It took me by surprise the other day, the flashback to Thursday, February 28, 2013.
We had just arrived at Mass Saturday afternoon, the Rosary was in full swing, the kids all filed into the pew behind me and Craig and Vincent sat on the end. Dominic and Helen vied for their spots right next to me. All of a sudden, my mind was in the ultrasound room at the hospital where I found out that Gregory had passed away. I was seeing the screen, feeling awkward at the tech’s silence, trying to make small talk — “Oh, is that the leg?” and “That looks like a normal size head alright” — as my voice shook and my stomach sank the longer she was silent. My memory lingered on the moment she said she had to call my doctor and then I recalled the phone conversation with him. I felt so helpless. And I don’t know why I felt the need to try and console him or anyone else trying to console me! But I did…I kept apologizing when there was nothing to apologize for. But I didn’t know what the hell else I was supposed to say? I had to call Craig, but what the hell was I supposed to say to him? I had plans that night that I needed to cancel, but what the hell was I supposed to say to Maggie when I called her? And for some reason, I called my dad — I just felt the need to burden him with my sorrow. I didn’t know if he’d understand, but I needed to talk to my dad in that moment…to tell him. All of this whipped through my brain as I was sitting there Saturday, trying to get ready for Mass.
Then, my throat caught as I looked around the church and remembered how I had come there that afternoon. Our parish has Adoration on Thursdays, so our Lord was exposed on the altar. I had walked all the way to the 2nd pew from the front, gone in and knelt down. I had laid my head on my forearms — and the sobs had come violently. I didn’t know any other reason to be there at that time other than I wanted so badly to feel the presence of God in this horrible time. And I was worried about being loud and disturbing others. As I thought about this Saturday, I realized how absurd that was. But I remember thinking to myself, “Hold it together, don’t cry too loudly.”
I shook my head trying to expel the images that kept coming to my brain. But I couldn’t stop them from popping into my consciousness. My mind floated to the remainder of that afternoon while we waited for the children to return from school. I felt so lost. I wanted a priest, but I didn’t know what for. But, Father had come and just sat with me for a bit at my home. He didn’t know what to say. And I didn’t either. And I don’t know that I needed anyone to SAY anything to me right then. I needed to make phone calls to find places for the children to stay and I hated every single time that I had to explain what had happened.
Then for some reason, the moment we told the children about their baby sibling — that we didn’t yet know was a boy — and my chest throbbed as I remembered their tears.
Almost as suddenly as the memories intruded on my consciousness, I was able to pull my mind into the present. I think the pain was too much. I’d avoided tears for most of the past 5-6 weeks at Mass. When the due date passed at the end of July, I truly felt as though I exhaled for the first time in a long time. I can’t explain the feeling, but I knew it was good. I know I will always love Gregory and have a different relationship with him than I have with anyone else.
I’ll always remember him.
And even though the memories that take the forefront in the scrapbook of my mind are sad, I’m still happy that we accepted the gift of Gregory from God like we accepted the gifts of all of his siblings. I am a different person because Gregory is a part of my life and experience. I’ve aged and matured in ways I could never have anticipated. I see life completely differently than I did before.
This is the first time my mind transported me so wholly to that point in my life. And even as I have written it here, I’m feeling the tightening in my chest, the lump in my throat and the tears have fallen freely down my cheeks and pooled in my lap. But I don’t wish for it to go away. I welcome the refresher of pain and sorrow. It helps me remember my baby…my baby I didn’t get to snuggle close and hold tight.
But he was real.
And he was mine.
And I love him.
|These items (bear, block, rattle) were placed in pictures they took of Gregory at the hospital. The hat on the bear’s head was on Gregory’s head for a photo or two. The items are tiny and made to scale with how tiny he was.|