It was Saturday night, and almost six months to the day since we had decided to take Ewan off of ECMO. It had been a trying week and despite a mostly restful day, I was still exhausted. I walked into the bathroom to get ready for bed just like I do every night and it stopped me: the shelf I've walked right past and noticed hundreds of times. I reached out a hand and touched the stack of baby washcloths and towels that had never been used. I picked up the small blue terrycloth whale that never got to be the part of any bath time routine.
Suddenly, my heart hurt too much again. Not a moment goes by that I don't miss my son, but those moments still come where normalcy cracks and gives way to the grief that lies beneath it.
I made fists, and I hit the wall. I wept and pressed my forehead into my hands.
My son is dead.
A pile of washcloths and towels, a nubby little blue whale. In simplest terms, that is all it really is. But what I felt was the weight of six months of moments missed, of memories that never had a chance to be formed, of feeling deprived of the chance to care for my own son.
I dreamed of him that night. The scenery was different in my dream, but we were in a hospital waiting room with another parent waiting on his child's heart surgery. I remember feeling the same calmness and the same near certainty that I wouldn't see my child alive again. But in my dream, it turned out differently. In my dream, a nurse brought my child to me and placed him in my arms. I uttered and choked through sobs that I didn't think he would make it -- I thought for certain we were saying goodbye. I didn't think I would see him alive again. He was strong. He fought hard and he made it through, they told us.
In my dream, we got to take him home. He was well and he was thriving.
And then I woke up.