I should have seen it coming. I should have expected that going into the hospital for Moise's EEG yesterday would bring back memories. I should have, but I didn't. It never even crossed my mind. The memories came unbidden and unexpected. They were a combination of horrid and beautiful memories. They took my breath away and left me feeling weak and heavy hearted, as though my spirit writhes within me from the endless pain.
Needless to say, having gone most of the night without sleep, I was exhausted as Moise and I made our way to the hopital. The morning was a bit of a struggle as I tried to keep him awake. I had him in the front passenger seat so that I could keep him from falling asleep during the 20 minute drive. As I rounded the curving street that goes toward the parking deck the Emergency Department with it's large red lettered EMERGENCY came into clear view. My heart pounded and my throat tightened as I memories flooded me. I'd been there before. I had run beheath those large red letters, through the sliding doors, behind stretchers carrying, first Moise and then Jalayne. Both of those times I knew that the life of my child was, at the very best, uncertain. With Moise, the outcome was good, he took another breath and then another and one day he came back home. With Jalayne, the outcome was every parent's worst nightmare. She never took another breath and I walked out those same doors, under that same red sign, without my daughter. Just beyond those red letters is the place where I went from being just a mother, to mother of a dead child. It was there, beyond the red letters, that this thing called grief became a permanent part of our life.
My legs were heavy, my breathing labored, my senses heightened as I walked down the long familiar corridor to the hospital. Again, I remembered. I remembered the seemingly endless trips to be by Moise's side as he fought so hard to survive. There, on a window ledge, was the spot where Jim and I filled our minister in on the truth, that there wasn't much hope for Moise. And there, down that hall was the room where Steve prayed for our son. I remembered carrying my sweet little boy into and then back out of that place too many times to count. My mind went back to the day I carried a beautiful newborn girl with almond shaped eyes, floppy ears and straight lines across her palm, swaddled in pink blankets, down the hall and out of that hospital. I recalled the relief at carrying that same child out again, this time with the addition of a pacemaker in her tiny beating heart. With aching heart, I knew the beauty of "I'm taking my baby home" and the horror of "my baby is gone".
The day before Moise's EEG, someone called to pre-register him. As she hung up she gave me directions to where I needed to go. "Take these elevators to the sixth floor and we are on the left." I mentally filed the information away with the thought that I've been there before. I never stopped to consider why had been to this particular part of the hospital. That is, until the moment when the elevator doors slid open. My heart slammed in my chest cavity upon seeing the dark blue carpet. I knew, without really knowing, that around the corner would be a large fish tank with bright orange fish. Yes, I'd been here one other time, for Laynee's hearing evaluation.
That day is not a day that I would have thought was stored in the pages of my memory. I never thought about it again, not when she was alive, and not since she died. But the memories came with such vivid clarity that they seemed to suck the air from my lungs. I could see her in my mind, black leggings, red and white top, shiny little black shoes. I even remember the tiny red earrings sparkling in her ears. She was enthralled with the fish and it was there, on that day, that I taught her the sign for "fish." There was an older woman sitting in the chairs across from us who was completely dazzled by my little girl and her cheerful ways. She laughed at how Laynee lifted her leg straight up in the air (as only a child with Down Syndrome could) to climb onto the chair next to the old woman. Laynee sailed through her hearing test and as we left the audiologist stood at the end of the hall while Laynee smiled and waved at her until she was out of sight. The memories, though stunningly beautiful, washed over me like mighty waves as I struggled for composure. The tears threatend but I fought them back. Not here, not now. I reigned in my emotions, folding them carefully and tucking them away as I remember my mother folding her finest linen tablecloths, neatly, carefully and out of sight, brought out only at appropriate times.
I laid beside Moise as he slept through his EEG and the memories kept coming to mind. He smelled like I remember both he and Laynee smelling in the hospital. I was shocked by how clear these memories that I had forgotten were. Once again, I found myself in that place where pain defies explanation. I held my son close and ached for my daughter. All the while there was one thought that seemed to scream inside my head. It's the thought that has gone, like a mantra, through my head for more than two years. I WANT MY BABY BACK!!!!!!
CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.