In the wee hours of the morning, two years ago (yesterday), our son Evan passed away in my arms. As I dozed off with him in my arms, I held my hand over his chest and felt his heart slow more and more.
Grant had held him first – the first baby he had ever held and the first time either of us was able to hold Evan. It was so bittersweet (that’s not even the right word) to see him so happy to be holding his son, but being devastated to know that we would need to say the words “we’re ready” in regards to the doctors and nurses to pull the plug on his ventilator later. His kidney had stopped working and dialysis was not working. Evan would continue to swell more and more and would die from kidney failure. We were warned that he would swell to the point where he was unrecognizable. With all of this talk, my mind went to one thing. I knew what all of this meant – we would finally be able to hold him. I didn’t fully associate this night with him dying. I was flooded and blinded by the idea that this meant we would be able to hold him for the first time. It never really occurred to me that it would be the last time. I guess I knew it would be, but it didn’t occur to my heart. My heart didn’t really comprehend the idea of our son dying. I think for Grant it did. I could see it in his eyes and his face. His son was going to die soon, and he felt that to be true. That came days and weeks later for me. I think it never seems real, for either of us, but our emotions seemed to be slightly different from each others. I remember so much about that night and those early morning hours. I remember so much about the entire hospital stay.
I kept checking Evan’s diaper to see if, by some miraculous event, he had peed. I was looking to see if his kidney had started working again. They told us it was possible that it would start again a few days earlier, but that it could take days or weeks. They explained that they would be able to perform dialysis on him, as long as it continued to work properly. Once it stopped working, there were no other options to make him better. Except, perhaps this miraculous event I was hoping for as we held him. Of course, that never happened, but I was pretty hopeful for it.
Now, two years later, I still remember all of those details. I remember the emotions. I remember how Evan opened his eyes and looked up at each of us during our turns of holding him.
Two years later, my observation that the days after an important milestone day are always the worst. That holds true still for this day. The night before the two year anniversary, I started feeling it very intensely. My anxiety increased more than usual, my chest got even more heavy than it usually is. I just felt it. We tried to decide on what we were going to do the next day, even if it was nothing. It always seems that it’s better to have a plan on a big day such as that. Even if the plan gets canceled on the day of, and you don’t feel like doing anything, that’s ok. We couldn’t decide the day before, but came up with a couple of options. When we woke up the day of, I realized why you make the plan ahead of time. None of our options seemed do-able. I kept saying all of them seemed second-rate; just not good enough. I knew that we didn’t need to do anything special per se, but trying to make the decision on the actual day was just not the way to go.
Lucky for us, we finally came up with a plan that we were both happy with. We went down to Mellow Mushroom in Richmond to eat lunch. We had first discovered Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville, during the stay at the hospital. We had a pretty great lunch. We left to run an errand and then headed to a local nursery to finally pick out our Evan tree. We love the idea of a red Japanese maple. There is something light and airy about them, plus they tend to stay red throughout most of the year and give a hint to Evan’s red hair :)
I think we picked a good one…
It is the perfect size for our smaller, town home-sized back yard. It will get about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. We already have it planted and will soon edge out a flower bed around it. I will finally be able to put in my Evan garden, and a big part of it will be our Evan tree. :) We are really happy with it.
The whole day itself wasn’t terrible. The weather was beautiful, we were out and about picking out our tree and planting it. Then we went to pick out and pick up materials for the next step in finishing the first floor of our home. And then we had some leftovers for dinner and spent some quiet time around home. We got some wonderful calls and messages from family and friends, just letting us know they were thinking about us and missing Evan. That means the world and makes the day that much more do-able.
Waking up this morning though, I feel the effects of yesterday. The days and weeks afterwards always seem to be the worst. And there’s been a lot of tough days in the past several months between the holidays, our birthdays, Evan’s birthday, and now we’ve passed the two year mark. We are now into year 3 without our son, and that itself sounds like the most insane statement. I cannot even fathom that right now. So I won’t.
We just miss him. We ache for him. We feel him physically missing from our lives every single day. There is no way to escape that constant, daily heaviness and tightness in our chests. It’s just how it is when you’re living without your child. Nothing will ever change that.
We love you so very much, Evan. We are always missing you and always loving you and always will, forever and ever. We think and talk about you all the time. You are so much a part of our lives, but not in the way we would like. We hold out hope that we will see you again one day. WE LOVE YOU :)