Posted by: alegra22 | August 27, 2010

Wilderness of Heaven

Earlier this evening I sent a letter to a dear friend about the events of this past week. I ended it by saying, “There are so many stories, some of them actually funny, but for now – this is the dark gem I have to spit out.”

I feel like that now. Only there are multiple gems tumbling against my tongue and I don’t know how to isolate the right one to spit out on to the page.

This morning, I was sitting with Joaquin in my lap, all of the tubes gone from his face, waiting for Dan to pick us up from the hospital, when a beloved family member came to visit me. She said something to the tune of, “God must have some powerful things in store for you and your family because you sure have attracted the attention of the devil this month.”

My mind still hasn’t quite adjusted to being out of the darkness of the pediatric ward, surrounded by the blue curtains that sectioned us off from the three other babies we shared a room with. Tonight will be the first night in six nights that we haven’t slept on a single mattress on the floor, surrounded by the wails, screams, tantrums, coughs, middle-of-the-night choking sounds of the other sick babies. The beeps of machines. The nurses sweeping in with their flashlights and monitors. I am lost without the ritual of sanitizing my hands every five minutes. I close my eyes and I can still see the red flashing numbers of Joaquin’s heart rate and breathing. The tiny purple hearts covering the monitors taped to his soft, pale, baby-boy chest.

When I got home and caught up on emails, I had to delete several from BabyCenter updating me about my ‘eight month old and his progress’ and I found myself crying as if I had lost him. 

He is fine now. More than fine. He has discovered his right hand and waves to himself. He looks at me as if to say, “Can you believe this? Look at this! Look what I can do!” I am convinced that during the worst of his battle with RSV he was working things out in his head. He woke up and started crawling. And while he was visualizing his new mobility, he decided to grow five more teeth.

But he weighs less than he did a week ago. I watched his body change over the last few days. In the beginning, he was so tired he couldn’t move. He didn’t even fight when they inserted the feeding tube. On the day when things got the scariest, the nurses kept saying to me, “He is just so exhausted.” They had him on two sources of oxygen and he was still working too hard. The next step would have been to take him down to the ICU and let a machine breathe for him. The doctors and nurses were not giving us those reassuring, “But don’t worry, this is just a virus, this will pass.” They were saying things like, “We’re keeping a close eye. We’re doing all we can. He’s on the doctors’ priority list.”

I finally asked one of the nurses, “What does all of this mean? What happens if his breathing doesn’t settle?” She told me, “It’s like his body is running a marathon. He’ll get so exhausted he’ll just stop.”

That was the night I lost it. I nodded at her as if this made perfect sense and then I sat down and watched the numbers on his monitor as if by sheer will I could control them. An hour later I found myself at the end of the hallway, crouched in the corner, sobbing.

I don’t bargain with God. I pray, I confess, I get back to stumbling through the grace of my life. I remember to have faith.

I have now bargained twice with God. The first time was when I was hospitalized with a placental tear when I was thirty-two weeks pregnant with Zaviera. I made some promises that day, and I made promises again, crouched in the hallway of Ward 53.

Earlier in the day, Dan’s mum came in to see me. She had just watched the movie ‘What Dreams May Come’ and was describing the scene where the daughter searches out her father in heaven, only in this exquisite version of heaven, she has taken on another form so her father doesn’t recognize her right away.

That night in the hallway, I asked myself this: Would my children recognize me in the wilderness of heaven?

Since his birth, I have spent hours staring into Joaquin’s eyes. I hold him constantly, I sing to him, I hear the thoughts he doesn’t have words for yet. I would know him in heaven. Whatever his form, I would know him.

My promise to God that night was that I would never again have to ask myself that question about the people I love, starting with my husband and children. They will know my love regardless of my presentation: a dark gem in their hands, a field of flowers spread before them, they will be able to find me. We won’t lose one another in the wilderness of heaven.

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Responses

  1. I am so sorry to hear about your little guy being sick, but at the same time, so glad that he has recovered and is not resting in the comfort of his own home with his parents who love him unconditionally.

    It must have been so incredibly hard for you to deal with him being in hospital for such a long time.

    Trust in God, he will keep your little safe and strong and healthy.

    • Lauren,
      Thank you. And yes, now that we are back in the big ‘ole world I find myself having to breathe and let go/let God because every potential contact feels like a threat. Germs everywhere! *sigh*
      My husband and I will probably take up stock in hand sanitizer and household disinfectant.

  2. You always make me cry!

    • I swear, I am due to write a totally irreverent blog in the near future. :o)

  3. Heartbreaking. I love you.

    • I love you too, Mama

  4. Can’t read these beautiful pieces without crying. And I loved your letter.

    • ((love))

  5. Lucas discovered two (and a half) milestones while he was there as well.
    Fingers crossed we stay out and our babies continue to get better and stronger.

    • I agree! Let’s make it a point to NOT meet in a hospital next time we see one another. Although, I have to say I am so glad that you were there. It really eased that last leg of the journey to be able to see you and pop in for gossip and random bits of conversation. Nothing like the familiar face of a friend to bring comfort.

  6. You astound me. Your words, your ability to BE in these difficult moments and capture them with words and offer them up…

  7. Oh Alegra, so beautifully painful & heartbreaking… ((hugs))

  8. keep hangin in! you can do this!
    i know you’ve had some dark days, but the sun rises again tomorrow every day so far.
    prayers for a brighter patch just ahead.

    one day sometime soon, when you get some time alone, some grown up, me time… you’ll be proud of yourself!
    i am… i’m so proud of you!
    you’ve made it through and you do like Elisabeth Elliot said, “just do the next thing.”
    prayers for you sistafren!

  9. Gosh, I’m glad things are getting better. Coincidentally, just two days ago Pete had asked if I knew how all of you were doing. In my thoughts and prayers.

  10. Alegra,

    I am just now getting caught up on your posts and your life. All I can say is I am so sorry for everything you and your family has endured these past few months. I hope you are all turning the corner and starting to feel a little bit of peace. I will be thinking about you as you and Joaquin get caught up on much needed home time and good sleep.

    • Thank you Marian. It is good to hear from you. As I type, Joaquin is fast asleep on the bed next to me, and all is right in the world (although I could use some more sleep). xxx


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