This is the first of a series of posts about losing my son, Josiah, at eight days old. For a bit more background, click on the tab "I Remember: The story behind it" at the top of the page.
My hope in posting these is that my own journey toward healing through remembering will give you courage to face the things you have been avoiding, denying or despairing over.
Remembering brings perspective. It brings healing. It brings hope...
Josiah was admitted to the hospital late on a Sunday night.
I was battling a raging breast infection. As he was wheeled off to his room, I roamed the floors of the hospital trying to find the illusive, ill-marked "pumping room" for breastfeeding mamas.
Once I was done there, I was shown to a small private room for parents outside the waiting area of the PICU.
There was a single bed, a chair, a window. It was quiet, peaceful, womb-like.
By Monday morning that little room was filled with a group of warrior women who came to hold me up, cry with me, pray with me.
Later that day, it became a place where I would try to rest. Besides my sister, few were allowed to come in.
I was worn out. I had not slept for almost 7 days since giving birth to my first baby. And I knew I needed to refuel. I knew that I needed to prepare myself for what was ahead.
But I thought what was ahead was bringing my baby back home.
And in between being cocooned in that room--pumping milk for my son and trying to get myself healed and rested--I would go to my Josiah's little hospital room to look at his face, rub his forehead and assure him that mama was there.
Outside of my sequestered room there was a whole other world that I saw very little of in my two days in the hospital.
The waiting room was filled to the brim with people. Friends and family came to show their support, to meet our son, to pray, to wait and to hope.
My husband spent his two days escorting them in and out, in and out of Josiah's tiny room. For some it was the first time they'd seen our son. For most it was the last.
And I distinctly remember that Monday night when I really saw the full waiting room for the first time.
At that point, I was so exhausted that the hospital provided a wheelchair for me to go back and forth from my room to Josiah's. I was being wheeled back to my room, to the cocoon, to be sequestered again.
But when I passed through the waiting room, it was like time stood still. It was as dramatic as any sappy slow motion scene you've seen in a movie. I remember it that way still.
I remember a sea of faces. Faces that looked tired, afraid, somber, sad. And in that moment, the reality of what I was facing hit me.
I didn't want to take it all in.
I remember the air feeling thick, palpable, heavy. Inside, my soul was gasping for air and crying, "Don't. have. anything. to. give." And somehow I felt in the moment that I should have given them something. A thank you. A glance. An acknowledgment that they were there.
But I didn't.
I hung my head and I closed my eyes like a toddler who thinks you can't see them if they can't see you. And I didn't open them until I was back in my hideout.
And that memory has haunted me.
Up until recently, it has been frozen inside--like a Polaroid picture with the word "traumatic" stamped across it. And part of the reason why is that instead of seeing that the people were there for me, all I felt is that they wanted something from me. And I didn't have anything to give to them.
Also locked up inside that frozen memory is the reality that that moment also spoke something very clearly to my soul--a message that it raged against at the time. It said, "They are here because this is a huge crisis. Your son is in danger. This is really happening to you."
But now I see that the words my soul heard and wanted to delete in that moment wasn't the whole message of the day.
The people weren't there to get something from me.
I remember feeling this immense NEED in the room at the time and thinking that I was feeling it coming from the other people there. But it was so clearly my need that was screaming the loudest. I needed space. I needed quiet. I needed to get back to my little room again.
And every person in that room yielded to my need--though I didn't see it at the time.
Not one person approached me. They collectively saw that I was overwhelmed and they stopped talking. The room went quiet. For me. My soul was gasping for breath, and those people gave me air.
And when I think about that, I hear the other words that my heart couldn't hear that day. "You are not alone. We are here. We care. We will lift you up. We love Josiah too. We are facing this together."
So I have been revisiting that moment in my mind. I have been consciously trying to remember each face I saw that night.
And as I have been doing that, new feelings have emerged about that waiting room.
I can remember it without trauma. I wonder about what each person was doing when they got the call that Josiah was in the hospital. What were they told? What did they feel? What did they put on hold so they could be there for me and for my family that night?
I see the waiting room differently now, but I see myself differently too.
I imagine myself, with open eyes and an open heart, whispering thank you to each brave soul who came to be there.
I am grateful for the waiting room. And I am thankful for the faces that filled it.