|Remembering: I was there.|
As a first-time mom, I expected to go late into my pregnancy. I honestly believed Ewan would stay content in my belly until 41 weeks or so. But then he came a bit early, shortly after my pregnancy had just passed the 37-week mark at which I was considered term. He did things in his own time, just as we expected. The same with his emergency surgery. While in the cath lab for a routine procedure, things deteriorated to the point where he needed surgery immediately. There would not be the benefit of a predetermined plan developed between surgeons and cardiologists. And so came the long night I will never forget: increasingly hopeless updates and then ... he was out of surgery and alive. He was on ECMO, but all things considered, doing okay.
Every day in the hospital with Ewan was one in which we were discussing with doctors and surgeons options for treatment. Every day we were making decisions that had to do -- quite literally -- with life or death. There were multiple victories and multiple setbacks. We rode the roller coaster that is well known to any parent that has a child in the ICU. We went into every day deprived of sleep. We went into every day knowing it would be intense and demanding.
And then came the day we knew we needed to let him go. Another long night, but one marked by peace and the love of family and caregivers. We went at our own pace. For once, we were able to take the time we wanted. There was no rush.
Ewan died on October 4 -- a full day before his due date. I had been so fixated on going a week past the due date and he was gone before it.
We were there. We saw it happen. We planned the funeral, saw his body in the casket. We were there when it was lowered into the ground. I watched as James and his dad and mine each shoveled dirt into the hole where he was buried. I put the spray of flowers from his casket on top of the grave when they were done. I kept telling myself: This is real, this is really happening.
But there have been so many times over the past three weeks where none of it has felt the least bit real. There is something about the experience that has all the qualities of a very vivid and terrible dream. Were it not for the pictures we took and the dark line that still goes down the center of my belly, there might be times in which I could convince myself that it didn't really happen at all. It could be shock or a side-effect of the grief, or a product of the intensity and pace at which everything happened.
It is so strange, this knowing and not-knowing, these moments of intense awareness and moments of feeling like we are each waking up from a shared nightmare. I look at the calendar and consider what each one of those boxes represent. Each day checked off the calendar means something different here in our apartment than it did in the hallways of the hospital. The notion of "one day at a time" held no meaning for us when we had learned to hang on to minutes. And now days pass in which the minutes pass (for the most part) uneventfully.
What is a minute (or an hour, or a week) anyway? I'm sure I don't know anymore.