Saturday following my letter to my baby boy, I cried for a long time. Craig woke up and came downstairs and saw it printed and laying on the desk and asked to read it. And of course, I said yes. I read it again while he read it. It touched me but also pained me to hear him sob as he read my words to our precious baby boy. It pained me for obvious reasons — my sweetheart, my mate, he hurts, too. It was his baby boy that went on to heaven, too. It touched me because the words I wrote were probably words he could write. And his tears mingled with my own. We hugged and held each other for a bit.
The children were out in various places over the weekend. On Friday night as Craig and I ate pizza, drank a couple of beers and watched rented movies, I was feeling a bit guilty that my other children were not there with us. But then…
Then, we went to bed. I was overcome in the dark and the silence with grief. The sobs were uncontrollable and I couldn’t stifle them, even if I had wanted to.
And I was no longer feeling guilty, but feeling so very grateful to our friends who had offered to take them for the weekend.
Craig and I both lay in bed crying. Crying for our sweet baby boy that we desired so much to be here with us still. And yes, for the first time ever, I was so grateful…even elated…that my older children were not in our home with us at that time.
So, on Saturday, after writing, after reading over and over my own words, and after holding my husband and crying some more, I lay down on the couch, pulled up a blanket and lay with my eyes closed — an attempt to stop the horrid pounding in my head that seems to accompany my tears right now. I finally drifted into a sleep. I awoke and looked at the clock and saw it was 12:15! I had slept for probably 2 hours, and it was almost time for the KU game and getting on to the time we would go to meet with Father Rogers to begin making arrangements for Gregory’s Mass.
Saturday was another day of Craig and me. Together. Just the two of us. We watched KU. We went to get our hair cut. We scheduled the Mass for Gregory. We ate sub sandwiches and popcorn purchased from the movie theater while we watched rented movies again. And drank a couple beers. We just hung out. Together. We needed it so badly. When I went to bed Saturday, I worried if I would be overcome again. But this time, I was able to go to bed and fall asleep with minimal tears. I thanked God for that.
Then on Sunday, we knew the kids were coming home. I got my shower in, I did my hair and I put on makeup. I put on nice clothes for church. I kind of felt a little bit like I was okay. The processional hymn was “Be Not Afraid.” As soon as I saw it, I shut the hymnal and grabbed my tissues and said to Craig, “I can’t do this today.” and I regretted putting make up on. Of course, I fell apart. I pulled it together by the Gospel reading. And then, they prayed for us in the petitions and I began to fall apart again. And then, I went to receive the Holy Eucharist and could not stop the tears. There is a very real feeling of separation for me right now because receiving the Holy Eucharist is the only way I get to be with Jesus…and Gregory is already fully with Jesus, all the time. And my heart breaks because of my two desires: I desire to be with our Lord and with Gregory so very badly. I also desire to be here with my husband and my other children because being separated from them would hurt so badly at this time…and, well, I’m still living in the world. And so this crazy split personality completely blooms right as I approach our Lord in the Eucharist. I want to say so badly, “Lord, I want to be with You, and Gregory, now and forever and always, but yet — here I am on EArth and I can’t be with You and Gregory right now and it’s a real and a physical pain in my heart.”
I know our Lord must understand. But my human brain cannot wrap itself around the idea and the pain is enough to bring the tears.
After Mass, we got to take Helen home. I hugged her forever and I kissed her so many times. I told her how much I missed her and that I loved her so. We went to the Funeral Home to take care of things there. Then we went home and waited for all of our precious children to make their way back.
The hospital had sent a soft, quilted bag of sorts that had momentos and pictures the hospital photographer had taken of Gregory. I hadn’t opened it. But I thought that I should look at it before the kids were there so I could offer for them to look at the things if they wanted to. So, I took the items out…the tiny teddy bear that weighed about as much as Gregory had, the tiny rattle, the little block with the letter G, the blue, crocheted baby blanket and hat. Finally, I picked up the envelope with the pictures, I took a deep breath and I took them out and looked at them. The tears came, though not violently, as I flipped through them one by one. My precious baby boy, so tiny, so beautiful.
Finally, all the girls were back and we told them that the baby was a little brother (we hadn’t known that from the ultrasound) and his name was Gregory. When the girls looked through the photos, oh, how they “ooh’d” and they “ahh’d” and they said, “Aw, look how cute he is!” and they said, “He’s so tiny!” and “He’s so beautiful!” I cannot tell you how much that right there made me feel so good. My heart swelled for my children. Of course, I knew they would love their little brother, but to hear them verbally affirm him so positively took days off my grieving time, I am sure. It make my heart so happy to hear them all loving on their baby brother.
Later in the evening, Dominic started talking about his “baby sister” and I said, “No, Dominic, the baby was a boy, remember? And we named him Gregory. And he has gone on to be with Jesus.” The tears started coming and he put his head on my chest and said, I miss my baby sister. And I just let him say it that time. Then I remembered he hadn’t seen the pictures yet and I asked him if he wants to see some pictures of his baby brother. He said yes and so we went to get everything out again. I showed him the tiny teddy bear. As I showed him the pictures, I was explaining about Gregory’s skin and Dominic asked me, “So, he is red?” and I said, “yes, that is how he looks because his skin wasn’t like ours yet” and Dominic very matter-of-factly said, “My baby brother has red skin.” And he cried a little bit more and told me that he misses his baby brother. And I tearfully told him that I did, too. There were other moments, but basically, my children have been my lifeline out of some of the deep grief I feel right now.
My children seem to understand that the baby is not coming home. They seem to have appropriate levels of sadness to that and they seem to have a strong understanding that Heaven was God’s place for Gregory right now, even though we miss him so.
I know this is only one day. There are more days coming and it might not be so clear to us all on those days. But for now, I’m just clinging onto this day, loving all of my children and my husband, and praying to get on to the next day.