When I put together the "Josh & Jill" video over the weekend, I relived the entirety of Josh's short & powerful life. I (and I imagine this may be common among bereaved parents in general) have this dichotomy inside me: I have a powerful need to do whatever I can to remember Josh and his life; at the same time I do what I can to preserve my (relative) sanity by avoiding reliving things like the night he died over and over again.
Do you know how certain memories are filled with a type of un-categorizable emotion? Like a song in the background, but felt rather than heard? Something that marks that memory in such a way that it provides a special & unique marker? Almost like you could identify the memory just by the feeling it provides.
I used to have that only for memories of my youth; getting ready for one of my parents parties and listening to the talking heads, or playing with my transformers, or countless other childhood memories.
It's a special gift that I now have for most, if not all, of Josh's life. I watch the slideshow and relive Josh's first days. My utter fear both for him and of him. My fear that both of these children living in the NICU at a bajillion dollars a day was going to bankrupt us.
It takes me longer than Sandy to really bond with my children. I loved them all from the start, but there's the love of one's new baby (or babies) and then there's the love of a parent for their child. Sandy seems to make this transition immediately, which terrified me because God, am I such a terrible person? Josh needed more from his parents than any other child I've known, and he's my child. How is it that Sandy seems to be so in love with this child from the start, and what I'm mainly feeling is trepidation?
But here's the secret: A child with special needs is an amazing gift. Every tiny, insignificant accomplishment of theirs makes you squeal with joy. I can't begin to explain the joy I felt at his first real big smile. I thank God that is on video, and I can watch it whenever I want.
I want to share a couple of my memories of Josh with you all -- maybe we can relive some of his life together.
When Christy, Sandy's sister, first saw Josh laying there in his little bed (was it the incubator or the warmer bed? I don't know anymore) her eyes welled up with tears and she brought her hand to her mouth as she said "He's precious". I love her for that. It makes me cry just thinking of it, and I will always hold this memory close to my heart.
That's the thing: If I had only known how beautiful he was at that moment, much of Josh's earlier days would have been so much easier for me. Sandy always talks about how cute his ears were. How she loved that one was decidedly heart shaped. I couldn't see that beauty when he was born, although I saw it later and ache for it now. If I ever get a chance to speak with a family who've just had a CHARGE baby (or anything else), I will do my absolute best to show them just how beautiful that child is.
When we starting talking about the possiblity of Josh's homecoming, I had the idea to make Eddie Money's "Take Me Home Tonight" the soundtrack of his trip home. I can't hear that song without thinking of the drive home with Josh & Sandy in the back seat with the stereo blasting. Josh was finally coming home to sleep in his room and meet Java. It's kinda funny now to think of it, but Java really didn't seem to care too much for yet another baby living with us. I love Java, but man she is dumb sometimes.
One of my main motivations for writing this entry is to help me remember Josh. I remember the day after Josh died, Sandy and I were sitting on the floor in our kitchen crying and talking about him. I told her I was afraid of forgetting him -- his smell, his mannerisms, his face. I've already forgotten his smell, and it's like an aftershock of his death. For a long time I would hunt around the house smelling stuff just to try to find him again, but its gone.
Again, our diligence in documenting his life with video & pictures is a blessing. I never have to forget his face or the way he moved. I never have to forget his cough (oddly important to me), and I never have to forget how I used to gently stroke his head.
I hope above all that I always remember the things Josh taught me. Of utmost importance is this: Love really does overcome all. I still feel Josh's love in my life; I only hope I'm able to direct mine with enough focus to reach back to him.
I'll do another one of these in the future. There's so much more to Josh's story.