Sunday, 4 March 2012

My letter to David

There is so much I could write. I have a lifetime of things to tell you. I have a thousand, "I'm proud of you's" and a million, "I love you's." Although you wont hear them all you can see them in my tears.

I'd give everything to go back and be able to live those 68 days over so I could take you in even more than I did. I wish, even more, that February 16th was your birth date and you were healthy and safe in our arms. But neither of those things can happen. Instead all I have is your tote of memories, a small silver urn of your remains, pictures and the memories I treasure and hold in my innermost being.

So what do I write? What do I say to you so you know what it is I really feel? I hope this will suffice. Although it's simple and short it carries with it a piece of my heart.

"David, you were and are perfect. You were patient, kind and held within you strength and determination - an unparalleled level of fight that I'm sure even God was proud of. My son, when I light that candle every day in your memory I do so because I know you will always be a part of me. All the best things I do in my life I do in your honor and I will take time to remember you in all my joys. I have an abundance of "thank yous" I will whisper to you over time. I was proud of you in every one of your 68 days. I miss you every day sweet baby. And mommy love you David. Mommy love you too much."

Monday, 27 February 2012

Febuary 16th

Today is David's due date. I can hardly believe how quickly time has has been a shocking 4 months since his birth. Mya said, "Today was his due date? But he was born so long ago." Followed by raised eyebrows from Kiana and a single word, "Wow." Then Mya said, "I guess we were kind of lucky he was born so early because at least we got to meet him. Some people don't get to meet their babies." Very true. Sad but true.

I spent much of my day listening to music that reminded me of David. Josh and I watched the video montage we played at David's memorial (you can find the link to that on a previous post if you have yet to watch it). I also lit some lemon scented candles that were thoughtfully given to me. In our "remembering spot" I placed a candle for every baby whose family I had come to know through the NICU: Brett, Tyr, Alexis, Naomi, Alex, Kavi, "Blackfoot", and Ollie. I also lit a candle for all the past, present and future babies of the NICU. It was a stark reminder of how many babies were lost to those I know and care for. I still get teary eyed thinking of the visual. So much sadness represented in the flickering of those candles.

During the day I received messages from people and how they were remembering David and honouring him on this day. Some people intentionally thought of him and how he impacted their lives, some lit candles and others released balloons in his memory. All the remembering made me feel so blessed and loved by those who I call my friends and family.

As I think of today being David's due date I think of all the expectations I had for this day and how those expectations are a glaring contrast to what transpired. I expected a healthy baby. A sweet bundle of joy brought home to live with the rest of the family. Not only did I have those expectations but I took all that for granted. Not all babies are born when they should be. Not all babies are healthy. Sadly, not all babies go home.

So much of what we lost when David passed away was the potential for his life. Seeing him do all the things I dreamt and hoped for. Those dreams and hopes died with David. I lost a lifetime of his smiles, his successes and failures, his happiness and the joy I would feel in knowing him and all that he would become. That was stolen from our family.

The excitement that I anticipated for this day has been replaced by sorrow. I feel sorry for David that he wasn't able to fully know Mya, Kiana and Joshua. They were so excited to have another sibling. They loved David so much. They still love him and miss him. I'm sorry he didn't have a chance to truly know the lifelong love of his dad. A man who is a great father. A daddy who loves to tickle, cuddle and "race" with his kids to bed. I'm also sorry David didn't get to fully know me. My children are my life. He will always be a part of my life but I wish he could have felt it directly from me. The true breadth of my love. My overwhelming satisfaction in him. I am grateful that we were given the time we had because I know he got a glimpse of our family - his family. I hope that he looks down on our lives ans sees who we are and gathers how much he is loved and missed.

I excitedly await the day when we get to meet, where I hear the sound of his voice and feel the embrace of his hug. I wonder...what's his favorite color? What's his best characteristic? I like to think it's kindness. I don't know why but it just emanated from him even as a small baby in an incubator.

