Today I googled the neonatologist who signed Joshua's death certificate. It has been 10 years, so I wasn't sure where she would be. It turns out she is on the west coast now. She has been for the last 8 years. No reason to find her, or see her face, or figure out what she is doing now. Just one of those strange emotional impulses. I'm really not a stalker (much).
She is in a specialty medical group helping critically ill newborns and researching respiratory support for sick little babies. I'm so thankful for those who are investing their lives into this field. It amazes me. Really, I can't imagine…
I am thankful for Dr. N, and her soft spoken and straight forward ways. We were in contact with her for 3 short (but oh-so-long) months, but of course she will have a lasting impact on us. There were 7 neonatologists that we worked with. It could have been any of them on duty that night, but I believe that it was her for a reason. There was a lot of compassion, and it was needed. She was kind and gentle, but she did not sugar coat anything. I am grateful for that because, believe me, if anyone would have thrown out any manner of false hope, heaven knows I would have clung to it stubbornly with all that I had.
So, she told us that there was some hope of possibly keeping him alive for maybe a few more days. Maybe. With intense medical intervention. And then she laid out the facts. His kidneys were non functioning. He was on a high frequency ventilator getting an absurd amount of breaths per minute. He was on a constant morphine drip. He was in pain. His little body was swollen to twice its previous size. *shudder* That was hard.
She let us break all kinds of rules that day; letting family and friends filter in and out throughout the whole day. Letting anyone and everyone hold him.
Oh, holding him was hard. I wish I would have felt something that day - just let all of the raw emotions flow through my arms, and feel his warmth and his softness. I felt nothing. I held him and put him back in Dave's arms, and would eventually hold him again. And feel nothing. Sometimes my cheeks were wet, but it felt strange - like some one else's tears were falling down my face.
I guess I could do numb. I couldn't do what January 12th 2003 was demanding me to do, but I could do numb.
She came on duty later in the day, I think. She would just be there, doing little tasks here and there. Then she would be gone when we needed privacy. Her intuition was greatly appreciated.
I don't think she knew that we had finally made the choice she had been inquiring about, until all of our family was gone. The doctors needed to know… They wouldn't push or demand, but we had been asked what our wishes were. He was too small for a kidney transplant or dialysis, or anything like that. They laid it out plainly a few times… and they waited.
I wrapped him so carefully, and she slowly removed each tube and wire form his little shell of a body. She smiled and I saw glistening moisture in the corners of her eyes. I'm sure this had happened, in her line of work, over and over and over again. We found out later that she had slipped out of NICU room #2 and went into a private spot in NICU room #3 and sobbed. I don't know what kind of thoughts she was processing that night. Her authentic emotions were comforting to me though, and I think they helped begin to thaw mine.
The flannel gown that she brought Joshua had a butterfly on it. I still have it, because our dear friend, Chris made a custom designed gown for Joshua to be buried in. So the flannel one that he had on while we held him and said our final goodbyes is now folded neatly as a keepsake. The butterfly on the front is made out of medium blue ribbon. It makes me think about spring and new life and growth.
It makes me think about where we are at now.
It makes me think about beauty bursting forth from a pile of ashes.
It makes me think about Jesus,
Right now it is winter here in mid Michigan, and when I look out my window I see two colors; brown and white. All of the bright green vegetation, and vibrant flowers are not necessarily dead. Much of it is waiting. In a state of dormancy. Expectation. Sometimes everything has to die, or appear dead, before it can truly live and thrive and burst forth with beauty. Like a butterfly.
My heart is full of thankfulness for the fact that God gave us Joshua, and one of the main reasons I can say I am thankful to have experienced his life and death is that he has rearranged my heart, changed my priorities, and showed me Jesus. Would I care so much about heaven? Would it be so real to me? Would that veil which separates where we are now from our final destination be so thin? I think not.
The winter of my heart has most definitely turned to spring. The thawing process and the Beginning to Feel was excruciating. Yes.
But I would not trade it for anything. I neither believe that it was God's plan for Joshua to die nor do I think he said, "Wendi needs a more eternal perspective, I will give her a baby and then take him back after 10 days in order for her to learn, for her eyes to be opened, for her heart to feel more, to show her myself."
-But instead I think that as his heart wept for me, and as he allowed the ripple effect of the sins of human kind to touch one of his beloved, he cradled my heart in comfort and said, "This will not go in vain. What was meant to harm you will be used in a million ways to strengthen you, and most importantly - to shine my light in this tainted world. Your spring will come."
Missing you Joshua David. 1-2-03 - 1-12-02