Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Life Can Change In An Instant

One year ago this month, I watched anxiously as my wife, Nicol, waited on the results of a home pregnancy test. Once she saw the results, there was no need for her to say a word. Her beeming eyes shouted, and her only-a-mother-can-smile-that-way expression told me what I was hoping to hear. Still, the verbal confirmation that I needed came quickly. "It's positive!" she gushed.

We relived our celebration from a few years earlier, when we had discovered that we were expecting our first child. We hugged. We jumped up and down. We congratulated each other. We laughed. We even shed a few happy tears. A group hug came next as we welcomed our daughter, Summer, to the party. Her inquisitive eyes looked up at us, seemingly wondering "what in the world has gotten into you two?" So we scooped her up in our arms and told her that she was going to be a big sister. It seemed obvious that she didn't grasp the significance of the news, but how could she? She was only 14 months old.

As I remember it, our celebration ended as we knelt beside the bed for a brief moment of prayer, thanking God for the incredible, miraculous gift of life. Another child... and who knows, maybe even a son. My heart couldn't help but go there.

It was a moment I will never forget.

Utter joy.

Life had changed in an instant.

Dreams were fulfilled.

New dreams were birthed.

Four months ago, on March 17 just before 9:00pm, our little man, Gregory Luke, was born. He came a little early, via c-section, because my wife, well, as her doc says, "makes big babies." (Our daughter was over 9 pounds; and it seems to run in her family because Nicol's siblings were all 9+ pounders too!) Anyway, our son had arrived. Mom did great. Big Sis was excited (the first thing she said when she saw him was, "Hold it!" - her way of saying "I want to hold him!" We got a good laugh out of her calling baby brother "it."). Grammy and Grampy, and Nana and Tata were thrilled. And Dad? I was proud... real proud.

Nine weeks ago, on May 27 at about 10:15pm, I heard Nicol's panicked, horrified voice shouting, "Oh my God! Oh my God! He's not breathing. Greg, come quick!"

Part of me would like to describe the scene to you. Part of me doesn't want to. Part of me simply can't. Maybe later. But probably never.

The short of it is that I sprinted up the stairs, and once I reached the top I saw Nicol holding Luke. There was no need for her to say anything. Her terrified eyes and only-a-mother-could-feel-so-desperate expression told me everything a parent would never want to hear. It was the polar opposite of the joy we had experienced when we found out Luke had been conceived. And then this gut-wrenchingly obvious fact nearly brought me to my knees... our lives had been changed forever.

Despite our efforts to resuscitate him, as well as those of the first responders, EMT's, and ER team, Luke was gone. No warning. No explanation. No opportunity to change it. Gone.

It was a moment I will never forget... as long as I live.

Utter horror. Excruciating pain. Anguish.

Life had changed in an instant.

Dreams were shattered.

New dreams were stolen before ever birthed.

Life can change in an instant... ours certainly has.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Please Be Gentle

The following poem was recently forwarded to me. Every now and then we are gifted with someone or something that speaks profoundly to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We find solace and encouragement as another gives voice to what we would say if only we were able to adequately express our thoughts and feelings.

For my wife and I, yes, even our family and closest friends, this poem does just that. Eight weeks ago, you see, we lost our 10-week-old son, Luke, to SIDS.

Shocked. Horrified. Helpless. Hopeless. Depressed. Sad. Angry. Terrified.

Comforted. Confident. Strengthened. Hopeful. Encouraged. Thankful. Joyful.

If you've ever faced tragedy the likes of which we're dealing with, you know the emotional roller coaster that accompanies it. We've encountered all the above over the past two months... and more. But words really don't begin to describe the depth of what we feel.

I'll be sharing our story as time goes on, as well as introducing the foundation we are in the process of establishing in Luke's honor.

Until later...

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1.3-4) (This is a post in itself)


Please Be Gentle
By Jill B. Englar

Please be gentle with me for I am grieving.
The sea I swim in is a lonely one
and the shore seems miles away.
Waves of despair numb my soul
as I struggle through each day.
My heart is heavy with sorrow.
I want to shout and scream
and repeatedly ask 'why?'
At times, my grief overwhelms me
and I weep bitterly,
so great is my loss.
Please don’t turn away
or tell me to move on with my life.
I must embrace my pain
before I can begin to heal.
Companion me through tears
and sit with me in loving silence.
Honor where I am in my journey,
not where you think I should be.
Listen patiently to my story,
I may need to tell it over and over again.
It’s how I begin to grasp the enormity of my loss.
Nurture me through the weeks and months ahead.
Forgive me when I seem distant and inconsolable.
A small flame still burns within my heart,
and shared memories may trigger
both laughter and tears.
I need your support and understanding.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
I must find my own path.
Please, will you walk beside me?