I wanted to write a letter to David today to say everything I felt for him. But what does one say? Nothing I write will truly convey the depth of love I had for him. No words will fully express my feeling or the pride a mother has for such a fighter. So I didn't write anything. I need time.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Words about David

One of the things I love most, and I know I've mentioned it before, is hearing how David has touched peoples lives. I received literally hundreds of texts, emails and facebook messages after David's passing. I read every one of them even though I was only able to respond to a small portion. There were a few themes that ran throughout the messages. I have compiled a number of the excerpts from the letters and messages I received. For whatever reason, these few messages really touched me at the time I read them.
From our nurses and medical staff:
"I enjoyed my time with David and your family and feel privileged to have shared him in a small way."
"I am so sorry for your loss. David was an amazing little guy. His time here was short but he was loved lots!"
"What an honour it was to have known and cared for David. He was a strong boy whose sweet character shone through everyday. He will always be remembered."
"David will remain as special in my heart as he is to you."
"I think of David and your family often. Even though those 2 days were extremely hard I am grateful I was able to be there for your family and for David. You were all so strong and brave. You are all in my thoughts and prayers and I will never forget your family or David. Remember that David touched the lives of many people in the 2 short months he was with us. I will always remember his big eyes looking at me."

"Words cannot express the depth of sadness at the loss of David. He was such a strong little boy, with just enough spunk in him to endear himself to everyone who met him. I will never forget that sweet smile and eye roll he gave me after peeing on me through the incubator door! I feel very privileged not only to have been able to primary David, but to have gotten to know your family. You are truly amazing, in the depth of concern and love you showed not only for each other, but for the families around you. You have made a significant impact on our nursery, and none of you will be forgotten. As you mourn the loss of David, please find peace in the fact that you gave him all the love and opportunities you could, and trust that the strength that he displayed everyday runs also through you, and that together you can accomplish almost anything. Sincerely, and with a heart sad for your loss."
How he changed lives:

 "David Onyango – the little man who changed my life! David was born to you at a time when I was going through a part of my life where I needed to learn some very important things... things which are life lessons for me. His life - the everyday miracles surrounding him, & his eventual passing cemented those things for me in a very significant and special way - maybe one day we'll get to share that. But it's the reason why I say He changed my life. I am better, wiser - for him having been in this world."
"I want to thank you for sharing baby David. He has changed my life in so many ways... I feel like he found the switch to the street lights on my dark road."

"Your little man has touched my heart and many many peoples! You must be so proud of him, he is a fighter!! He is an inspiration."

How he restored faith:

"You and your family have been in my prayers everyday since David was born. I actually started praying again because of it."

 "David helped give me back my faith and belief. My pregnancy had left me with a lot of anger but seeing the miracle that David was made me realize God is so big and so powerful. Thank-you for that gift, David! He also brought our family closer together. The first time I ever saw my husband cry was the night David died. My mom and I were also able to bond through our grief. David has also taught us to be thankful everyday for our boys. We are especially thankful to David for reminding us how lucky we are. David taught us to believe in miracles. David is a miracle. Finally, I will be forever grateful to David because he brought the world jungle balls."

Monday, 13 February 2012

As many days pass

As time passed I thought things would get easier. I thought time would numb the pain and life would somehow become more normal. In a way it is more normal. I take my girls to school, hang out with Josh all day and do the stuff I did before David was born. But while I do those things I look through a different lens at life. A life that is not quite clear. My vision is muddied by tears. My thoughts foggy with the constant buzzing of what life could have been like if only David was still here.

When you miss someone the longer they are away the harder it is and the more you miss them. That's how it is for me. It's been over a month since David passed away and every day I cry and everyday I think of him, remembering the moments I spent with him in the hospital.

In our living room we have an entertainment center which houses our TV. Above that is shelving. I have placed a picture of David beside a picture of Reuben's late mother. I put candles beside them and light both of them everyday and let them burn during our waking hours. Beside David's picture and candle are beautiful wooden statues I've received as gifts. In front of David's picture sits his urn. It's my remembering spot. A small portion of our home dedicated to honouring and celebrating him. I, too, burn other candles remembering other mom's who have lost their children including my friend Leanne and her son Brett. Leanne actually gave me the idea for lighting a candle daily as she does for her son. It's a little ritual that makes me feel better.

