|4 days old (click to view larger image)|
The first thing that came to mind when we knew we had to say goodbye to Ewan was those big blue eyes. I count it amongst the things I miss the most about him. The way he looked at me like he did in the photo above, in the moment he was born, and every time he was awake when I was in the room. He looked at me with such knowing and soulful eyes. His gaze didn't wander or scan the room -- he looked at me, just like that.
A blogging friend I've never met wrote a tribute to Ewan. As I looked back at the comments yesterday, one reader wrote: "I keep coming back to this post to offer words of comfort, but all I can do is look at his eyes. The entire world, with all the joy and all the sorrow, is in those eyes."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Yesterday as James and I were out running the odd errand or two (which included a run to Starbucks), I remembered something I had in mind early in my pregnancy before we ever found out about Ewan's heart. Every spring, there's a tulip festival near where we live. There are fields after fields of every color and variety of tulip you could imagine. It's a popular place for family and engagement pictures. In my mind's eye, I could see the three of us hunching down in between the rows together. I could see Ewan wearing some miniature jeans and a colorful knit striped hoodie sweater I bought for him. I could see him smiling and squinting against the sun. I could see us smiling too.
I'm really going to miss that. I miss it for us already. And I know there are going to be more things -- secret and unspoken plans I made for us that I will remember at the time they should have happened, and I will grieve for them. I will wonder again why he is gone.
Even before he was conceived, I wanted that baby boy so much. I delighted in him before I knew him. Even when we found out about his heart and how severe his condition was, we held such hope for him. And now I am a mother with no child to hold or to care for. It feels so oddly disconcerting -- I look the same, and in a very superficial sense, our lives will look the same as they did before Ewan was conceived. But everything has changed. I still feel like I should have him as near to me as ever. It feels as though there should be something visible, something physical that points to what someone called the "invisible, gaping wound" I carry within me now.
At the end of his earthly life, it was evident to us all that his body was simply not meant to sustain life on this earth. There is no question about if the doctors could have done more, or if we could have fought harder for him. We had reached the end of any medical hope for him, and so we opened ourselves to receive the grace we needed to say goodbye to our son. As hard as it is to say, he just was not meant to stay here for very long.
Even in these early days of grief, where the tears are hot and stinging, where they come so freely and without warning, and where the sadness is thick and heavy around me, there is some comfort in knowing that in heaven, Ewan is more alive than ever. He is counted amongst the communion of saints. That he not only lives, but can intercede for us, that he can advocate for our healing as we did for his.
I keep wondering how our story would have been different if Ewan hadn't had a broken heart. Nobody would know who we are, and so many of the people who fell in love with him -- whether from near or far -- would not have had the chance to know and love him, to experience miracles in their own hearts because of him. I won't lie -- there are days where I would gladly trade all the good that has come from this just to have him here with us, where I would exchange the lessons learned so we could know what it is to be a family.
I am going to weep for the loss of him here with us for a long, long time. But even in those darker moments, I do rejoice in knowing that our boy with the broken heart impacted so many others. And while my arms will continue to ache with the emptiness that comes because he is not here, sometimes it is good to know that because of him, the arms of other mothers and fathers are clinging to their children a little tighter and a little longer. I think that is just one of his gifts to us.