Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Hold My Hand

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When you experience a traumatic birth it never goes away.  It's the yucky gift that keeps on giving.  The one you wish you could either return or say you never wanted, yet it's just there.  Lingering, like this permeating scent that infiltrates your soul.  There are things that just bring you back to that moment.  It can be a hospital setting, it can be a familiar smell, it can be a memory of a stuffed animal, a picture, an old blog.  It can be thousands of things or just one single thing all at the same time.   While I'm waiting for Noah to wind down which takes hours - and by hours I mean I can sometimes be up all night, I often fill my moments with reading and television programming to keep me alert while I tend to his needs at night.  I latch on to a variety of shows, Netflix documentaries, and movies to keep my mind engaged so I don't fall asleep until he's done needing me.  

It's Tuesday.  Tuesdays are This is Us.  I kind of had this gut feeling, or inclination when Kate, one of the main characters got pregnant that it wouldn't be a smooth sailing birth or even one that leaves her child with disabilities.  The show is really about continuous life hardships without that glossy happy ending that so many people crave.  I know what it's like not to have a happy ending, so I often gravitate towards things that feel real, authentic and far from sugar coated.   Tonight was the night I anticipated - the birth of Kate's baby and one that wasn't going to be the great happy ending.
Chris came into the bedroom to help me fold towels that I left in a basket half way through the episode.  He sensed that I was tired and worn and took it upon himself to fold while I laid curled in a heap of pillows hiding tears welling up in my eyes.  He glanced at me and utter those words "what's wrong" before he looked up and realized that I was watching something difficult to absorb and digest.  He walked around the other side of the bed to me, bent down to hug me, wiped mascara that had smeared through a handful of tears that had escaped, and stood back up and just stayed by my side holding my hand for the entire last half hour of the show.
And I could feel the emotion through his hand.  It bothered him too.  We were both there.  And it's unique to both of us having fought through a very scary birth, emergency c-section, and one that literally left Noah and I in critical condition, and ultimately severely disabled for the rest of his life.  So when you see a story line that eerily mimics what we experienced it takes us both back to that moment that we so desperately wish we could change.

And sometimes a show can get it super close to what it's all really like; the family dynamic, the waiting room agitation, the lack of information about what is happening to your loved ones, waiting for news that isn't timely, right down to having your own memory association with familiar places and things that take you back to your own personal tragedies.  The stunned husband trying to deliver the news, both a mixture of relief that both survived, but conveying the news that things are problematic.

Chris is always so stoic, he's just this beautiful rock and has been our entire marriage.  The greatest man I've ever known.  He's strong, and comforting, and understanding that we're going to live with these feeling for a lifetime, and he offers such grace about that fact.  We will to some degree always be 'walking wounded parents'.  And we're okay with that.  We don't ever try to hide or disguise that these feelings will creep up on you from time to time.  And I'm comforted in knowing we're both feeling the same things.  It's ours alone, and something we carry together.  And through the underlying sadness of what happened to Noah has solidified us in the most indescribable of ways.

I'm grateful that he holds my hands through the sad parts, whenever they may hit.  Sometimes, these feelings can happen to you out of the blue, sometimes you can kind of anticipate them.  But we're together in it - whenever it does.  Story lines that you could have written yourself sometimes prove to be a bit hard to swallow sometimes.  I think perhaps in an odd sort of way it's cathartic or therapeutic.  It feels a touch like purging a bit of stored up feelings each time.  A sense of relating, empathizing, and knowing the journey.  It's not an easy one for anyone that has been through it.  We're in this permanent club that no one ever wants to be in.

Our love is so strong because we've been through the worst of the worst and have faced so many challenges throughout the years with Noah, and we both are in it together.  Holding each other's hand as each of us remembers from time to time.

"What cannot be said will be wept"


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Miracle in Heaven (A Letter to Noah)

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Dear Noah,

We learned today that your the man that came to your bedside when you were removed from life support as a baby and the one who played a huge role in your miracle went to heaven on February 16th.  Your father and I are still trying to absorb this news. There are a lot of feelings for us, because in our hearts and soul we know that you likely wouldn't be here had it not been for Bill.  All of us in that room witnessed a miracle.  You went from imminent death instantly to breathing on your own and your oxygen saturation coming up within seconds of him placing his hands on your tiny foot and praying.  There was no scientific or medical explanation for your why you didn't go to heaven.  It was also impossible for a stranger to get into the NICU without being on any approved list.  Yet, here he was this man named Bill who said he was sent to pray for you.  No one even knew we were taking you off life support.  We told no one, not even our families of the time we'd were going to do it.  Only God knew.  And he sent you the most beautiful miracle in the form of this stranger, named Bill.  He held your foot and you looked up at him and held his wooden cross.  Even though to this day you cannot hold anything in your hands, you were always able to hold onto that wooden cross around his neck. 

Bill was one of those very special beautiful souls.  He just was so authentic in his faith, and radiated with goodness.  And he believed in you so much right from the very start that he gifted us with the prayer of healing. I know there are people who can never understand the gravity of what we witnessed happen. You would have had to have been there to see it.  But your dad and I know without question that you wouldn't be here today without him. 

We've decided not to tell you about Bill's passing.  Not because we want to keep things from you, but because we know that the heartbreaking pout we'd see in your face, and the said deep sorrowful wail that only you know how to deliver in moments of your own sadness.  And for me, I suppose in some way, I worry that the knowledge of his passing may have some effect on your drive to continue thriving, as odd as that may sound because the two of you were uniquely connected.

It's been several years since we last seen Bill, he fell ill with cancer, and our lives were filled with days of therapies, appointments and challenges.  Although I knew that Bill had fallen ill, I was in denial that he wasn't ever going to fully recover or get better.  After all how would it ever be possible that God would call an earthly angel home?  I kept reassuring myself that Bill had more work to do here, and that he'd surely make it to 100.  Bill died, just days before his 80th birthday.  I feel deep regret that I didn't work harder to get you to see him one last time while he was sick.  And I'm sorry for that Noah.  He loved you so much.  He'd make your picture a screen saver on his computer, he created a prayer line in your name, where thousands of people all over the world would write in to noahprayerline1@comcast.net and hundreds of people poured into prayer all on behalf your namesake and the miracle of life you had been given.  He was always there for our family, he offered spiritual words of encouragement, enlightenment on the hard days,  and always the power of prayer.

Bill was so devoted that he was also there the day that your little brother was born he stayed countless hours while I was in labor.  I think deep down he wanted so badly to protect your little brother in the same way that he did you and to see both of you into this world to live and be well.  Luke's birth had it's own set of complications and I just remember him saying that things would be fine.  And I felt this divine reassurance that we'd all be okay.  And although Luke never had the same connection you did to Bill, I know that he cared for you both very much.  It just feels so surreal.  I know that Bill has to be up there checking in on you.  How could he not be? So we're going to just keep operating on that, as if Bill is still around.  Because I can't bear the thought of you knowing of his passing.  Someday when the time is right your blog will belong to you and you'll know.  I'm sure he's not far away from you.  You were always a pretty big deal to him and I know even beyond this earth still remain so. 

In Loving Memory of Bill Gilbert - The man who forever touched your life with a miracle.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.