This past week it was confirmed that I have a blood clotting disorder. In and of itself it's not extremely dangerous but it causes preterm birth because of clotting in the placenta. The likely reason for David's prematurity has been found. I think knowing helps so many people. Not me. I found it rather devastating because to prevent the clotting one needs only to take a baby aspirin daily for the first trimester of pregnancy. Such a small little thing. So easy. And yet there was no way for me or anyone to know. Finding this information out rocked my world. I was pretty much incapacitated. I sat outside my doctor's office in my van sobbing. One tiny aspirin a day and my life could have been drastically different. I don't feel guilty...I have no control over how my blood clots. I don't blame my doctors...they had no reason to expect such a thing. Reuben pointed out that it's probably so difficult to hear because the fix seemed extremely simple. After a very long and difficult day pondering over this development I came to my own conclusion that has helped me cope. I truly believe our birth and death are set. No matter what, David was meant to die on January 4th - aspirin or no aspirin. What I am grateful for is that he was born when he was because he wasn't due until February 16th. We got 68 days with him. Perhaps a special gift from God as he knew when David was going to pass. This doesn't help everyone but it helps me to think this way. I don't miss him any less or wish things couldn't have been different but it does help me get out of bed in the morning when I'd rather not face a world without my sweet son.

My goal for my grief is to be able to remember David with happiness as opposed to sadness. Instead of the anguish I feel now I hope to one day feel thankfulness and joy. I hope my constantly busy mind will become peaceful. I will eventually turn my grief into something positive. Motivation to be and do something excellent in David's honour and memory. But for now I want to feel sad. For some reason I want to feel the pain. Feeling bad helps. That may seem weird to hear but I don't want someone to make me feel better. I don't want to be consoled. I want to miss David and cry.

In the midst of my sadness or what I call "the missing" (the stage of missing David so unbelievably much) I continue to believe in miracles because I see them still. I see babies going home from the NICU, babies being born perfectly healthy and I hear of all the great things my friends are doing with their babies post-NICU. I'm so glad they got their miracles. But why didn't I get mine? I prayed for a miracle. In fact, I begged for one. I distinctly remember getting on my knees and pleading with God that I would do anything if he'd just give me my miracle. So why didn't I get mine? Well I think in a way I did. David was a miracle and he overcame so many things he wasn't expected to. While watching TV my miracle question was answered. I wont go into detail here but I did find peace in that area. Although I didn't get my miracle in the way that I wanted it I can honestly and sincerely say that I am grateful that many people around me experienced theirs. I just hope that they truly appreciate and rejoice in the fact that they were fortunate enough to receive such a special gift.

I must say there is one thing that still nags at me and bothers me when I think of it. That thing is our doctor "friend." I really wanted David to prove her wrong. I wanted him to show her that she was wrong about David and our family. Maybe it's just my competitive side but I wanted to visit her years down the road and say, "Na, na, na, na, na. You should have had faith." It bugs me we can't do that. Not just because I wanted to be right (even though that would mean David was still here with us and I want that more than anything) but I wanted it because I think it would have changed her and how she views others and the possibilities which exist in our littlest babies. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe David did teach her something. Maybe our family did too and we just don't know it. I hope so! I hope she sees the next little "David" with potential and hope. I hope she encourages the parents and supports their fighting spirit. I hope the fear and anxiety she displayed in our case is exchanged with positivity and support. But we'll never know if she's changed. I'll keep my fingers crossed. Somewhere deep inside I think that if anyone could have changed her mind, David could have. He was just that kind of baby!

So many of my days have been made better by kind emails and letters from friends and family. I, especially, like receiving notes from people regarding what David has done for them or how he's changed their lives. It makes concrete for me his purpose. On a number of occasions this last few weeks I've run into people who know little of what has occurred and in their enquiry I've had the pleasure of telling them David's story. It comforts me to share his life with other people. Most times the listener is crying. I don't cry. I'm just too proud of him and filled with so much love at that time that a sense of happiness fills me and I can speak of him as if his story ended so much differently. In one particular case I ran into someone at the Starbucks who had read my blog. She was a nurse in the RIH hospital here in Kamloops. To hear that they had been reading my blog, cheering David on and excitedly waiting his arrival was so sweet. They, too, mourned his passing and were saddened to never have had the chance to meet and care for him. That really touched me. It also made me very proud of our health care system. One where the medical staff really do care for their patients.

