Last night I stood in my laundry room and folded our clothes. I reached into the basket and pulled out my son’s pajama bottoms, still warm from the dryer. I fold laundry almost every day, but I don’t usually do it after midnight. I set his pajamas on top of the pile and reached for the next item of clothing while swallowing back tears. There was some comfort in the warmth of the clothes and the monotony of the task. I couldn’t sleep. I was tired and I tried to settle my mind, but sadness and restlessness won out. So I traded crying in bed for folding laundry.
Ten years ago I had one of the worst nights of my life. I went to bed happy and content… filled with vanilla ice cream, hopeful expectation, and a tiny little baby burrowed safe inside me. But somewhere in the middle of the night everything changed. I woke up in sharp pain and couldn’t settle back down. I eventually drifted off only wake again to more pain and a weird, sick feeling. For hours I tossed and turned and tried to get comfortable. I looked up my symptoms in a book and woke my husband and tried to calm down. Nothing worked.
As the sun rose on September 16th I stumbled to the bathroom and started one of the worst days of my life, doubled over in pain while bleeding profusely. I looked up in shock at John. His eyes stared back at mine as he urged me, “don’t look” in a pain-filled whisper. I closed my eyes and buried my face into my hands while he went to get the phone and dialed the number to the hospital. My voice broke into a sob as I explained what was happening to the nurse on the other end of the line. She advised me to come to the emergency room.
We heard the most painful sentence uttered to frightened parents.
“I’m sorry, your baby has died.”
I had surgery.
They prescribed medication.
We returned home.
I’ve had ten years to process our loss. I’ve had ten years to see what a beautiful life God had planned for me after all. I’ve seen so much beauty come from the ashes of that day and I have experienced so much grace and mercy. But I still don’t fully understand it.
I still wonder why. My arms still ache to hold the baby who slipped from life ten years ago. My heart still wonders what he would have been if he could have stayed. And I can’t sleep because when the air loses its humidity and the children start school and the leaves start to turn, somewhere deep down my soul remembers. Somewhere deep down my heart forgets that it was ten years ago and not right now.
I thought I should do something today. I thought about going back to the field where our little cabin used to sit – the last place his small heart beat under mine. I thought about getting ten flowers to leave in that spot. I thought about balloons or candles or something to commemorate his birthday. But today I am tired. Today all of that feels too hard… too much… too forced.
Today I just want to take a nap, drink some coffee, and maybe cry for a little while and that’s okay. Because today it’s been ten years and somehow ten seconds all at the same time. Life doesn’t always go as planned and things can fall apart in the blink of an eye. I now know that broken hearts sometimes love the fiercest and grieving souls can be the strongest. A long, dark, lonely night preceded the sunrise… and today it stings to remember.
Happy Birthday Asher Stephen. Your mommy misses you.