It’s been a rough year. It’s been a rougher week. We joke that Roland is the only good of 2017, and I believe it now more than ever. We found ourselves in San Francisco this past weekend to say goodbye to Mike, James’ best friend since childhood. I was hesitant to write this post, as it’s a bit heavy for a blog about the adventures of motherhood. I can’t not write about this experience though because the more I think about it, the more I realize it has everything to do with motherhood.
When we made arrangements to fly out to California, we had less than 12 hours before boarding the plane. My husband James had to take a trip to the Department of Vital Records to get a copy of Roland’s birth certificate for the plane while I packed for the girls to stay with their grandparents. Roland was so awesome on the 5-hour plane ride and didn’t make a peep. He was the perfect distraction as we were anxious about the reality that awaited us on the other side of the country.
We went to the hospital right after landing. Mike’s family was waiting for friends and family to come to town to say goodbye before taking the final steps needed in Mike’s care to prepare for organ donation. As we stood around the bed, I saw Mike’s mom take his hand. She rubbed it and worried about whether he was warm enough. At that moment the immensity of a mother’s love hit me. There I was holding my baby in my arms who had just entered this world watching Mike’s mother look at her baby who was leaving this world. I was in awe of her as I watched how she fought to make sure that the decisions being made were the decisions Mike would have wanted, especially regarding being able to donate his organs even when it was more taxing on her own grief (the process drew out the family’s ability to say goodbye for the last time for several days). This mother loved her son to the fullest to the very end, and it was heartbreaking.
In the days that followed, we made several trips to the hospital and spent time with Mike’s friends and family outside of the hospital. Having Roland around was joy therapy for everyone. He got passed around and generously shared smiles and snuggles and even sleep with anyone who was in need. Mike’s dad especially loved holding and playing with Roland as he shared stories about how Mike was as a baby. It was sometimes hard to get Roland back from him when it was time to leave, and every time I felt a lot of sadness leaving Mike’s dad there emptyhanded and in the presence of such devastating loss.
I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child, and I hope I never have to know, not now, not in 30 years, and not ever. Our babies are our babies forever, and they can be taken from us without notice. I assure you my babies are getting lots of extra hugs and kisses and patience these days. It was such a joy to have Roland with us in this difficult time. He brought smiles that we didn’t know were manageable. It was a terrible situation, but the silver lining was watching my baby boy provide a little bit of joy in the darkness.