12 October 2010

The Things We Will Miss

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.

29 comments:

Mama V said...

Beautiful! Thank you, sweet girl. Funny how I can love someone so much without even knowing them!(Speaking of Ewan and you). <3

Michelle said...

the phrase "invisible, gaping wound" instantly took me back to my memories of the Pentagon shortly after 9/11. you are like that Pentagon.

all my life, i saw that building. and then, suddenly, there was a huge, horrible, gaping hole. at first EVERYONE paid attention - it was obvious it was wounded. and people said prayers, sent donations, and checked back for status updates.

but as time went on, and the walls started to be rebuilt, less people thought about it. surely things were moving forward as those walls were rebuilt! and, finally, the entire side was back together.

but if you look closely, there's one cornerstone which has been left from the original. it is charred, and i've had the opportunity to touch it (don't tell the guards! my uncle snuck me to it after he got us permission to tour the inside & took us outside anyway) and feel that black soot on my hands. it is as real as it was that horrible morning.

driving by, you'd never see it. but if you look closely, it's there, just as black as ever.

that is you.

over time, people will think you are moving on. and in many ways, you will be. but you'll never be the same, and if they bother to look closely, they will see that some small part of you is the same way it was the day your baby boy went to be with God.

i'll be one of those remembering to pray even when it looks like everything's okay, because i know nothing will be the same ever again.

not2brightGRAM said...

The night is always darkest before the dawn. It hurts so much watching you and James travel this road, but I do believe with all my heart that you will see brighter days. The time will come when you will mostly smile (through the tears) remembering your sweet boy. He has changed you forever, but with God as His creator and yours, it is a profound and life-giving change. Your already-kind and compassionate heart has expanded, and many will find shelter there. <3

Anonymous said...

Mama V stole the words from my mouth. I was thinking the same thing...funny how I could love someone that I've never met. I've told several people about your story. I found myself telling them about my "friends" as if I I know you. That has to seem creepy to you. :)

I'm captivated by your story and amazed by your strength. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Danielle said...

Kirsten, again, there are no words other than "I understand". So many hopes and dreams to miss, to grieve. It is so very unfair that the world just continues on, day after day, when it should stop and completely stand still while we grieve our sweet babies. EVERYONE should know of the incredible person the world just lost.

It is so hard not to want to trade all of the good he brought to the world and to the glory of God for even just a few more minutes together. I understand and have spent days wishing for the same. Knowing that other parents are holding their children a little closer and a little longer because of our stories is only a small condolence, knowing that we can't hold ours at all.

Ewan was and is absolutely beautiful and is blessed to have you as his momma. Continuing to lift you up in prayer as you walk through these very dark days. I know it doesn't feel like it right now, but there will be little glimmers of sunshine and hope in the upcoming weeks and months. I can only say that as I am beginning to see them myself, ever so slightly here and there. Much love to you.

Anonymous said...

My cousin passed away at the age of 13. They had always had a family picture taken among tulips (this is in Albany, NY). They still have their family picture taken there every year and my Aunt is always holding a picture of my cousin. 20 years later he is and will always be in every family picture. I know I only picked out a small part of the entire post- but the tulips reminded me of my aunt- and how holding a picture of my cousin made it A LITTLE easier to "dare" and take a family picture when the whole family wasn't there.

melifaif said...

I never feel as if I will say the right thing, especially to a mother who writes so beautifully....but, your entire family is a blessing to us all. You have taught me so much over a small amount of time. I will forever be grateful. I still ache for your loss, but pray everyday for your comfort.

jana said...

Ewan had very knowing and wise eyes. I bet you will find he had them open and alert in almost every picture from birth. Our son died at 24 days old from group b strep and of the 200ish pictures we had of him, his eyes were "knowing and wise" and open in nearly all of them. He was sharing with you all of his love through his eyes. You are going to be an inspiration to so many through your grief. I'm so sorry for your loss and pray for your family daily.

Nadine said...

He is a precious little miracle! A beautiful baby boy!Praying for you.

KLaw said...

