Today, I decided to rearrange my living room. I love switching up my living space to freshen up the room a bit.
As I was moving items out of the living room into the kitchen (so I could move the big furniture without breaking the small stuff) I took all of Joshua's things off of his shelf and put them on the kitchen island. Of course, I couldn't just place his things on the island and walk away. I had to look through them.
I could tell you every single piece that is inside the round hat box the nurses gave to us after he died- medical gloves, pacifiers, pictures, lockets of hair, the tiny child sized gown that Caleb wore when he first saw Joshua, breast pump parts, and the hospital card with his birthday, weight, and length on it. I studied each of these items as I sifted through the box, trying to remember the way he felt in my arms, trying to remember his sweet smell, and his squishy hands- but I couldn't. I've lost some of those memories, something I've dreaded since the day he died.
At the bottom of the box, I found his dinosaur romper. The one he died in. The one with tiny little brown spots of blood from the doctors and nurses trying to perform chest compressions on his still fresh chest scar. The one that used to smell like him.
I found myself in a puddle of tears, trying my hardest remember him rather than the trauma of that morning. But I couldn't. I tried to hold that romper in the way that I held him that morning in hopes of feeling him again. But I couldn't. I breathed in deep, my nose surrounded by tiny dinosaur fabric, trying to smell him. But I couldn't.
3 years later, his smell is gone.
But the memories of that morning are not. The feel of his cool hands in my hands, trying desperately to warm him up. Willing every last reflexive twitch to be a sign of life, that the nightmare unfolding was not my reality. The feel of his lifeless body in my arms as I waited the 2 hours it took for Shane to get to the hospital. Carrying him home in my lap in the passenger side of our van, wrapped in a blanket, holding him in the sun in another fruitless effort to warm him- as if it would bring him back to me. The excruciating pain I felt when the funeral director handed me his dinosaur romper and I discovered the blood.
I gently folded the romper back up and placed it back in the box all the way at the very bottom. I put the rest of the contents of the box back in, and another wave of grief hit. It's so wrong that my son's entire life's belongings fit into a couple photo albums and a hat box. That's not how it's supposed to be.
As I pulled myself together, I looked around at my house and at my children who were playing quietly in the playroom. My life, now, is unrecognizable to the one that I was living pre-Joshua. I am not the same person I was back then. My life has changed so much. But all of the change that I have experienced is because of Joshua. The love for my children, the respect and trust that I have in my husband, my beautiful home, and my deeper love and trust in God- all these things were because of Joshua.
His life was and is such a gift to me. Yes, it brought pain, anxiety, and grief. No, it was nothing like what I wanted it to be. But it was perfect just the way God created it to be.