Monday, July 25, 2011

31 Days

Today is our Anna-girl's 31st day of life.  Our sweet Samuel died on his 31st day of life.  Samuel died at 9:08 in the morning, so our Anna has now lived longer than our son.  Today I am cuddling Anna a little closer and putting her down a little less.  She's wearing one of the very few clothing items we ever got for Samuel; it seemed fitting for this day.

At 4:30 this morning when my alarm went off to go feed Anna, I stumbled blearily down the hall in a fog.  Once I settled in the glider and was snuggling Anna close, I reflected back on our alarm waking us in the wee hours of Samuel's last day.  We woke to the heavy weight of truth -- our extremely sick son a long hall away from us, another day of waiting for the inevitable.  Our walk down the hall was somber and weighty, tinged with fear and the unknown.  When we entered the CICU, we relieved Erik and Marta, Bryan's brother and sister, from night duty, and within minutes we got the news: this was it.  Samuel was dying this morning.  Walking into Anna's room couldn't have been more different.

And holding Anna was a far cry from holding Samuel that rainy morning.  Samuel was stiff, swollen, artificially paralyzed, hooked up to countless machines, and he smelled of death.  It took 3 people to maneuver his lines and machines so we could hold him without accidentally stopping his breathing machine.  He never moved a limb or opened an eye -- he couldn't on the paralytic.  And holding him was filled with grief.  Anna, on the other hand, I scooped up out of her crib while she engaged in some serious stretches, one of my favorite things to watch her do.  She squirmed in my arms, smelled of the bath I gave her a few hours earlier, made continual grunts as she worked on filling her diaper, cried when I changed her, and breathed the deep sighs of contentment when she was nursing.  Her body sank into the contours of mine, and she exhibited every sign of life and health and well-being.  Looking at her, I thanked God for the gift she is, and I missed my dear, sweet Samuel tremendously.

At 8:00 am, when I was feeding her again, and an hour at which I was holding Samuel nearly two years ago on Aug. 31, I opened my Bible to Job and read the verses we chose for Samuel's grave marker: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21).  The Lord gave us Samuel, and He took him away, and we praised Him still.  Now we are once again in a season of blessing; the Lord has given us Anna, and we praise His name.  She, too, is ultimately God's, and we are thankful for however long we have to love her on this earth.  Whatever this life holds, we will continue to bless His name.  And we rejoice in this season of abundance, "when the world's all as it should be," and it's easy to do.

Since we can't have a photo of all our children together, we decided to put their handprints all in one place.  We originally made this when the boys met Samuel in the hospital.  When Anna was 3 days old, we added her handprint to the top left.

Anna on her 31st day of life

Today is the first day I've been able to get a bunch of smiles from Anna.  I'm so thankful for her life, a beautiful reason to smile!

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