In speaking to a friend I discussed my blog and its future. My blog was created solely for the purpose of informing people about my journey with David. I envisioned that journey being about our experiences in the NICU and our transition home. Because it ended differently than I expected my blog has had a different purpose as well. It has morphed into a tell-all of David's life and how his life has impacted mine and the many people around us. My sister, Danielle, has offered to put my blog into book form so that I have a physical copy to keep with all the other things I have of David's. I plan on having one more entry before the book is created - done on David's due date. To me, my journey with David will never end because he'll never leave me. I will always carry a piece of him with me.

"but you are there, and an invisible part of you remains with me, Always."

I will forever be a momto4.

My facebook status: "Got asked by a total stranger in Starbucks today, "Are you Michelle, David's mom?" Why yes I am!"

"My heart breaks as another NICU baby gained her wings today. Rest in peace sweet little lady."

" It's gonna be a two chocolate bar day today"

"Should have stayed in bed today"

"I'm making plans for a better me and a better life. What that totally looks like I'm not sure but bigger and better things are on the way"

"Whoever is friends with Candice Reimer...please tell her I said thank you:) I'm blown away by the generosity and thoughtfulness of others especially since I have NO idea who she even is."

"Fungal balls is on the ha ha ha."

Sunday, 29 January 2012

David's Memorial

Reuben and I woke up and went to the church in the morning. It was silent in the sanctuary while we set up. We laid out his blankets, books and all of the items he accrued in the 2 short months he was alive. It fit on one small table. When we were done we both got teary-eyed. All of our sweet David's things on display to share with the world. We also set up for the girls dance routine and a registration table with a guest book, a candle, his picture and a card box where we were accepting donations to the BC Women's NICU.

We went home and I had many emails, facebook messages and texts from people who had decided the roads were too treacherous to attempt the drive to Kamloops. It was very unfortunate the weather had interfered with so many peoples' attendance. However, I completely understood. I was saddened, especially with some of my friends, only for selfish reasons....I miss them. Soon my parents and my sister, Danielle's, family arrived. I showed them David's beautiful urn and his clay molds, both of which I planned to take with me at the time of his memorial. We all got ready and travelled up caravan style to the church.

Once we arrived we lit the candle, put the beautiful programs*, my sister made, out and then displayed the clay molds on the table. Our entire family arrived and met in the church nursery. We all cried and hugged. I just couldn't believe this was actually happening. Pastor Dave came in and prayed with us shortly before we went out to start the memorial service.

Walking into the sanctuary was surreal. I started to cry immediately seeing our friends and church family members there to celebrate with us the amazing life that was David's. I carried David's beautiful and tiny urn in with me and placed it on the table before I sat down. After a quick welcome from Pastor Dave Mohr, who officiated the service, Mya and Kiana performed a dance for David. It was to "I'll be missing you" by P. Diddy. My nieces Asia, Brooklyn and Katie also participated. It was a beautiful tribute to David. Seeing my girls sobbing on stage but pushing through to finish just reaffirmed how much they loved their brother. I'm so glad they did it. It was simple but in that simplicity there was honesty and love.

Following the dance my brother, Michael, spoke. He spoke of David's strength, what David did for our family and for Mike personally. It was a heartfelt speech. I love to hear peoples' stories of how David impacted their lives and hearing one such story from my brother was touching. Michael saw David for who he was: A strong and determined baby. His message succinctly conveyed the essence of David. His speech was perfect. My favorite part was the ending where he said, "In the bible David slays Goliath. We all know the ending to this story. Our David didn't slay Goliath. But he did two things: First, he fought with all his strength to the bitter end. Second, he didn't slay Goliath but that tiny little baby kicked the hell out of him." That he did!

After his speech we sang some songs. We sang "Jesus Loves the Little Children," "Jesus Loves Me," and "I Lift My Eyes Up" (which is the singing of Psalm 121). Then Reuben and I went up to give the eulogy. Reuben went first. He gave a wonderful speech that included a summarized play-by-play of David's life and what it was like for him being so far away. He also talked about all he felt for David and the things he would miss most about him. I think it meant a lot to everyone who was there to hear what Reuben had to say. I loved Reuben's speech - it, too, was perfect!

