Today was not May 14th, but it might as well have been. I am sitting here in Drew's room where our computer now is, along with many of Drew's things, and where his crib was last year at this time. At this time last year, on Wednesday night, Drew was sleeping peacefully (I hope) in his crib, and Jordan, Peyton and I were sound asleep too. I would have just finished his last feeding of the night, rocking him close in the rocking chair and loving the silence and comfort of that last feeding. I would have just put him down, snuggled up with his special blanket that he always wound his fingers through and with his little bear next to his face where he inevitably ended up putting it. I know I was only the distance of 4 inches of wall away from him, but from this vantage point, it was way too far. I wish I had been in here watching him, holding him, near him, as if somehow I could have prevented him from having that first seizure. We were sound asleep... completely unaware of how soon our life would change.
On the Wednesday of this week last year, Peyton, Drew and I went out to the Zorn's ranch with the Mom's and Tot's group from our church for a hay ride and a day with the animals. We went with great anticipation and I'm sure a little chaos getting out the door! It was a spectacular spring day, and I remember carrying Drew around in the Baby Bjorn for a good portion of the day, trying to protect him from the sun while trying to keep up with Peyton. Peyton was in his glory, feeding chickens and gathering eggs, riding a horse, playing in the hay, climbing on tractors, and running around unfettered in the warm spring air of the countryside. Drew seemed to be enjoying himself too, smiling lots, and content to be carried around and to be part of things. He spent quite a lot of the afternoon in the laps of special friends who felt it no burden at all to give some extra cuddles. The only strange thing about the afternoon was that he didn't seem to want to eat, and though he had been in the heat of the day, he didn't seem to want to drink much either. After shedding a little worry, I gave up fighting on that and wrote it off as an issue of too much distraction, that could be overcome once we got home.
When we got home, I'm sure I fed the boys dinner, but I don't remember much of that part of the day. I do remember getting them ready for bed, and listening to Daddy read to Peyton while I read and sang to Drew. I tried to put him to bed but he didn't want to settle. I picked him up a couple times, cuddled him, tried to feed him again in case he was still hungry, and then put him back to bed. The same thing repeated a couple times and then he finally settled to sleep. I thought it was attributable to being overstimulated all day long. (Was I oblivious? I know the logical answer to that, but can't help but ask.) Jordan and I came in to look at and wonder over him before we went to bed, as we liked to do every night with both boys. I remember looking at him, so peaceful, and feeling so content, so blessed, and so excited about the future. It wasn't long after that he woke up for a midnight snack and I remember holding him, both of us barely awake, but aware of the comfort of each other's presence. I remember thinking over the day and planning for the next day as I fed him, anticipating the adventures the next day would bring. I remember holding him close to my chest, head looking over my shoulder as I patted his back, and I can still feel that feeling of having him heart to heart. Then off to bed again. Separation. That feels like a lifetime ago, and like a mistake I wish I could take back. It was at that point that I said goodbye to the dream of the Drew I knew to that point. Not to Drew himself, because I would never take back last summer, but to what I hoped for him and what I dreamed of about him.
1:15 a.m. Drew woke up crying strangely, in some kind of discomfort. The cry was not one of hunger or the desire to be cuddled. It seemed that he might have been teething all day so I thought that was what it was and decided to go give him some Tylenol to see if that would help settle him. I have gone over that scene a hundred times in my head, sad at how poorly I handled it - how unobservant I was to what was really happening. I didn't realize he was having a seizure until I tried to give him his pacifier back in hopes of not disturbing him too much by picking him up or turning a light on, and he couldn't keep it in his mouth. I tried again. He still couldn't keep it in. At that point, I was fully awake and instantly alert - I turned the light on low to check him. He was shaking in his crib, helplessly flailing about, with a look of what might have been confusion in his eyes. Shock. Act. Move. Think. Go! I picked him up and took him into our bedroom, trying not to wake Peyton up by yelling at Jordan, but wanting to scream at the top of my lungs for help. I put him on our bed and turned the lamp on, waking Jordan up. I remember thinking, "I never imagined calling 911. I guess this would be the time to do that. All those years of thinking those are the numbers you never accidentally want to hit - overwritten in less than a moment." Drew lay there, still shaking, looking to the left, and if I didn't know better I would think his eyes were saying, "Please help me."
The paramedics were here in less than 5 minutes. They assessed him, gave him medication and rushed him out the door. I was in the front seat of the ambulance as it whisked my baby to what I hoped would be help that could fix the problem. I remember sitting in the front, watching the trinket dangle from the rear view mirror, joking nervously with the driver (what was I thinking? Shock does strange things). When we got to ACH, Drew was swarmed with a team of caring medical staff, while a nurse came near to check on me and make sure I was ok. Did I need a glass of water, anything? It took them over an hour to stop his seizure and I can't even tell you what I was thinking. I just remember trying to move his blanket closer to him in case that could provide some of the comfort I couldn't get close enough to provide.
After multiple tests that night and so much medication that he was on life support, off we went to ICU, turning a corner that we will never go back around. I called the family in the middle of the night this night last year, needing their prayers. I hope I never have to do that again, and that I never get one of those calls.
I desperately miss my littlest boy tonight. I love him so much. Doesn't the grief get easier at this point you could ask? My answer would be that the constancy of it changes, but the intensity of the grief is almost more painful in the doses that come. I don't cry all day, and I laugh often (Peyton is still my dear Peyton!), but I do wear waterproof mascara every day now where I only wore it on special occasions before. Why? Because I never know when I will get to experience something that will open the bottle of tears, through which I am drawn back, closer to Drew for a moment. I never mind the tears, I just wish they brought back more than a memory.
I will be ok in the morning, because "joy always comes in the morning." My eyes will be red, and there will be an empty tissue box, but perhaps I will dream a sweet dream of the little one I love tonight. If this prompts a tear, turn it into a prayer of thanksgiving for me, that God allowed us to experience both Drew and His love through Drew. Drew, I will love you forever and more! I love you.
Peyton and Jordan, I love you too, and am so thankful for you. You are rocks in my life. Thank you.