Feb 27, 2010

His Quiet Presence

Has it really been almost a year since I last posted? I apologize... It takes a lot of strength - and overcoming reluctance - for me to sit, and think back to 2006 and remember. The details really do slip away... In the words of Anne Blythe (Anne of Green Gables, when her firstborn daughter Joyce died) "It's knowing that someday this won't hurt as much that is the hardest". It's true, someday, it won't hurt as much. And thinking back to my stunned pain, compared to the secret breathtaking regret I try to smile through today, I never thought I would get through the day without borrowing a tissue.

Actually, in all honesty, I'm not a crier. I perform marvelously in front of people. I don't do it on purpose though...I try to be honest in all aspects of my life. But there's something about a crowd of people that dries my tears and nudges me towards a smile, no matter how in-genuine it may feel. I think deep-down that I'm loathe to bring people - even close friends - down to my level of despair. I know what it feels like to be without the words to comfort, and I hate to impose that on anyone. It's unfair of me, in a way, to rob my friends and family of the opportunity to comfort, but truly, I always find it myself. I reach out for God, and eventually, in His subtle nature and in the slightest of whispers, He answers and calms me.

I had a wonderful childhood, truly. We were "middle-class" and I was homeschooled by my stay-at-home mother. It wasn't without its scars, of course. When I was nine, we adopted family of four children. They came with their set of problems that disrupted the comfortable household lifestyle considerably for the next nine years of my life. There were circumstances that would have shaken the core of a weaker child, and destroyed her self-esteem and confidence for life. But God, as usual, knew what He was doing, and walked me through each turbulence. I still reflect on my childhood as wonderful, and I am grateful for the disruption in the "perfection", because I know I would not be as strong without it.

On the Thursday after losing my son, I nearly gnawed my knuckles to shreds. (Heh, sounds like I'm trying to make an alliteration...) I had to go home that day, and while getting out of the hospital should have been a cheering thought, I was filled with dread. Leaving the hospital meant getting on with my life. It meant acknowledging this really happened. I procrastinated as best I could without aggravating my husband. Ty was anxious to get home. He was already stressed out and vexed that we'd been in the hospital as long as we had, and would have dragged me home if he could have carried my still-bloated frame. I dallied in the bathroom, fussing over washing up. I pilfered sanitary pads and those fishnet undies anything else I thought I wouldn't get in trouble for taking. Finally, when I could linger no longer, I resigned myself to the customary wheelchair ride out, cringing and avoiding stares as we rolled past the lobby. My face flushed pink, which is unusual for me, and I felt hotly embarrassed to be leaving the hospital with only a dumb stuffed teddy bear in my lap. Ty helped me into the car, and I swallowed my tears of mortification. The pain from my incision helped distract me, as I could barely climb into our SUV without crying out. I don't remember the drive home at all. I imagine it was without much conversation. We never envisioned ourselves driving home from the hospital in the first place, due to planning a home birth. But now that we were on our way home, sans baby, I am sure neither of us much needed to spell out the irony.

When we got home, I was wrapped in love, almost literally. Our Bible Study group had gathered at our home to decorate the interior with balloons and a huge sign that spanned the windows saying, "We love you Chelsea". My eyes well up to even remember it. To walk in to a festive atmosphere that was carefully adorned with love was exactly what I needed. To know that despite what was surely new territory for this young group of friends, they were thinking of me and doing their best, was like gauze on my wound. It still stung, but it was instrumental in healing.

The next day, Friday, we buried Wiley. We decided not to have a viewing or anything like that since we had had an autopsy. I tried then and try not to now really think about what he might have looked like after that. So we decided, numbly, just to have a small family gathering around the gravesite. Driving up to the cemetery was the longest car ride of my life. It felt completely surreal, I couldn't really wrap my head around what we were doing. When we arrived, his tiny casket was sealed tight and setting atop boards covered in green carpet covering the tiny hole. I noticed, with some pity towards the gravediggers, or whatever they're called nowadays, the dirt previously occupying the hole mounded up on the other side of the road. It must bruise even the most dissensitized of hearts to have to dig such a small hole for such a purpose. It was a small gathering of family. Only our immediate family, really, with grandparents and one or two aunts and uncles. I can't even remember who all was there, to be honest. My parents arranged for the deacon from their church to preside, and he spoke briefly and honestly. He knew me from when I was a small girl, and I imagine it killed off small pieces of him to speak over my son's funeral. When he closed, Ty stood up, and with a shaking voice and on bended knee with his hand on Wiley's casket, he prayed out loud. He prayed for the son he would never meet on this earth, for his soul, for our understanding, and for God's sweet mercy to help us through this. It was simple and beautiful, and stimulated a round of tissues for everyone. When he said "Amen.", my aunt released a dove she brought. The dove circled around us, and took off joyfully towards the south. Someone, my brother I think, quipped, "I guess Heaven is that way!" We all chuckled, grateful for the chance to do so. A friend of my dad's who had arrived without notice sang "Oh Danny Boy" in a low, emotional baritone and then just as quietly left. The whole ceremony was beautiful and very peaceful, without any pretense or format. As we were all leaving, a pure white butterfly circled around my head and landed on my hip. Ty, my mother and I watched it with concentration until it flew away. None of us said a word.