Then it was my turn.  I had been crying for quite a while now so during my speech I was a mess (or at least I felt like one). It was so hard to see my speech through my tears. I also found it hard to look up because every time I would meet eyes with someone who was crying it made me even more emotional. I was already doing the "ugly cry" so I just buried my head and read as best I could. I have included my speech here (I found my part of the eulogy very difficult to write for more than just the fact that it was about my son and it was something I never thought I'd have to do. It was also hard because I felt as though I had revealed so much of what I truly felt for him throughout my blog already. As a result I decided to keep it very simple.): 

Although Reuben has already mentioned it, it bears repeating. We would like to extend our many thank yous to our support network that cared for us in many different ways. Whether you cared for or children, made meals, prayed or sent gifts or kind words we thank you.
I never thought I’d ever have to organize a memorial especially for one of my children. It’s something no parent should have to do. But sadly this is where we’ve found ourselves. I had no idea what was supposed to occur. So I did what any smart person would do…I googled it. There I learnt that there would need to be a eulogy written by someone close to the person being remembered. That left Reuben and I…so here we are. From here on out I cannot promised anything other than honesty. And crying. There will definitely be crying so please bear with me.
David was a miracle from the very moment he was born. October 28th at 7:02 pm we were blessed with the birth of our sweet son. He was 4 months early at a whopping 475 grams and a giant 11 inches long. He survived when the odds were stacked against him. The doctors joked that he had 9 lives because he probably shouldn’t have survived the first few days let alone his laparotomies, his PDA ligation or the TPN debacle. But he did. And most of the time he sailed right through.
In getting to know David we had to learn NICU-speak. We quickly learnt about desats, bradys, TPN, lipids, PDAs, laparotomies, PICC and ART lines…and the list goes on. I remember going to sleep and all I could hear was the dinging of the machines. Learning to change a diaper on a micro preemie was daunting but so rewarding because we wanted nothing more than to touch his tiny body.
I thought I’d tell you a little about our sweet man that you may or may not already know. Reuben and I took a few days to name our little mister. On advice from my mom we named him David after David who slayed Goliath because our baby was so small and had a huge battle ahead of him. Some things David liked – He liked facilitated tucking, his bat cave, sucking on his ET tube, soother and fingers. He also liked the sound of our voices. Things that David tolerated were being touched, IV’s and having his ileosotomy bag changed. Things he disliked were camera flashes, Echocardiograms but most of all he really disliked eye exams. Fun fact, David was the only preemie around with eyebrows. Full tilt ones too!
So what can be said about a baby that was here for only 2 months? Well one 4 year old boy told me David was his hero. A surgeon of over 20 years called him the toughest baby he’d ever seen. One doctor said David was his favorite baby. A nurse declared that he was the sweetest baby she had ever seen. We can also say he had an undeniable will to live, an unparalleled level of strength and he was extremely loved which is evident by all who are here today.
We only knew our son for a little over 2 months but it felt like a life time. Looking at his big brown eyes and his sweet countenance is something I will never forget. I knew David was sent here to our family for a purpose. I hoped and prayed that purpose would find him here on earth as a strong man of God preaching the word to all who would listen. Using his story of how he’d overcome all odds as a micro preemie. We all know the ending to the story. David wasn’t able to beat the odds. Instead of a man of God he was a baby of God. David had such a big impact he didn’t need 80 plus years. He was able to accomplish a lifetime of work in 68 days. I think of 2nd Timothy 4:7. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Our sweet David has brought people and families together, he’s inspired others, changed outlooks and drawn so many people toward God. Bless his soul.
Although I am heartbroken over the loss of David I know God had a plan for his life and over time more and more of that plan is being revealed to us. For now, I am truly thankful to God that I was privileged enough to be selected as David’s mom. I’m grateful that I could sit by his side for 2+ months cheering him on and loving him through that incubator. I am indebted to the medical staff who not only treated David but loved him in the hours we were not there to do so. I’m so pleased to see how many people are here to support our family and show their love to David. I was also pleasantly overwhelmed by the outpouring of messages I’ve received from all over Canada and different parts of the world who have contacted me about how David has touched their lives.
I pray that you don’t forget David and his purpose. Please don’t let his short time on earth be in vain. If one small baby can try so hard to live, there is nothing we cannot do. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13.  Love your family, friends and even strangers because that love always comes back around. Don’t take any thing for granted, especially your time and health. Things are easy to acquire but when it all comes down to it our time and health are what really matter most. Remember, you too are here for a purpose. God has a plan for us all.
Although David is gone I see parts of him all around me. Other than his resemblance to Josh and Reuben, I see his kind eyes in Kiana. I see his determination in Mya. I see his strong will in Josh. I see his laid-back nature in Reuben. Every time I see someone push themselves I see his ability to overcome. Pieces of him are everywhere.
Now to my sweet baby. I know you are looking down on us in your big boy body. You have no pokes, bruises or scars. I’d guess you’re eating all you can with no bloating, distention or discomfort…and you’re breathing deeply all on your own. Well I love you sweet baby. I love you too much. I loved every touch and every moment of our cuddles. I loved your perfectly shaped hands, the lemony smell of your head and your beautiful and kind eyes. I miss you every day sweet honey. I miss you every day. I’ll never forget you David. Not what you did for my faith and most definitely not the impact you had on this world. But most of all sweet baby, mommy is so proud of you. You fought so hard. You were patient and extremely tough. You did so good little baby.
I’d like to end with the phrase I said to David every time I left his bedside. “Mommy love you sweet baby. God love you little honey.
Following the eulogy we showed a video montage of David's life. It was created by my brother-in-law Riss. He did a great job. It will be a great keepsake for our family. I have included the video for your viewing.

