Weary & Burdened Ep. 021: After Many Days
In 2012, after David’s memorial, my blog writing became sporadic. I thought the story was over. On occasion I would update it to connect with those who’d become invested in the story.
Longer and longer periods of time would pass between posts but to my surprise the story never ended. It continues still. It’s different for sure and morphs while healing occurs.
Thirty days seemed like an eternity then. A whole month without David.
Loneliness started to set in. People can’t provide the same level of support for a sustained period of time. Over time you’re forced to traverse the path with less hands to hold you up.
The story doesn’t end because there’s nobody there to listen. Even if David had died and our NICU experience was over. With each day, I learned a lot about myself and about grief. What I experienced during that time was just another part of our story. And, God willing, hopefully many more days will pass and the story will continue to evolve.
We won't ever know the true impact of David's story. How far or who it will reach. We'll never know the depth and imprints his life made on others. No matter the length of time, another layer of not knowing, brings with it a sting. An ache. An uneasiness. Because you want the story to mean something. No life should ever be in vain.
As time passed I thought things would get easier. I thought time would numb the pain and life would somehow become more normal. In a way it did. I took the girls to school, hung out with Josh and did the stuff I did before David was born. While I did those things, I looked through a different lens at life. A life that is not quite clear. My vision was muddied by tears. My thoughts foggy with the constant buzzing of what life could have been like if only David was still alive.
When you miss someone, the longer they’re away, the harder it is and the more you miss them. That's how it is for me. During the months since David’s passing, I cried everyday and everyday I thought of him, remembering the moments I spent with him in the hospital.
In our living room we have an entertainment center which houses our TV with shelving at the top. I placed a picture of David beside a picture of Reuben's late mother. I put candles beside each picture and light the candles everyday and let them burn during our waking hours. Beside David's picture and candle are beautiful wooden statues I received as gifts. In front of David's picture sits his urn. It's my remembering spot. A small portion of our home dedicated to honouring and celebrating him.
The remembering spot allows me to reflect on a variety of things, including on the blood clotting disorder I was found to have. It isn’t extremely dangerous but causes preterm birth because of clotting in the placenta. The likely reason for David's prematurity. I think knowing helps so many people. Not me. I found it rather devastating because to prevent the clotting one needs only take a baby aspirin daily for the first trimester of pregnancy. Such a measly thing. So easy. Yet there was no way for me or anyone to know. Finding out this information rocked my world. I was incapacitated. I sat outside my doctor's office in my van sobbing. One tiny aspirin a day and David’s life could have been drastically different.
I didn’t feel guilty. I had no control over how my blood clots. I didn’t blame my doctors as they had no reason to expect such a thing. Reuben pointed out it was difficult to hear because the fix was simple.
I have since learned (thanks to Criminal Minds), humans have a natural bias to match the size and severity of consequence to their causes. Meaning when something results in tragedy, we’re naturally inclined to believe the cause of such an event must match and be large and catastrophic. When that’s not the case, it can be hard to believe and a shock the system. It leaves our world feeling less predictable.
After a long and difficult day pondering over this development, I came to my own conclusion that has helped me cope. I truly believe our birth and death date are set. No matter what, David was meant to die on January 4th, 2012 - aspirin or not. What I’m grateful for is he was born when he was because he wasn't due until February 16th. We got 68 days with him. A special gift from God as he knew when David was going to pass. Thinking this way doesn't help everyone but it helped me. I don't miss him any less because of it but it did help me get out of bed in the morning when I'd rather not face a world without my sweet son.
During this time I had a goal for my grief which was to remember David with happiness as opposed to sadness. Instead of the anguish I felt, I hoped to one day feel thankfulness and joy. I hoped my chaotic and busy mind would become peaceful. I wanted to turn my grief into something positive. It was motivation to be and do something excellent in David's honour and memory.
I knew my goal wasn’t an immediate possibility. It was something off in the distance. At that particular time, all I wanted was to feel sad. For some reason I wanted to feel the pain. Feeling bad helped. That may seem weird to hear but I didn’t want someone to make me feel better. I didn’t want to be consoled. I wanted to miss David and cry.
In the midst of my sadness or what I called, "the missing" (the stage of missing David so unbelievably much) I continued to believe in miracles because I saw them. I saw babies going home from the NICU, babies being born perfectly healthy and I heard of great things my friends were doing with their babies post-NICU. I was so glad they got their miracles.
Why didn't I get mine? I prayed for a miracle. In fact, I begged for one. I distinctly remember getting on my knees and bargaining with God that I would do anything if he'd just give me my miracle. So why didn't I get mine? Well I think in a way I did. David was a miracle and he overcame so many things he wasn't expected to. While watching TV my miracle question was answered. I won't go into detail here but I did find peace in that area. Although I didn't get my miracle in the way I wanted it I can say I'm grateful many people around me experienced theirs. I hope they truly appreciate and rejoice in the fact they were fortunate enough to receive such a special gift.
There’s one thing still nagging at me to this day. Our doctor "friend." I really wanted David to prove her wrong. I wanted him to show her she was wrong about David and our family. Maybe it's just my competitive side but I wanted to visit her years down the road and say, "Na, na, na, na, na. You should’ve had faith." It bugs me we can't do that. Not just because I wanted to be right (even though that would mean David was still here with us and I want that more than anything) but I wanted it because I think it would have changed her and how she views others and the possibilities which exist in our littlest babies. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe David did teach her something. Maybe our family did too and we just don't know it. I hope so! I hope she sees the next little "David" with potential and hope. I hope she encourages the parents and supports their fighting spirit. I hope the fear and anxiety she displayed in our case is exchanged with positivity and support. But we'll never know if she's changed. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Somewhere deep inside I think that if anyone could have changed her mind, David could have. He was just that kind of baby.