Monday, February 16, 2015

Making Our Last Words Count

Last Friday, for reasons that we cannot explain, my wife and I decided to tell one person, just one, the name that we had chosen for our son. My mother-in-law, having been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer just before my wife's birthday in October, had not been well for some time was the only one that we wanted to tell. And while she didn’t give an acknowledgement of the news that we had shared, there is little doubt that she heard us.

Our son was the light of the day which was able to pierce the darkest of moments. Having joined the world at 9:14am we were quick to send a photo to family and friends to let us know of the joy that had just been bestowed upon us. Even my mother-in-law who had not been communicative for several days opened her eyes when she was told that a picture of her first grandchild was sent to her. For the first time in days she spoke a single word… wow!

Still in shock from the early arrival of our baby boy, my wife and I were slowly recovering from the day that had just transpired. With all visitors having left the maternity ward for the day we settled into our hospital beds and waited for our son to come back into the room for his next meal. It was at this point about 12 hours since our son entered the world that my wife made a request to the nurse… one that I am sure that they are not used to hearing.

It was a simple act but it was a moment that would immediately become part of family lore. My wife turned to the nurse and asked her to make our son cry while she had her mother’s caretaker on speakerphone next to her mom’s bed. The nurse didn’t question my wife and seconds later his cry was echoing in my mother-in-law’s great room. My wife followed by saying “I love you” and told the caretaker that she would call back in the morning. It was a call that she wouldn't have the opportunity to make. 

What we didn’t find out until later was that mere seconds after hearing the healthy cry of her grandson, my mother-in-law took her last breath. She held on just long enough, and our son arrived just early enough, that she was able to leave this world as a grandmother. The circle of life, in all its joy and pain, mystery and misery, beginning and ending was in full display. In a matter of half a day we were both overjoyed and heartbroken.

Since that moment, we have been experiencing the full range of emotions remembering both the good time and bad, the disagreements and the celebrations, the moments of happiness and sadness. I have been doing all that I can to try and comfort my wife knowing that there is no real comfort that can be given during this time. Only our son can bring solace and help to heal my wife’s heart and the knowledge that the last words that we both spoke to her were the most powerful and comforting things that we could ever say to her in her last moments in the physical world… our son’s name and “I love you”.