Your words carry such an emotion with them and i cannot thank you enough for sharing your precious boy with us. We are the blessed ones because of him. Because of him, we are better. He's an angel

Anonymous said...

Kirsten I would like to believe that Ewan was looking at you so intently so as to memorize your face, so he could have a picture of you imprinted upon his heart until he sees you again in Heaven.

Shannon Egan

hopeannfaith said...

Kirsten,
Again there are no adequate words to convey to you...except for the huge Thanks we owe to you, James and especially Ewan for allowing us into your lives in this manner. You, Kirsten, have taught me a lesson in gratitude and grace that I would not have ever learned elsewhere.
Again, I have to repeat the words of others...Mama V, said it all...I, WE, love you! And prayers continue to be prayed over you day and night.
Love,
Andrea

hopeannfaith said...

Kirsten,
Again there are no adequate words to convey to you...except for the huge Thanks we owe to you, James and especially Ewan for allowing us into your lives in this manner. You, Kirsten, have taught me a lesson in gratitude and grace that I would not have ever learned elsewhere.
Again, I have to repeat the words of others...Mama V, said it all...I, WE, love you! And prayers continue to be prayed over you day and night.
Love,
Andrea

Sweeto said...

oh Kirsten. What a journey. Your words "I delighted in you before I knew you"...is that scripture? seems like how God sees us as His children! Much much love to you and James and all the family. The pictures are beautiful. Thankyou for sharing such a deep part of yourself. I share this story with so many people...and the results are pretty amazing. Ewan, what an amazing blessing to so many.

Kimberley said...

those eyes are what did it for me!! the moment i saw him (even though it was through pictures), i felt this immediate rush of love! he was beautiful beyond words!!

heather said...

I have cried time and time again for you and James, my family in Christ. I've cried for Ewan. I've cried for all who didn't have a chance to meet Ewan (like me). I'm so thankful that this isn't the end, but I know that doesn't erase the pain now. I'm thankful that you can grieve in this and that Christ--and his body--grieves with you. I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for you when you don't know what to pray.

Though we've never met, dear Kirsten, I love you because you are my family. I don't wish I could take the pain away from you, because it wouldn't be right at this time, but I hurt for you and grieve with you.

heather said...

I have cried time and time again for you and James, my family in Christ. I've cried for Ewan. I've cried for all who didn't have a chance to meet Ewan (like me). I'm so thankful that this isn't the end, but I know that doesn't erase the pain now. I'm thankful that you can grieve in this and that Christ--and his body--grieves with you. I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit intercedes for you when you don't know what to pray.

Though we've never met, dear Kirsten, I love you because you are my family. I don't wish I could take the pain away from you, because it wouldn't be right at this time, but I hurt for you and grieve with you.

In this wonderful life... said...

I love him and I can't wait to meet him! It's amazing what these little boys have done to us and so many others. Ewan touched SO many lives!

Everything has changed.

Pictures will always be missing someone :(

christianne said...

The eyes are what did it for me too. He captivated my heart, that boy did, with that long knowing look he always gave you. In those eyes are the love Jesus has for all of us. That moves me so much about Ewan.

I know you would trade everything just to have him near. To be a family. To know what that is like. All those memories that were never given a chance to be made ... I know that ache will go on and on because they are hopes that were never fulfilled.

That idea of Ewan interceding for you in heaven and advocating for your healing in the ways you advocated for his ... that is such a powerful thought, my sister friend. He prays for you, just as you prayed for him. So beautiful.

Much love, sweet girl.

Christianne

JD said...

Beautiful post, I for one, know two little babies that are being held tighter and loved more fully because of the journey you are on.

Nonny Baby said...

Thank you again for sharing your heart with the world. I would not wish the pain you and James and your families have suffered on anyone. As you said, much good has come from Ewan and his broken heart, but that still doesn't take away the furious and intense pain you feel right now, in this moment. I will intercede in prayer on your behalf until your family is united again among the heavenly hosts.

We love you so, so much.

Summer

Sarah said...