Pastor Dave then said a small speech and prayer. I was glad the church supported us the way they did. They took care of the flowers and the refreshments (which we had following the memorial service). There are so many things to think about so having a few less errands to run and people to organize was a true blessing especially during such a difficult time.

While people enjoyed some refreshments a line formed to see the table of David's things. Everyone stopped by Reuben and I to give us a hug and pass on kind words of encouragement. I loved that part of the service. Especially since I had no idea some of the people were coming. I broke down in tears seeing my cousin Stacie, my soccer teammates, and some dear friends who I haven't seen in such a long time. Having them there to support us meant more to me than I thought it was going to. Sharing David's belongings with people was also special to me. It was a way for people to finally connect with him even after his death.

People slowly trickled out of the church. We cleaned up and my immediate family lingered around to mingle some. Re-packing David's things was hard. It was like slowly putting him away. His whole life fits in one tote. I cried as I blew out his candle. Goodbye sweet David...till we meet again little baby.

*If you would like a program (we have extras remaining) I will gladly send you one if you provide me with your mailing address. They are beautiful and capture so much of who David is.

My facebook status: "Thank you to everyone who came and supported our family and celebrated David's life."

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

What day is it anyway?

The days since David's passing have basically blurred together. I've kept myself fairly busy taxiing the girls around, coaching their basketball team and preparing for David's memorial. But mostly I spend a lot of time doing menial things thinking of David. It's hard to take my mind off of anything but him. As a result, sleep is difficult. Well sleep itself isn't difficult. I fall asleep (eventually) and sleep for a good amount of time but it's not restful. I'm left feeling quite tired.

The "firsts" for everything since being home have been hard. Going to the girls school, seeing friends and family, going to church - all things I thought I'd do with David in tow. I know there are going to be a lot more difficult firsts in my future. Although you try to prepare it doesn't really work.

I'm kind of getting sick of people asking me, "How are you doing?" But what else are they supposed to say? They'd say that to me upon greeting me anyway. What is my response supposed to be? Do I tell them the truth? "Well I feel flipping awful. My son died remember? How are you?" So instead I just shrug my shoulders, fake a smile and say, "Fine." There are no words anyone can say to make you feel better. I know that and I don't expect anyone to have some magical words. I don't have a better question or greeting to propose as an alternative so I guess I'll have to suck it up. I have been amazed, however, at how gracious and kind people have been in dealing with our family. The outpouring of support continues and we are amazed daily by the generosity and love shown to us. It truly shows that people are good..

