Today is Zeke's birthday--happy birthday to my baby in Heaven...
On January 30th of this year, I drove through treacherously snow-filled mountains. Flakes shot down, forming an unwanted curtain around the truck. My eyes darted to the right of the canyon, but I could barely see, let alone remember any turnouts in that area. The lights from a huge semi bounced off the road behind us, shining increasingly closer. That driver loved tail-gating people--for a living. Who gave that idiot a CDL? But I didn't say the words aloud; instead, I white-knuckled the steering wheel in terror and realized from the icy breath of my family around me, they were terrified too.
And maybe they should have been. This was an unlucky day for us--the same day my son died 13 years before.... Normally each year I'd visit his grave, read my journal--the book I wrote about him. (More about that HERE.)
But this January, I didn't do any of that. After all it's his Death Day. I don't want to go back to that damn memory--of a hospital that reeks of iodine and rubbing alcohol. Those stupid machines whirring and beeping to keep OTHER parents' kids alive. But. Not. Mine. Because the damn doctors said he would never live. THEY said he'd die despite all their fancy gadgets and his will to live. His fight...was for naught. So he died that day, amidst the stench of medicine, after my ex-husband and I removed him from life support, and he suffocated in our arms....
As I drove through the snow-infested mountains, with the wind nearly ripping our truck from the road, I couldn't help thinking about Zeke. I shook my head telling myself not to. This drive was dangerous enough, without me trying to see through tears as well.
But what happened next, surprised me.
This year, I didn't recall all of the sad circumstances of his death. Instead, I simply remembered a specific day nearly a month before he died.
Zeke's nurse had said I could hold him in a rocking chair. Right before she was about to pass him to me, he started crying really hard. Another nurse came by and said I shouldn't hold him, that they needed to up his vent settings. But I pleaded, BEGGING them to let me hold my baby. So they handed him to me.
I rocked so slowly, careful since he had so much tubing in him. And instead of crying harder like they'd thought he might, he melted into my arms, as if he was always meant to be there. I put my pinkie near his hand and he wrapped his little fingers around it, holding on so damn tight. Tears filled my eyes as I rocked him forever. And in that moment, it didn't matter how sick he was or how hard this was. We loved each other. Nothing could take that away, not time, not sickness, not death. And that moment, admist the stench of medicine and all those whirring machines...that was a perfect moment.
I could hardly believe it had been 13 years this January. I blinked, focusing on the road ahead. The weather began clearing a little, and it wasn't quite so terrifying.
After we were safely home and all of the kids were in bed, I told my husband about the memory. "I can't remember the complete details of the bad parts of Zeke's life anymore, but I do remember every detail of when I held him in the rocking chair for the first time."
Mike squeezed my hand.
"It's crazy, Mike, but I feel so much peace right now. When time has passed and everything else is gone, all that remains--all that really matters--is love."
And so now when I think of Zeke, the memory of his love is in the forefront of my mind. I hope that's what he remembers about me as well....