Getting ready to move, and I found a box of things I kept from the hospital after Gavin died…
Inside was a picture one of the nurses took of me holding him as we said goodbye. It was an interesting experience, seeing that again. Anyone else would likely have struggled to look at the image…found it morbid, probably.
His edema made his skin taught and paper thin. He was intubated and covered from top to bottom in tubes and wires (the highest IV was in the skin of his head and the lowest was inserted into the top of his right foot—then there were countless other tubes and wires littered across the space in between—so, in this case, “from top to bottom” is not used as a figure of speech). His coloring shows clear evidence of how close death loomed—literally moments away.
I’ve never been able to look at the picture myself for longer than a glance without turning my head, and I am his mother. . .
But this time was different.
I not only found myself able to look at the image, but I lost myself inside of it.
For the first time ever, I looked at that boy, in that physical state, and I didn’t want to turn away. In truth, for the first time ever, I saw so.much.beauty there.
The image didn’t disturb me at all. . .there was so much love in my heart— longing, yes, and also abundant love—overwhelming in proportion.
I wept tears of joy at the peace I had found.
I share this for those who mourn—no matter the cause.
I share this for those who are in the darkest parts of the trauma called “grief.”
There is hope.
There is another side of the tunnel called grief—for it is, as they say, a tunnel, not a cave (though I know there are days, weeks, months, years even when it certainly does not feel that way).
Someday, you will be able to open the box of the darkest hours of memory, and the terror will be gone.
There will always be remnants of sorrow and pain, it is evidence of our very humanity, evidence of the depth of our love, but the terror, the horror, the racing heart, the crushing in your chest, the inability to recall and look at certain events of your past without the threat of complete physiological and emotional overwhelm. . . that can change.
The change comes in and through a God, a literal Father in Heaven, who knows and loves you perfectly.
Exercise patience (though I know, the wait can be excruciating).
And through his perfect love and grace, you can find peace, even understanding, to free you from that darkest part of the grief and pain by which you are bound.
I KNOW this is true, for I have lived it.
It took a miracle, but thankfully, we live in a world that is full of those.