I've been told that people grieve in different ways and I agree with that 100%. I've also been told that it is normal to feel angry, depressed, guilty and sad. I don't feel angry. I think anger comes with the question, "Why." To me, I know the answer to that question, "Because God said so." For a lot of people that's not a good enough answer. "Why did he have to suffer only to die?" "Why did he have to die?" All questions I've heard from those around me. I haven't really had any thoughts of why. I guess I'm lucky in that way. I'm not depressed but rather I found peace in what happened to David. Closure was given to me before he even passed away. Another blessing. I don't have guilt either. Even though we removed the breathing tube I felt like the decision had been made for us by David and we were just carrying out the process. Plus, I truly believe that God is big enough to overcome any of our mistakes. If David was meant to live he would have. I've suffered from jealousy though. I'm jealous of others who got to take their babies home. Jealous of people with healthy babies. In no way do I wish them any bad will...that's the last thing I'd ever want for another family. I guess I just feel sorry for myself in that regard. The thing I feel the most is sadness. Not the dark overwhelming depressive kind. You know the feeling you get when someone you love is away for a long time and you miss them desperately? That's how I feel. I really miss David and the feelings are exacerbated by the fact that I will never see him again, not on earth anyhow. That could be 50 plus years! It's such a long time. I think of him often and get teary-eyed and cry just as often.

The preparation for the memorial has been anxiety provoking for me. I want it to be a certain way but I have no experience in doing something like this. The church, Pastor Dave and his wife Kim have helped us navigate our way through the process. We didn't hire the services of a funeral home to aid us in the process which has made it a bit more work. The crematorium in Vancouver has been amazing in their part. Reuben and I have been left with all of the other details. I think having a funeral home do most of the organizing provides peace of mind and ensures that every fine detail is taken care of. However, they charge a steep price for that peace of mind. I know most people would spare no expense in a situation such as this. Fortunately for us we wanted a simple celebration of his life and the church was willing to assist us in any way possible. We also had the time to do a lot of the organizing and running around ourselves. I must say that I am glad we are organizing it because it allows me to feel like I am a part of the whole process. I liked being able to pick out the guest book, the candles, the pictures, etc. It was more time engrossed in all things David.

Part of the reason we chose the 21st of January for the memorial is that we wanted to give the crematorium a chance to get us David's urn in time for the memorial. Things seemed to be taking forever partially because everything had to be done via phone, fax and email which definitely doesn't expedite the process any. Finding out that David had actually been cremated was excruciatingly hard for me. As weird as it may sound, it was like I expected the doctors to go down to the morgue and find he was actually alive. After he'd bee cremated I knew this was no longer an option. Weird but true. His death had been truly finalized in that moment. I knelt down on the ground and played the message over a few times as I cried. He is gone for good.

finalize all the details with Pastor Dave and have the girls do a quick run-through of their dance routine. All the little kinks I feared would arise had been ironed out. Everything was set for the memorial. When we arrived home there was a box from Canada Post waiting for us. It had come while we had been shopping. It was David's remains. His urn. Most definitely not how I thought he'd come home but I was glad to have him with us (in "body") nonetheless. I opened the package. It was like unwrapping one of those Matryoshka (nesting) dolls. I opened a few boxes with bubble wrap in between. Then there it was! The most perfect little urn. I started to bawl. It was so tiny. Only a bit longer than my thumb. I don't know what I expected but that wasn't it. We chose the design from 5 options and we selected a silver urn with white doves. I guess I thought it would be bigger. The size of the urn was truly David sized! The girls started to cry too. They just couldn't believe he was "in there." Reuben held on to it for a while just staring at it. I had to walk away. It was all to much. Within a few minutes I had composed myself and then quickly became so grateful it had arrived. He was here in time for his memorial. Now, officially, everything was set.

My facebook status: "Feels so blessed to have wonderful people in my life. Hugs to you all:)"
"David, only for you would I try on this many outfits!"
"Tomorrow is the memorial of our sweet David at 1pm @ Summit Drive Baptist Church. We received his urn today...words can not explain the emotions we felt. You have to see it yourself to totally understand."

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

January 6th - Going home

We woke up in the morning and packed all of our stuff (my life for the last 2+ months) into the van. We cried as we said our goodbyes to the Easter Seal. I'm going to miss that place. Not because I loved the room or anything but more because of what it represented.

