A few days before Samuel's birthday I was watching a show called Bunheads about a ballet studio and the people who dance there. In the episode, someone's son had unexpectedly died, and the high school dancers wanted desperately to "do something" for the mom, so they choreographed a dance just for her. It's a beautiful scene, and it left me weeping. My emotions totally took me by surprise. It stirred up in me the sorrow of the mom -- such desperate grief and overwhelming loss, and it also reminded me of the many people who "just did something" for us -- the myriad of ways in which people served and loved us. I was so moved by the show, that I actually cried myself to sleep. Poor Bryan wondered what in the world had happened to me when I climbed into bed sobbing.
The next day Caleb and my mom had a creative date on skype to work on their 5 book series they're writing together. It's Caleb's brainchild, and my mom is compiling his ideas in a notebook so they can hopefully turn it into a bound work someday. It's an impressive plan about robots who secretly live in our house and protect us. It takes place during WWII (hence our need for protection), and each member of our family has a robot. Caleb was parked at the kitchen table chatting away with my mom while I was making dinner. When Caleb started telling Mom that Samuel has a robot too, and that Samuel's robot has a secret weapon called "Epic Escape," I found myself crying into the pot of noodles on the stove. I love that Samuel is still part of our family for Caleb.
After my two showers of tears, I thought perhaps I was more ready for August 1st than I'd previously expected. I thought maybe it would be a fairly do-able day afterall. So I was caught off-guard when it was such a teary day. I cried and cried and cried. It was good crying -- the healing kind, but I was not expecting the day to be so wet. It was a sweet day in lots of ways, but it was harder than I had expected for sure.
We made a birthday cake for Samuel, and Bryan and the boys designed and decorated it. They decided to put a sun and clouds on the cake and an owl flying in front of the sun like in Bryan's owl painting. Joel wanted there to be three sunbeams since Samuel would have been three. It was a fun time working on the cake, and the boys were excited to eat it. My mom had sent us money to go out for Samuel's birthday, and she said the boys should pick a restaurant they think Samuel would have liked; they picked Red Robin. They loved eating there and celebrating our birthday boy in that way. Once we got home, we wrote messages to Samuel on balloons and released them in the backyard. All in all, it was a precious time remembering and celebrating the life of Samuel. I am glad we have traditions as a family of celebrating our boy and that Caleb and Joel feel like it's a fun day. It's what we've hoped for.
|I love this picture of 3 of my boys.|
|At Red Robin|
|Watching the balloons fly away|
On Friday we headed down to Egleston Children's Hospital with lots of cookies for the doctors and nurses of the CICU. Ahead of time, I was willing to forego our Egleston tradition, but I'm so glad we went. Bryan and I both found ourselves taking deep breaths and sighs in the elevator from the parking garage to the lobby of the hospital. It's always hard to go back, and we call it a full-sensory experience. All of our senses spark memories of our month there with Samuel. From the smells of the handsoap to the sound of the double doors releasing to the brightly painted walls and yellow linoleum floors to the feel of the textured walls in the elevator, there is something around every corner to churn up some memory. My heart always feels clenched when I walk in and especially when I walk down the hall to the CICU. But once I'm there and smiling at the receptionist and greeting one of Samuel's doctors, I'm so glad to be back. It's good to remember, even if some of the remembering is hard. We got to see one of the doctors who was very kind to us during Samuel's life and who seemed genuinely happy to see us, and best of all, we got to see Richard, our very favorite nurse and the one I prayed would be with us when Samuel actually died. (God answered that prayer.) It was so good to give him a hug and watch him shower our boys with kindness once again. We enjoyed our short time in the CICU, and on the ride back home, we both expressed how glad we are that we return every year.
|Anna "helping" me in the kitchen with the cookies|
|With Dr. Sri and Nurse Richard|