I held him a little closer tonight. I took in everything I could about his hair, cherub cheeks, chubby gator paw hands, how sweet he looks when he’s asleep, and of course breathed every moment in while he sang to me for awhile. We have been blessed with so much “extra” time with him that in the day to day I can sometimes forget to be thankful in each moment. Tonight our reality hit close to home, and it feels like my heart is pounding right out of my chest – that it’s been ripped out, and I can only imagine the pain felt by the parents of our little friend who earned his angel wings today.
We were blessed to meet such a sweet family. Baby Lawson’s parents are sweet, kind, gentle, loving, graceful, courageous and just amazing people. Kyle & Mindy Herbert were gracious enough to open up and let us in on their journey with their son Lawson. http://www.facebook.com/fortheloveoflawsonhebert?ref=ts&fref=ts I think about the day I got to hold him for like an hour, and I think about it often. That precious little face I got to look at up close and personal, and I know I was lucky to meet one of God’s special angels and hold him in my arms. I didn’t want them to leave. I just related to them so much, it felt like we were really “family”. It’s hard to understand the difficult choices we face as parents of a medically fragile child, even though we feel the love and empathy from those who care about us – to find someone who really does understand can be tough.
Mindy and I were texting back and forth when I found out Lawson was hospitalized for pneumonia. I knew I had to be there for them… I remember the first time we had to bring Braden “back” to the hospital after our NICU release. It was terrifying, confusing, exhausting and I just wanted to be there for them. I had training scheduled all weekend, so when we texted on Friday, we decided I would come to the PICU Saturday evening after training. Today I learned the value of every precious HOUR. Lawson would earn his wings before I could leave work today. My heart sunk when I got a text from her sister. I froze. I got numb. I got hot. I could barely breathe. I would not get to kiss that precious boy one more time. The guilt. I should have gone last night to see them, I should have just rearranged and gone. So I get mad, then another wave of guilt, another round of hot, searing tears. And I am reminded that for whatever the reason, I was not meant to be there.
My mind takes me back to the day I lost my friend Stacie. I got the call she finally succumbed to esophageal cancer a mere 15 minutes after I left her room at the hospital that morning. But God’s plan is perfect. Braden was in the hospital at the same time Stacie was in her last days – and I got to see her every day. I am SO grateful for that time and that chance to bid farewell to an amazing person. If Braden had not been that sick, I know I would not have gotten all that time with her in the end. It’s all in his plan and all for his purpose. Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in it’s time”.
So I calm down again, breathe, and say another prayer for Kyle & Mindy. If my pain is this great, I cannot fathom what they are enduring at this moment. Then my own fears about our son kick in too. I can’t help it. I know that we too will be in the same “club” with Kyle & Mindy one day. Hopefully it will be later and not sooner, and that we will get to see Braden turn seven. Perhaps some of the grief I am feeling is for my own future loss. So I’m grieving really for two things at the same time. I think sometimes when you grieve, you also grieve the losses you’ve suffered before this moment too. It can be overwhelming. But then our friends pick us up and we try to put the pieces back together as best we can. Sometimes a minute at a time, then an hour, and soon enough you can find entire days where you are not overwhelmed by this loss.
Can I please ask a favor to those of you who will know of someone who has suffered a loss? Please give the family some time, a day, a few days if needed to let them process the loss and make their own announcement about it before posting your condolences on their pages? Please consider that announcements like that are typically made on their own pages after the entire family has been notified. It hurt me to see that other people wouldn’t consider something like that before posting. Please don’t misunderstand me – every kind word means the world to the person receiving it. But also understand that it is the place of the FAMILY to make that announcement publicly and sharing it via social media. Please give them this opportunity to share with the “world” when THEY are ready to do that. I couldn’t imagine how my own family would feel if a friend had called to check on us and I offered the information of a loss – and the friend went and posted condolences on our pages before family had been notified. Unless asked, it’s just not right, or your place to do that. Take a moment in this instant notification society, to consider what the family is going through, and everything that may need to take place on their end first, to respectfully notify their own family.
Let me end here… Savor the precious moments and memories. Say “I love you” before you get off the phone. Hug & kiss them goodbye – every time. Send them a text to tell them you are thinking of them. And certainly don’t waste an opportunity to leave things left unsaid when you care about someone. We know all too well how short and precious life can be. I hope we do our very best to make the most of the moments we are given. I hope the people in my life that are dear to me know just how special they are to me. I hope I gave my sincere effort to share with others loving kindness, humor & laughter, joy, appreciation of self, a positive perspective on our own circumstance, insight and discernment. Don’t wait for tomorrow.