeing my son open his eyes. Before handing Kay our son, I kissed his forehead for the last time and looked hard at him to preserve the moment in my memory forever. I gently lifted his eyelids, and for the first and last time, our eyes met.

I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are
All I can feel

You fallen into my arms
Crying for the death of your heart
You were stone white
So delicate
Lost in the cold
You were always so lost in the dark
You how you used to be
Slow drowned
You were angels
So much more than everything
Hold for the last time then slip away quietly
Open my eyes
But I never see anything

If only I'd thought of the right words
I could have held on to your heart
If only I'd thought of the right words
I wouldn't be breaking apart
All my pictures of you

Looking so long at these pictures of you
But I never hold on to your heart
Looking so long for the words to be true
But always just breaking apart
My pictures of you

There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to feel you deep in my heart
There was nothing in the world
That I ever wanted more
Than to never feel the breaking apart
All my pictures of you

Note: I won't post Wiley's pictures here, but if you want to see him, his website is here


Ruth Chowdhury said...

Chelsea, I don't even know what to say. I miss Wiley & I never even had the privilege of meeting him. You are such a great writer & it was like I was there listening to you describe what he looked & felt like. You're an amazing person. I love you.

Emily (Abby's Mommy) said...

Oh Chelsea, I know this was probably the hardest of all your blogs to write. I am sitting here in full tears imagining you holding and kissing Wiley goodbye for the last time. My heart hurts for you. I am so impressed with your family and the way they rallied around you. And I, too, felt like I was there in the room as you described it in such great detail. I love you and I am so proud to be your friend. Missing Abby and Wiley always ...