When I think about a year ago, this past week was the one in which I most prepared to have a son who would die. Once we found out Samuel had a heart defect, we did not do any investigation to learn more about the diagnosis. We knew that the initial diagnosis from my OB's office was a best guess, and the perinatologist seemed very unconvinced that her differing diagnosis was accurate. So Bryan and I decided to wait until we heard from the pediatric cardiologist to do any research, to google anything, etc. We didn't want to go down some road we didn't have to travel. So we waited. In those 6 days of waiting, I was prepared for the worst. I was aware that my son could die. I was aware that he was not mine but was God's. I was aware that I had to have open hands. And I trusted God to see us through whatever was ahead. I am deeply thankful, looking back, that I had those 6 days to prepare my heart to lose my son. I don't think I would have had the courage to dwell in that place if we'd heard right away that there was a 95% success rate, and in all likelihood, we'd be bringing home a healthy baby after a few really rough weeks at the very start of his life. Those days, more than any other, prepared me for the life we have found ourselves living.
On the desk in front of me is the one picture of me holding Samuel, just the two of us. I find my eyes keep drifting up there. Bryan took it about 45 minutes after he was born. I bet I had him in my arms for less than a minute. I barely got a look at him. I didn't know I would never again get to see his living face unencumbered by tubes and tape. And little did I know that those would be the only moments of hope-filled holding I would do. The next time I would hold my son, he would be the size of a 6 month old from all the swelling, covered by tape, tubes, and a dozen wires, and on his way out of this life and into the eternal hereafter. How short our time together was.
On Good Friday, I kept thinking about Jesus dying and how God chose it. God willingly gave up His son for me, for Samuel. When I think of the agony we endured in August, watching our son die, my heart falters imagining God opening up His hands and sacrificing His perfect son for a very imperfect and fallen people. He gave up the one He loved for the beings He created -- the very beings who rejected Him, betrayed Him, doubted Him, cursed Him. I can't begin to imagine giving up my son for anyone, much less for a people who were cruel, broken, sinful, and full of pride. Jesus' death means more to me than ever before. He died on that cross for me and for my sons. And God's sacrifice as a father...it humbles me and brings me to my knees before Him.
Just as Good Friday has grown in significance for me, Easter also holds more meaning and joy than ever before. Jesus' resurrection is what I pin my hopes on. Because Jesus rose again and conquered death, Samuel will rise again, and someday I too will rise and see my sweet son once more. Though the hope of Heaven has always been a part of my faith, it's personal now. There is someone in Heaven I can't wait to see again. Because of Jesus, Samuel is more a part of my future than of my past.
It's been a big week, and I think it will be a few more weeks before I'll be able to really let the significance of these anniversaries settle. They all still feel astir in my soul. And though it's been a hard week in many ways, it's also been a good week. Easter feels kindly timed to remind me of the hope that is ahead. And we had a great Easter in many ways. My cousin, Emily, joined us for the weekend, and that helped lift our spirits a lot. She is a joy, and Caleb and Joel are crazy about her. When she left on Sunday evening, I immediately felt myself deflating. All the energy that buoyed me up while she was here vanished as the door closed behind her. I guess that's part of grief. Every high is followed by a noticeable low. I felt the weight of grief crashing back down. But these days grief feels more manageable than it once did. Though I was burdened, I didn't feel like I was suffocating, and that's major improvement.
Truly, our weekend was full of smiles. Here is some proof: