I held my son last night. Held and rocked his cold body. He felt no colder than had we taken a wake and the breeze was blowing on his face.
In the minutes before going down to see him, I was so scared. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see him … completely lifeless. But I had to try. If I gave up, I was afraid of never forgiving myself.
We made the long walk down to the third floor, winding through hallways and corridors. We walked into the recovery room and into a side room. There was Annette, the Donor Network Coordinator. She was standing alone in a low lit room, holding my pale, lifeless child. What an amazing woman … to hold him. She was swaying side to side and greeted us with a smile.
Pastor was right, the fear of seeing him evaporated at the first sight of him. I walked directly to Annette and took Owen into my arms. I sat in the corner in a rocking chair and took off the goofy hat they had on his head. His hair would have been red. He was wrapped in his baptismal blanket. Given to the Lord for the second time.
Pastor read a book about a child’s first conversation with God — from the womb til death. I listened at first but zoned out into my own world. Just me and Owen again. Gazing at his face, talking with him as if he were sleeping. Rubbing his hair and holding him close to my chest. I felt like I could talk to him freely now that the battle had been fought.
I cried. It felt good to cry … I didn’t want the tears to stop. I want to cry every second for the next days … let all the hurt and pain out so I don’t have to feel it. Like turning on the faucet to get rid of the rust in the pipes. Run the water long enough, the water will run clear again.
I couldn’t help but think of how he was empty. I tried to see if he felt lighter. Was careful not to squeeze him too tight for fear he would collapse.
Reality set in. Not only has his heart stopped, but it’s missing from his chest. No miracle or act of God could save my Owen. This was irreversible. The finger of God would not be pointing down on Owen and granting him a miracle. I mean I knew he wasn’t coming back. I believed that with all of my being. But once I hold him without his heart, I was changed. It was the first final statement that I had to accept. It made me want to panic … to try to undo all that had happened over the past week. He was really, truly gone
I now live in denial.
While in the room, Doug and I took turns being strong and weak. He held me up when I wanted to crumble. Soon it was time. It was late and time for Owen to go to rest. Doug reached for the door to call a nurse as he wasn’t sure how to work the sides of the crib (how to pull them up). I looked at him … Doug, we can just lay him down, he’s not going to roll over and out of bed. A first of many thoughts that we will catch ourselves in.
Then we went home with our families. The night had come to a close. It was beautiful. It was sad. It was an end.