At 5:39am as I was pouring the coffee into the French press, I noted that he now had 19 minutes left. About this time four years ago, Mark and I were at his side and he was drifting between here and Heaven, sometimes playing with us for the last time, and sometimes mumbling words in a language we could not decipher.
At 5:50am as I was pouring my second cup of coffee, I noted that he had only eight minutes left. Eight minutes was probably the amount of time that elapsed between the first seizure that I am sure removed his spirit from his body, and the second seizure where with my hand over his heart, I felt it finally stop it's seemingly endless struggle to keep fighting to stay.
At 6am I thought about how I had lived my first two minutes without him. We were still talking to him as if he were with us knowing that the spirit may linger to listen and see. We removed all the medical horrors from his body and dressed him in clothes he would have liked, incidentally, it was pajamas I had two sets of. One set is saved, one set was worn for the last time ever and is no more.
At 8am, now two hours and two minutes after he went to Heaven, I was sitting in the bathtub thinking it all over. The way it was, how bad it felt, yet how relieved we were that he had finally gotten out of that body, such impossible emotions to reconcile. I believe that four years ago at 8am I was also sitting in the tub, in shock and in relief yet in a hurry to get in and get out before the man came to take his body away. I wanted to sit with him for every last second I could but I also wanted to be cleaned up and dressed for when the man arrived. I wanted to touch Samuel's body for what remaining time we had left with it, to memorize it, for all the good that did, but I did it anyway because I knew that all too soon all that would remain of Samuel were his things, and a seemingly endless supply of pain. How was it possible that just three days before he was sitting on that couch coloring me a dozen pictures and for a few hours, we were able to pretend that the inevitable wasn't going to happen? How was it possible that just a year before that, we thought we had seen an end to the worry of a relapse? How did it all go so viciously wrong?
I want you to know that in the realm of the soul, there is no remedy for such agony. There is no thing in this world that can even remotely make this okay. To watch, no, to help the purest love you've ever known in your life die after you've spent four years trying to help him survive all the while fighting screams inside yourself to do the exact opposite; it's an indescribable torture.
As I sat in the bathtub at 8am this morning, I realized that it had been 4 years and two hours and two minutes that I had lived without Samuel. It was in that revelation that the sorrow for this day turned into praise to God. Praise because I have learned to live without Samuel and by live, I mean in the abundance that Jesus speaks of in John 10:10. Life isn't just "hurry up and get done" but instead there is much joy even in the midst of sorrow. I can live with joy because I know that through Jesus, Samuel also lives and his joy is fully complete. Not the shadow of the joy we experience, but the fullness of joy. By God's mercy and grace, I have experienced the evidence of Samuel's life and joy in Heaven as well as his continued concern for us on Earth. Our love and devotion to each other remains well intact even if Samuel does not inhabit a physical body anymore. And thus I can attest that only Jesus is the remedy for the horrors we endured throughout Samuel's life, as well as the torturous end to his life and the loneliness we still encounter because he is no longer physically here. That said, I must also strongly testify that it was my choice to allow Jesus to mend my soul's woes spiritually. It did not just happen. It took a great deal of effort, sorrow and tears. It was not an easy process but it was a process that was well worth the effort and continues to be. It's a process that I will continue on some level until I am with Samuel again.
To have chosen to remain in a perpetual state of grieving for the rest of my life would have taken no effort at all and thus no actual healing would have taken place either. The wound today would be just as raw as it was in 2008. I also believe that had I rejected the comfort and healing offered by our Savior, Samuel would not be allowed to "visit" me as he does. It wasn't until I fully gave all of the mess of Samuel's life and death to God as well as the reins to my own life that He began to let me "feel" the glory of Samuel in Heaven. Those "gifts"from Him healed my soul like nothing in this world ever could. I continually chose to hang on to them when sorrow wants to creep in or when a walk down a tribulation lane seems inevitable. I hang on to them on days like today and as you see, they lift me out of the pit of sorrow so I never reach the point of no return.
For the first year or so after Samuel departed for Heaven, we found fun little surprises he had left behind but those little tangible gifts are not more. You know, things like the banana peel thrown behind the stereo speakers, a book that was discovered with his handwriting in it after all the rest were packed away, or the best one, his headprint in the wall from where he used to play dinos with Anna. I think we have finally reached the end of these things until someone rips out the drywall all the way down to the floor in our room where the doorknob put a hole in it and Samuel and Anna thought it was great fun to fill the hole up with toys that would fit. Ode to those days!
Similarly, one might think that we have reached an end to the lessons he taught us from birth to death but thankfully this is not the case. I believe the lessons I have learned, and continue to learn from Samuel will continue until I am reunited with him in Heaven. For these things I am so grateful. It would take me another hour or two to list all the amazing things he taught me about myself, about being a mother, about trusting my gut, about trusting God, about love, etc, and you can read the archives of this blog and find many of them in it. However, again I must stress that a great many of these things were learned after and/or because he died; because I chose to allow Jesus to mend my heart. Had I remained in grief, these amazing lessons and blessings would be unclaimed, possibly lost forever and my life and my heart would still be a wreck. And worse -and worse is still possible- the healing that God has done (is still doing) in the parts of my life that have nothing to do with Samuel would also be nonexistent had I not chosen to allow Him to mend my heart because of Samuel. Samuel changed my life - for the better, in spite of all the horrors and sorrows. And so Romans 8:28 has been proven in my life. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
And speaking of blessings, pieces of Samuel's spirit continue to live on in Anna. You might find it most interesting to know that she, the child that has the fewest memories of Samuel, displays many of his personality traits. While she might not remember as much as we wished she might, the very fact that she literally grew up a few feet from him at all times is evident in her mannerisms. So we make it a point to point out to her the things that she instinctively does that were learned from Samuel. A piece of him is surely in her. That's a pretty special gift, not just for us to witness, but also for her to have within herself.
The below video is footage of our first hike of the season at Snoquera Falls. Mark and I visited it last fall. Anna has been expressing interest in hiking with us this year. The last hiking she did was with us when Samuel was here and she really seemed to be a trooper. But then all the kids enjoyed it at that time. Last year, however, Daniel wanted to go with us but did not enjoy it at all so we weren't sure if she wouldn't do the same thing he did. Whine way too much....but thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised. Little hiker Dee is back after about a four year hiatus. We did this four mile trek and she never complained even once. She led the way just as Samuel enjoyed leading the way both literally and metaphorically. There were so many pieces of Samuel evident in her on this hike that I wanted to share it with you. (I just got the camcorder, still experiementing with settings and a good way to carry it the footage doesn't look like a drunk took it.)
To my baby, just a thought away.
So many gifts you left behind for us to discover. Thank you for all of them. The end of your physical life was certainly not the end of you nor the beginning of a neverending sorrow. I was so wrong about these things and I am glad that I was.
I'm also glad that you gave Little Dee so many pieces of yourself in your short life. Though she certainly is her own person, she acts a lot like you. I cannot think of a better role model for her to have had for the first four years of her life. Those are some of the most important as you well know.
I miss you. I can hardly wait to be with you for eternity. But until then, it is as I said it would be on this day four years ago, I know where you are and you know where I am. And you have certainly fulfilled your promise to check on us every day. Thank you for that most.
With more love than can be expressed.