Before Ewan was born, I had an increasing fear of a list of a million different things that all added up to a big black ball called The Unknown. How bad was his heart? How long would we be in the hospital? How would we be able to make good decisions for him? Would we bring our baby home? How long would surgery take? What if he doesn't make it -- how will I survive?
It made me downright hypertensive.
And then everything happened when we didn't expect it. Instead of being born a week after the due date as I expected, he was born two and a half weeks ahead of it. Instead of having a date and time set for his first surgery, the first surgery was unexpectedly and emergently set when his oxygen saturation levels deteriorated during a routine visit to the cath lab.
There was no time to worry. There was no time to be afraid.
And so as we walked through and waited through all the situations I had dreaded, all the situations that made my blood pressure rise -- I wasn't afraid. Even though things were worse than I had originally feared they would be -- even though by all accounts, I should have been hysterical, I experienced peace. I understood what was happening, and that the increasingly grim updates we received from the surgeons meant I might not take my baby home. The awareness of that could not and did not escape me. But I kept pumping that night, and I kept waiting. Those were the only ways I knew of that I had to mother him in those moments.
And still: peace. Beyond understanding, beyond my ability, straight from the gracious hand of God to my heart and mind. Right in the eye of the storm, it was there: underneath and all around me.
I stared my worst fear in the face. I walked through the very experience that not all that long ago, I feared more desperately than anything else. And instead of running away screaming, I was able to embrace it -- not because I was strong (because I most definitely was not) and not because I was blissfully unaware (because I knew his body was failing him). It was because in that moment, God gave me the very things I needed: peace to protect my heart and comfort my family, and the ability to do the impossible -- in the very moments that could have been pervaded by fear and resistance, to live in the grace given so we could say goodbye to my son in peace, surrounded by love, and embraced until his very last breath and very last heartbeat.
It was our gift to him, and his gift to us.
This is how Ewan taught me not to be afraid. No matter how large and looming and terrible the unknown may be, there is something bigger. There is grace larger than our fears, peace that is stronger than hysteria, and love big enough to stare down death.
It hardly needs to be said that sadness and grief remain -- and how could they not? I don't expect that my tears will cease any time soon. I imagine that I will continue to weep spontaneously in the check out line at the grocery store, or when picking out clothes to wear. When seeing a healthy baby boy in the elevator or a pregnant woman at work. But I won't be afraid, even of that. The love God gave us in Ewan is bigger than all of it.
I love you, dear sweet boy.