"Some people only dream of angels; we held one in our arms."

Below you will find Austin's story in multiple parts in order to tell the full story of my pregnancy, his birth, funeral and the months following.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Sister's Keeper Thoughts

So, I finally finished reading, "My Sister's Keeper," after having it in possession for the last nine months. After completing it, I now know why I hadn't started it until last week, and why it took me a good week to finish it. After getting half way through it last week, I had to put it down, as a lot of it had become too "heavy" to deal with, but I really wanted to know how it finished, so I read the last of it today.

With that said, I found myself folding down several pages, as several passages spoke to me, and resonated with everything I have dealt with or felt over the course of this long journey. So I feel compelled to share the quotes that captured me and why they moved me in the way that they did. There are some quotes that I have far more to comment on than others, while some need no words or thoughts, they just speak to me. This is quite a long post, but for those of you who have read the book, I think you will understand why...

"The human capacity for burden is like bamboo--far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first first glance."
Until this year, I hadn't experienced burden, and while that sounds very negative to think of my situation, or what happened with Austin as a burden, that is sometimes how it feels. Sometimes it was more than I thought I could bear; there were times in the few months after he died, that I didn't think I could make it through the pain, the unshakable burden of grief. As this quote states, my capacity was far more flexible than I ever envisioned, and I am so thankful it was because while the pain has been unbearable, I continue to make it through.

"We are not the first parents to lose a child. But we are the first parents to lose our child. And that makes all the difference."
This needs no words.... just brought tears to my eyes.

"If you were me... and the medical ethics committee handed you back a piece of paper with a suggested course of action that would save your son's life, would you question them further... or would you just jump at the chance."
For me, as I have expressed before, I don't have a lot of regret as far as Austin is concerned, nor do I spend much time dwelling in the "what if's." However, it is inevitable that the human mind will drift to the "what if" scenarios, and this passage struck me in that I wish I never had to make a decision. I wish that there was a course of action that could have saved Austin's life; I wish so greatly that I could have jumped at a chance to have given him a second chance or even a fighting chance at all... I know the decision I made was the right one; deep down I do, but the whole life support issue still gets to me, and I know that is something that I need to trust that God was there with us the whole time, and we really weren't the ones making the decisions.

"It doesn't take a whole long life to realize that what we deserve to have, we rarely get."
This quote caught me in the sense that the word deserve is such a "catch 22," and I think this is a rather cynical way of viewing life. Did I deserve to have a son, I guess anyone would say, sure, I deserved to have him. On the other hand, do we rarely get things we deserve or desire; I would choose to disagree, and say that often times we do get what much more, as opposed to "rarely."

"Change isn't always for the worse; the shell that forms around a piece of sand looks to some people like an irritation, and to others like a pearl."
What good possibly come from the loss of an infant? What good could possibly come from the horrendous pain and suffering that comes with losing a child? I will tell you that the loss of Austin has changed me profoundly, and while I hate that it happened to me, and I hate that things turned out the way they did; my change in the way I look at life and other's situations is a positive change, as opposed to the immense irritation I once thought this whole situation was.

"We hadn't been going anywhere, and the place we wound up was awful and still I wouldn't have traded that week for the world."

"Not that... Because you know what it's like to not have any control over your body."
Control...something I always thought I had, and something I realized I had to let go of.... you see, the entire time I was pregnant with Austin, I had no control over the bleeding, I had no control over the outcome... and as still as I sat and as much as I stayed in bed, what happened was going to happen, and I had no control over it. The day he was born, I had no control over that. The weeks and months of pain and suffering; I didn't have control over. I tried to believe that I had control; I wanted so badly to have control over my body and my emotions, but I knew I had to let go at some point.... let go for myself, let go for others, let go for God to use me in ways I never knew were possible.

"That in addition to the piece of me that's always wanted Kate to live, there's another, horrible piece of me that sometimes wishes I were free."
Whew... this was a rough one for me to read because this explains exactly how I felt those two weeks in the hospital. I thank God I didn't realize how sick I was; I thank God it wasn't until the end that I wasn't scared for my life because naivete in this case was a good thing for me. You see, until I realized that my life was in danger, I would have done anything to hang on to my little boy. With my whole being, I wanted to do everything I could to keep Austin and allow him the chance at life, but I would be lying that there was also a piece of me that was scared to death and wanted to be freed of the nightmare. I wanted to be freed of the fear of the unknown; I wanted to just have answers. For this, I have felt guilt because in the moments right after Austin was born; I was just so relieved to be free... I was so relieved to be "done," to have answers and to know I was okay. This probably has been the most difficult part of my journey of grief.

"That Kate's death would be the worst thing that's ever happened to me... and also the best."
Note best would be too strong of a word for me... but I think you understand the idea.

"Nowadays I can hardly remember what that old house looked like. I walk out the front door and never recall the streth of months that the gaping lot stood out, conspicious in its absence, like a lost tooth. It took some time, you know, but the new owners? They did rebuild."
I use this metaphor, as I am the gaping house that stood empty and lost for several months. That is exactly how I felt, no matter how I disguised it, no matter how much I put on a "front" that things were okay. I was lost and empty, and didn't think I would ever rebuild. There are still times, even eight months out, that I still have this feeling. But just as an empty house gains new owners, I feel like I myself am a new owner of my body, spirit, and mind. I have learned to deal with the empty, achy feeling, and I have learned that I am going to continue to rebuild...and rebuild...and rebuild.

"I realize that we never have children, we receive them. And sometimes it's not for quite as long as we would have expected or hoped. But it is still far better than never having had those children at all."

Interesting way to look at it, but so very true, in that we truly are receiving these children from God, and we may never understand why they were taken from us, but as hard as it is to remember, because God knows it is for me, but they truly belong to Him, and not for us to "have."

"In the English language, there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child."

"Grief is a curious thing, when it happens unexpectedly. It is a Band-Aid being ripped away, taking the top layer off a family. And the underbelly of a household is never pretty, ours no exception...See, as much as you want to hold on to the bitter sore memory that someone has left this world, you are still in it. And the very act of living is a tide: at first it seems to make no difference at all, and then one day you look down and see how much pain has eroded."

And this is what I was left with, as tears were streaming down my face and the book came to a close, and I realized that this summed up the past year of my life. I am so grateful I didn't read this book in the hospital when I was given it, as I wouldn't have understood the depths of it, and it wouldn't have placed much meaning in my life. (It also would have made me way more depressed and sad, which is probably why I cast it aside in the first place.) I guess today, or even the past month, I have been able to take a step back and realize just what a difference the time has made; and can see how far I have come... physically, emotionally and spiritually.


  1. Meredith,

    That book remains on my book shelf, as I'm not sure I have the inner strength to read it right now...maybe someday :)

    Hugs and thank you for visiting my blog. I will be following your journey.

    Many hugs and healing thoughts,

  2. The one quote about being free after birth resonates with me too. I was relieved that I could now get better, walk around freely and feel safe again, but I too felt guilty. I had put myself ahead of my baby girl, however I had also thought of my husband, son, parents, brothers and sisters. I didn't like thinking that I had spared myself just so that we could have another baby, but really there was a bit of truth to that.