We took the kids to the Vancouver Aquarium. It was nice to keep busy and to see the kids smiling and amazed at all the ocean life had to offer. Our 2 hour visit passed quickly. So we loaded our chilly bodies into the van preparing to start our trek home. As we left the Vancouver area I said, "Say goodbye to Vancouver." Josh squealed with joy. Josh was not a fan of "Mister Seals" and he was happy to have me going home with them this time, unlike all their previous visits. Mya and Kiana immediately started to cry. We are going home with out David. I just didn't see this in our future and either did the girls. I started to cry. I really thought I would become hysterical about leaving. I had feared this moment since I left the hospital yesterday. But Reuben looked at me and said, "We aren't leaving him behind. He's already gone. He's in heaven now." They were very comforting words, I think, mostly because it was the truth. He wasn't left behind, alone or scared. He was watching over us as we left the only place we'd ever known him in.Vancouver will always hold a special place in my heart because of that.

Fortunately we made it home safely. I feared coming home to Kamloops too. Could I handle the walk up the stairs to our complex without lugging David in a car seat with us? Would our home feel empty without him? I made it up the stairs and into our house without a single tear which shocked even me. I notice the kids looking at Reuben and I all the time when something sad occurs checking for our reaction. We unloaded our van which was quite the task. We began to unpack but it was too big of a job to be completed that evening. I put all of David's things in a tote. A temporary holding spot until we buy a nice chest. I looked over all of his things: his arm pressure cuff; his blankets, outfits and books; the clay molds and hand/foot prints; and the hat and booties he wore the day he passed away. I opened the bag and immediately started to cry. They still smelled like him. We didn't really have a chance to "smell" David often because he spent 99% of his time in an enclosed incubator. The last 2 days, however, we spent a lot of time holding him and he smelled of lemon. The adhesive remover they use to take tape off in the NICU has this lemony smell and that's what he smelled of. I called Reuben to come so he could smell it too. I think Mya thought we had lost our minds smelling these booties but that small little thing was so important to me. I remembered that I had a finger nail in a piece of tape (again that probably sounds weird) and I couldn't find it. I started to panic. I had lost it. I was nearing frantic looking for this minute piece of tape and Reuben said, "Don't worry, we'll find it." "No we wont," I said, "It's lost. We'll never find something that small. And you didn't even get to see it. It could be in a thousand places." Then I realized I was verging on hysterical. Deep breath. It's lost. I did my best to find it but with no luck. Normally something like that wouldn't bother me but it was my tipping point. I said to myself, "Relax," and I did. We may never find it in his mound of stuff. It is likely gone forever but I refused to let it eat me up inside.

It was getting late and I was starting to fall apart. I wanted to write in my journal (the hard copy of my blog entries) because for some reason I have an irrational fear that I will forget everything. I'll forget his smell, what he looks like and everything we've been through. Writing my blog and looking at his pictures/mementos comforts me. It guarantees I wont forget. But to recount all that had happened over the past few days was agonizing. I knew I was going to lose my mind (and I did) so I told Reuben to keep the kids out of our bedroom. I didn't want them to see me in such a state. I grabbed a box of tissues, my pen and notebook and started on January 3rd. I cried so hard I was balled up on the ground with my forehead on the floor, rocking back and forth. I sobbed and wrote, determined for David's story to be told fully and honestly so that everyone would know of his strength. It took me hours of writing through my tears to finally get everything on paper. When I was done I snuck into the kids' room to say goodnight. Sleep for Reuben and I, however, did not come so easily. I lay in bed for hours thinking about what could have been. The process of mourning our son consists of more than mourning the 2 months we had with David. We also mourn all that could have been. We mourn him never learning how to talk or walk; we mourn him never going to kindergarten or graduating; we also mourn never seeing him on a soccer field or ice rink; we mourn, too, the missed smiles, laughter and hugs; we mourn the fantastic man I'm sure he would have grown to be. As I fall asleep I know that I am a better person for being his mother. David's legacy lives on in all those who knew and loved him. David is gone but will never be forget. Till we meet again sweet baby. Mommy loves you.

My facebook status: "Back in Kamloops. Such a weird feeling."