Friday, August 29, 2014

No words...

This time last week I was full of big plans for beginning of the school year blog posts.  I took pictures of my classroom to share how we make the Conscious Discipline structures work in a specials setting. I wanted to write about my hopes and fears for the year ahead as I entered the second half of my teaching career.  I planned to write about the back to school nightmares teachers typically have as that first day approaches.

And then my heart broke.

Last Saturday I received a call from my best friend Angela.  She was on the way to the hospital with her sweet, sweet, 5-month-old baby boy Sam.  John and I rushed out the door and up the highway through a torrential downpour.  I called my mother, who I knew to be at the beach with her sisters, and begged her to pray.  As John drove, all I could think was, "please, God... please."  But Sam didn't make it.

I've been trying to think about if/what/how I should write about everything that's happened this week.  What I've realized is that right now my thoughts are very disorganized, and where words fail I have images that continue to flit through my mind:

  • Despite our great sadness (which doesn't seem like a strong enough word) at Sam's death, we've continued to laugh and play with his 2-and-a-half-year-old sister each day.  This week she's struggled to understand what's happened to Sam.  She just knows that her parents are upset and that lots of people keep coming to the house.  But she's also learned to make bubble beards at bath time with Deanna, that my husband John is "silly", and has embraced the story hand I love you ritual that I showed her Saturday night and created her own version, which now includes both hands and ends with her saying, "and all these things go TOGETHER."  I'm not sure how she landed on that ending, but it seems fitting.  Crying, laughing...  bubble beards and story hands...  somehow all of these things do go together.
  • A couple of years ago our friend Deanna seemed to suddenly make a decision to take part in a chaplaincy program at WakeMed hospital.  I know that she didn't make the decision lightly (she never does), but it seemed random at the time.  I even remember hearing her say, "I'm not sure why I'm doing this, but I am."  As you know, I've spent the past two years learning more and more about Conscious Discipline.  I wasn't sure why I suddenly latched onto it when I did, but I could sense it was an important journey.  I now feel like we both did those two things to be better equipped to help Angela on Saturday.  Deanna knew the hospital program and sat with Angela, guiding her through the day and what to expect next.  I sat in the waiting room with her daughter, knowing that she needed consistency and a familiar face, playing with her, noticing her, and when she began to question where her parents were I held her and said, "You want to see Mama and Papa.  They're busy right now.  They want you to stay with Rachel so she can keep you safe.  I know it's hard, but we can handle it together."   When I think about Deanna, it's always felt odd that there were two of us in Angela's life, but we couldn't have made it through this week if there'd only been one of us.  
  • We held the funeral service last night.  Afterward I watched the visitation line and worried about Angela as person after person hugged her and began to cry.  I couldn't have stood it.  But when I talked to her later she said it was exactly what she'd needed.  This reminds me that different people grieve in different ways and that there's comfort in shared grieving with friends.  
  • At last night's service Angela had asked that several pictures of Sam be placed on a table at the front of the room.  Covering the table were 2 blankets, one that his Aunt Katie had never quite finished and one that I had crocheted for him while Angela was pregnant.  On the day that Sam was born I was teaching but eager to get to the hospital as soon as my work day was over.  I kept checking my phone for updates as we awaited his arrival.  All of a sudden I got a stomach bug.  I tried to ignore it, but eventually our school secretary looked at me and said, "girl, you need to go home," which my teammate followed up with, "and you can't go see that baby like this!"  I was heartbroken.  I wanted to see my friend and I wanted to hold her baby boy.  The stomach bug stretched itself out over the next several days, and each day I would grow more frustrated at not being able to meet Sam.  Finally Angela sent me a picture of him sleeping on the blanket I'd made him.  I remember thinking that if I couldn't hold him myself, that was the next best thing.  So yesterday during the service I kept remembering how I'd prayed for Sam over the weeks that I spent making that blanket.  And when Deanna and I started to pack everything up after the visitation I held the blanket as tears silently fell.  Without realizing it at first, I held the blanket the way I held Sam - just slightly to the left (heartbeat to heartbeat) - and I rocked from side to side.  
  • When I think back on Saturday I keep remembering Angela's husband Edi weeping and repeating the phrase, "I didn't know what to do."  And so if you've stuck with me this far into this entry I'm asking you to consider something.  There are frequently points in time when we're offered the opportunity to do FirstAid/CPR/AED training.  I've done it a couple of times through work now.  I'm asking this - when that opportunity arises for you again, please, please do the training.  The world needs more people who know what to do until EMS can get there.
These are just a few of the things that are working their way around in my mind right now.  But I'd like to close this way - there's a Red Grammer song that we sometimes use to celebrate birthdays at school.  It's been playing on repeat in my mind with Sam's name inserted...

On the day that Samuel was born
On the day that Samuel was born
On the day that Samuel was born
The angels sang and blew on their horns
And they danced, they danced
They smiled and they raised up their hands
On the day, on the day that Samuel was born.

1 comment:

  1. You are amazing, Chica. You've been a true friend this week and a gentle support to all around you. The way you've processed your emotions here and yet noted sweet moments is nothing short of beautiful, as are you. I love you. I always have but I am in awe of the person you've become.