January 7, 2010
I remember walking out of the hospital room after he died. I remember each step in vivid detail. Richie and I walked, our arms wrapped tightly around one another—I leaned my weight heavily against him, trying to keep myself from falling to the ground. “I feel like Adam and Eve,” I’d said. “We’re on our way into the lone and dreary world. Nothing will ever be the same.”
News like this spreads like wildfire. As soon as I went radio silent on the www, speculations were rampant. I started getting messages from strangers offering me Valium and other strange narcotics. Thankfully, I was cognizant enough to know that this would be nothing more than putting a fairy band aid on a gaping wound (and thankfully my momma taught me right, “Just say, ‘no’”). We waked into the hotel room, where Richie helped me bind my breasts with an ace bandage. Practicality still reigned sovereign. I was a nursing mom. I’d been pumping every 2 hours since he’d been admitted to the PICU, and I was in a lot of pain.
Then we climbed into bed, wrapped our arms around each other. . . and cried.
I did sleep that night. I know I did, because I remember waking up. I remember waking up and groaning at the throbbing in my chest. I slipped out of bed and into the bathroom, where I tried to gently unwrap myself. I screamed from the pain—I’m not sure if it was the physical pain, the broken heart, or a combination of everything, but I let out a scream the size of Texas.
Later that morning, my parents arrived. They’d booked us flights home later that day. They’d arranged for Gavin’s body to be shipped on the same flight from Salt Lake City to Honolulu. God bless her, my mom didn’t want us to be separated. I still don’t know what percentage of a fortune this cost them, but gosh am I grateful.
I just lay on the couch as everyone discussed the details of the day. I’d say I was numb, but that would be lazy writing. I wasn’t numb. I felt. I felt every breath in my body, every beat of my heart. I could feel my cells regenerating, my blood pumping, the growth of my hair. No I wasn’t numb, only incapacitated. Completely incapable of anything but cellular function . . . to breathe in and out.
I don’t know why I’m telling you this story, except that I am.
I’ve never known how to describe the way that day felt in words. I pray to God you never have to learn for yourself.
Nearly 2 years later, I received a forwarded email from my friend, Jon. A stranger had written a song.
“I wrote a song late one night after following the story of your friend Natalie losing her little baby. I wrote it quick and recorded it quick to try and not lose the tension I was feeling after reading of her heartbreaking loss. It’s a personal thing… something I can never really comprehend.”
Again, all this time later, I found myself wrapped in Richie’s arms, silent sobs rising from my chest.
Little did this man know, he’d written the words of my soul.
Ryan Tanner, Salt Lake City Rain.