You know, I've been praying for you and the things you will miss. I know that I am trying to appreciate even the hard moments with Mirren more because I get to have them, and sometimes I go to Dave crying because I've done something with her that I know you won't get to do with Ewan and it breaks my heart and I pray through the tears. I wish I could give you those back, friend, that you could have that good AND the goods you have now, the goods that have come from this struggle. And I wish there was comfort to offer even when I know there's not. I'm so sorry you have to carry this hurt, that you have to figure out how to wear it and how to hold it. Know that I will hold you up in prayer for a long, long time, that I won't forget those eyes or the mama's heart (nor the daddy's) that loved them first.

Ari said...

I am absolutely speechless, your faith, your love for your son and just your heart and your sharing this story with us all. I have been changed reading your story and I feel blessed. I stand humbled and in awe of your family and your baby son Ewan. I went home yesterday and help my wife and son extra long and cried. again thank you for sharing your grief and hearts with us all. My family is praying for yours.


ps. its hard to see the computer screen through tears.

Gina said...

Every time I see tulips I will think of Ewan and say a prayer to him.

I promise. ;)

felmleyfam said...

when we went to piano lessons today for my son, marcus (6) asked if he could tell his teacher about baby ewan. sure, i said. he shared about him and how the doctors said to terminate the pregnancy, but his parents said no and how good that was, and about little ewans heart and how we are praying for the petermans. on the way home i asked my son what made him think to share about ewan. he said my song mom, it talks about sadness (and when he prays he asks the lord to help the petermans in their grief and mourning). and the words are:
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!
the Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, reminded me of baby ewan. and i thought of your family in the tulip fields all day long. thank you for sharing. praying for you.

Shay said...

your words are always so beautiful, honest, vulnerable, open...thank you for sharing your heart and your lives with us. praying for you, now and always. much love to you!

Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

I wish I could do more than write a blog post, I wish I could do so much more.

We're still clinging tight, sending you all the love in the world.

I have another blog friend, Sheye Rosemeyer, who lost her daughter a couple years ago when she was three. She always wanted to have a tea party with her Ava, but never had the chance, so now for two years running, people all around the world have tea parties and release pink balloons in her memory, as a way of never forgetting that life is never the same, and of always holding tight to the memory of a sweet little girl. My close friend who lost her son never had the chance to take him the beach as she'd dreamed, so now every spring we traipse to the beach, set out a blanket, love our children under the beating sun, among family and friends, as a way of remembering. It's like a lasting legacy - a celebration that is not of life or death, but of love. Maybe going to the tulip festival, or maybe just enjoying tulips, can be something like that for you and James. The love you shared with sweet Ewan in his life and inspire others to continue sharing with their children is worth celebrating, always.

Anonymous said...

Jesus is coming soon to gather all his children into his arms and to our home in heaven. You will be with your lovely little one there and we all be rejoicing at the reunion. Lift your eyes toward heaven, he is just there on the other side. Waiting for Mama, daddy and all the others who love him. In the twinkling of an eye..

Anonymous said...

I found out about Ewan some weeks ago when a friend of mine posted on facebook his immediate need for prayer. It has been a pleasure to read your postings. I have never last a baby as you have. Most never made it far enough to be much more than a large ball of cells. I learned over that time and was reminded of it while reading your posts, that grief, while dealt with individually, is still the same no matter the loss. We both grieve the lost plans and dreams of a child we will never hold, or never hold again.

But your faith and hope in God as you well know WILL get you through this very difficult time. I remember going out when it was painful or embarrassing as I would begin to cry as a stroller passed by, or toddler ran to his Mommy's arms. One of the most painful times came after our first miscarriage which happened in January. In May when Mother's Day came, I was overwhelmed with the thoughts of whether I was "considered a mother" because my baby had left us just a short month or two after conception. I can empathize with you when you say that everything "looks normal" but your world is spinning around you because it is everything but normal. And when it feels normal, you don't want it to.

You are living out the passage "All things are possible with God" (my paraphrase.) Thank you for sharing your life and the gift of Ewan.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.