Monday, March 16, 2009

The Lost

A red moon, huge and swollen, hung over the horizon as my little silver car wove past trucks on the 401 East as I droned on towards Kingston, seeking sleep and solace. The highway hummed but it was down to three lanes, my hands relaxed on the wheel for having left the whirling rush of Toronto and the weekend traffic behind me. The radio was off, so I could hear myself inside my head. The dark was wrapping itself tightly around me, and I was warm, and felt incredibly full of love from the day that had passed. But my heart wept, it wept.

I looked at that moon and I wished that my cousins could see it, my cousins whose baby slipped away from them last Wednesday in the earliest hours of the morning, as they slept next to him wishing for just one more day. I wished that they could see this fiery ball, this amazing, magnificent, absolutely collosal moon rising over the eastern sky on the evening of the day that they had formally said goodbye to Andrew, because if they could have seen it, it would have been their first of many signs that he would never leave.

Through their whole ordeal, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there was not one single day where I did not think of them and hope with all of my being that their child would live. And I like to believe that I did this differently from the way other people did, because other people did it because they did not want him to die, and while I (obviously) also did not want him to die, I also squirmed in anguish at the knowledge of what it would feel like for them if he did. Not only did I want the baby to live because he was beautiful and loved and had this amazing fortunate future ahead of him, not only did I want him to live because his parents and his sisters adored him along with hundreds of other people, not only did I want him to live because he deserved to, but I also actively just wanted so desparately for his parents to be spared the agony of his loss.

But it was not to be so.

Today is Monday, and I am imagining this as the day that they are bringing their little girls to school and suddenly realizing that it is over, it is over, and that the pieces have been picked up for the most part and now they have to do.... what? Where to begin? The settling in of everything being gone, of the new life beginning, is the most dreadful acceptance to come. The reluctant, resisting thought of I do not want this life, I do not want this to be me that they have been struggling with for seven months now has come to a new level, because action is over. No longer can they fight this life with conversations with doctors, new procedures and treatments, with perfectly synchronized schedules that provided their sweet Andrew, for the 201 days that he was at Sick Kids, with a loving caregiver at his side for all but eight hours of his stay. Just to give you a fraction to symbolize this, Andrew was alone at the hospital for only eight out of 4,824 hours, which is one six-hundred-and-third of his stay. Or approximately .16583% of his time there. This is some amazing work on the part of two parents who also managed to eat dinner as a family with their two little girls almost every night of the week during their whole ordeal.

But today? They eat dinner together and tuck their girls in and there is nothing left to do, and this is where suddenly now I do feel like I have much in common with them, particularly the mother, because I can feel the iron vise closing on her heart, the absolute ache and deep stabbing pain that brings you to your knees and rocks you to the core of who you are, because you made something that you loved harder than anything and somehow you couldn't keep that baby here. I can feel that ache in the middle of my body which persisted long after all remnants of childbirth were gone, that searing fire that told me my heart would never be whole again. I can hear fragments of others' laughter, of mothers conversations around me with the ears of the grieving, in a place where the mundane can seem unbearable in the face of the insurmountable tasks that lie ahead.

I want to write that mother a letter that is a thousand pages long, I want to try to tell her that if she lies for seven hours on her face and cries until her voice is hoarse and she can barely open her eyes that someone else has done that before. I want her to know that when she cries in the grocery store or wants to sideswipe a good friend who makes an insensitive comment or if she is hurt by somebody close to her that somebody else has been there.
There is too much to tell. Where would you begin?


Sara said...

Carol, this brings me back to those early disoriented, disbelieving days. Where to start? Why not with what you've written here. Not a 1000 page letter--too much to digest. A series of letters. One reminding them that as the world seems to move on, that you have not forgotten. One telling them that when the world expects them to have moved on, that they are fine being wherever they are, feeling whatever they are feeling. Many telling them what you remember of Andrew, of them with him. One telling them, as you said in this place at another time, "While much has indeed been lost, all is not lost. There will be reprieve from the sadness, and there will be rebuilding. Life will bring you promise some day." But perhaps that last not right away. To begin, simply I ache, I weep for you, with you.

Meg said...

Carol, I am so, so sorry. My heart is with that family. And with you.

I think that Sara has said exactly the right things. A series of letters to let her know that you haven't forgotten sweet Andrew and that their sadness is ok. You will be quite a comfort to them.

mama said...

I sit hear with great big tears and such a heavy heart Carol. Oh this month of's so hard. SO DAMN HARD! And now, this, poor sweet little baby Andrew. I can feel that seering pain that I felt the moment I knew Birdie had died, as I sit here I am feeling it, and I can't stand that your cousins having to know this pain, this trauma of the heart and soul.

I agree with Sara, a series of letters...this would be a beautiful sentiment.

I would love to write them, to express my sympathies...if you would allow me the honor.


Shannon said...

I'm so sorry, Carol.


Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

This is just beautiful. I found myself agreeing with every word. I think the worst part of grieving is the inescapable feeling that I can't DO anything. I'm just stuck. I can't bring E back. I can't fix this, although I pretend I can.

Hope's Mama said...

Carol - I was driving home tonight thinking to myself "I have not heard from Carol in a few days, I wonder how little baby Andrew is". I'm just so devastated to read this, knowing another woman, another mother now knows this pain. All so horribly unfair. I will never understand why this keeps happening.
Your heart is so full of love Carol and I agree with the others on the series of letters.

Heather said...

This is just heartbreaking.

Like a PP, I agree that you brought me right back to the early days, when the "what now" seemed endless, when life seemed purposeless.

I am sending love to that family and hope they find some peace in all this agony.

njt said...

Sadness and heartache. Sweet little Andrew.....

xo Rika

Jen said...

I am so sad to hear of the loss of baby Andrew. I was just wondering about him. My heart is very heavy for your cousins and everyone in Andrew's circle.

Charlotte's Mama said...

I am sorry too, but not for myself. The grief is not mine here, it's not mine. It is all theirs. And I only grieve that they must grieve. It is so sad for them. I am the onlooker, the observer this time.

Cara said...

Yes Carol - you are the onlooker, but the one who really does get it, who won't treat her any differently and who will love as freely in death as you did in life.

That means everything. xoxo

Aimee said...

You know what I feel? As a mom who has been there? I feel a lot of guilt. A LOT of guilt...know why? Because all of us are going about our daily lives. I remember how much that hurt. I remember waking in the hospital bed with tubes and stuff coming out of me and hearing laughter in the hallway. LAUGHTER?? Did they not know what I had just lost?? Later as I left the hospital, there were people walking on the sidewalk, driving down the road, getting on the bus...all that stuff. What the hell were they doing?? going to work? Going on a date? Shopping? What was THAT about? My baby was dead!!! Months later, I still felt like that. So now, as your cousin begins the journey that so many of us have travelled and no two of us have travelled in the same way, I feel guilty for getting up tomorrow and going about my day. Perhaps I will laugh, perhaps I will go shopping...I'll make lunch, whatever. But they need to know that I'm torn over these actions. These simply, daily actions. Because I know. I know how much watching other people do that hurts. And I'm sorry. As I hold my new son and marvel at the miracle that he is, I'm completely and utterly at a loss to console anyone who has lost so much.

Send them my blessings...I have nothing else to offer.

Charlotte's Mama said...

It's so amusing how all of us, who have lost babies, feel as if we don't know what to say.

Dalene said...

"I do not want this life, I do not want this to be me". I can't tell you how many times I have thought these words during the past year. What a sweet little boy Andrew is. I ache and cry as I imagine what his family is experiencing right now--because those feelings are all too familiar for me and for all of us.