Cultivating a Culture of Gardening™

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Observing Life Abbreviated

It was 2 a.m. in the city of angels. Restless on the hospital room sofa bed, I sat up cloudy-headed by the events of the last few days and gazed over at the bed next to me. Killian so very still and his momma, Alex, laying beside him, a place that had been her bulwark to ebb off the inevitable loss of the days ahead. 
How had I gotten here?

My mind replayed once again the unseen events that had become a photo-reel in my imagination. Ten month old Killian discovering the freedom of bipedalism begins to discover a new level of his home. A door left slightly cracked rather than tightly closed, an over-the-counter sleeping medicine bottle with the top not quite screwed on, those few minutes of distraction that everyone who has ever been around a young child knows happens daily, the 911 call, and then the tearful phone call from his momma where she had to repeatedly tell me, “If you want to see Killian one more time, you need to come out now.” Repeating it either because I couldn’t understand  through the tearful words or maybe just because I didn’t want to believe what i was hearing. Killian would not recover and I needed to fly to Los Angeles. 
I had stopped by the office of the landscaping company that I worked for to drop off my letter of resignation - I had no idea what the future would look like but with fall planting only two weeks away, I knew that I did not need anything distracting me from the grandkids that awaited me at the other end that plane ride.  I had then taken the first flight I could get on to Los Angeles. 
I don’t remember much of the next few hours - somehow, on that very full plane, I had gotten a seat with no one beside me, and I had played through the scenarios of what I could say to comfort the family that awaited me. There had already been such hardship. My son, a marine veteran with 3 tours in the middle east that earned him a purple heart and life altering PTSD, had had almost no contact with his wife and family over the last year. Money had been extremely tight for them both as he struggled to adjust to civilian life and his wife struggled to hold the family together until he worked through the war demons that haunted him. And my years as mother-in-law had been often intensely strained and painful. Yet when I first walked into that hospital room, saw the small child that I had held all day unknowingly for the last time five months before, the tears overcame me. And Alex came and held ME as I sobbed. In that moment I was not the mother of the son who had broken her heart, but the grandmother of the child we both loved.

All the moments that I had missed with Killian in his short life because of my own selfish ambitions or relational insecurities became waves of grief over the next few days. And as I would weep, Alex would wrap her arms around me and we would weep together.

Alex, his other grandma Tutu, his grandpa Steve, and a myriad of aunts, cousins, and friends were able to say good bye to Killian until the nurses took his small body away - where his heart, kidneys, and liver would bring life to other children. Killian died on August 31, exactly 10 months after he was born. Exactly two months ago from today, what would have been his birthday - October 31. 
In the city of angels for the next few weeks I learned to be just Grandma B, and I saw the beauty of a fellow grandma Tutu who has devoted her life to serving her grieving daughter and grandkids, and I saw the beauty of a young mom who has more strength than she realizes because of how she has fought for her family. Grief is a river that flows through us now, but we ride that river together so that it does not overwhelm us. 

Hands that loved: Alex Wise, Killian Wise, Tutu, and Grandma B
God is a Redeemer, a truth I have sung about and spoken of for decades. As the weeks tumble  away from the reality of this great loss, I remember my time with Killian, I think of the increasingly frequent time visiting his older brother and sister, I think of the tender time I shared with their Momma Alex, I think of the hopefulness of the days ahead because of healing relationships, and I see that God is indeed a Redeemer. So I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and trust that He understands when I don’t, that He is strong when I am not, and that Christ is indeed my hope and comfort when grief overtakes me. 

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At November 1, 2015 at 6:48 AM , Blogger Gail said...

My friend, my heart is breaking for you and your family. I hardly know what to say. I believe that you've found both your strength and comfort. Love to you, gailxoxo

At November 1, 2015 at 9:01 AM , Blogger Casa Mariposa said...

Beautiful, heart felt, sad but very real. I am so sorry your family has had to endure this. Prayers for healing for all of you. Hugs to you, Barb. xo

At November 1, 2015 at 11:03 AM , Blogger JennyP said...

Barbara, I can't begin to imagine your grief and the grief of your family -- to lose a child, especially a baby, just seems to be the ultimate injustice. May your faith continue to strengthen you in the coming months and years -- I know this is something you will not get over, but learn to navigate through. We love you.

At November 1, 2015 at 11:56 AM , Blogger Louise Hartwig said...

God hold you in the palm of his hands. No one goes alone. Such sorrow.

At November 1, 2015 at 1:34 PM , Blogger Jan of Two Women and a Hoe said...

Oh Barbara, I have no words. I am so deeply sorry. You and your precious family are in my thoughts and prayers. xox

At November 1, 2015 at 3:38 PM , Blogger Helen said...

Oh, Barbara. You write so movingly about what must be a devastating test of human endurance. I send my love to you and all those you love, and all those who love you.

At November 1, 2015 at 5:53 PM , Blogger barbara wise said...

Helen, Jan, Louise, Tammy, Jenny, and Gail - thank you for your loving words and for the continued prayers and hugs. Writing through the pain has been cathartic, hoping that our story may help someone else going through loss not feel so alone. You friends have been great comfort.

At November 1, 2015 at 7:18 PM , Blogger Pam Bennett said...

This is beautiful Barbara. Thank you for being so strong to share this. You and your family are in my prayers.

At November 1, 2015 at 8:51 PM , Blogger garden girl said...

Amazing grace in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Love and hugs from our family to yours. xxx

At November 2, 2015 at 5:09 PM , Anonymous Helen Yoest @ Gardening with Confidence said...

B.My heart breaks for you and your family...

At November 5, 2015 at 12:03 AM , Anonymous Pam/Digging said...

Barbara, I commented a couple of days ago, but Blogger must have lost it. I just want you to know how deeply your beautifully written post has touched me. The raw honesty of it is very powerful. I read it with tears streaming down my face. My deepest sympathies to you all.

At November 6, 2015 at 7:37 AM , Blogger Barbarapc said...

Oh Barbara, I'm so very sorry for you and your family. You'd asked if children who have died had birthdays on your Facebook page -- Killian will have many, and in multiples because of the life he's given others. And, he will continue to be loved by those who hug those healthy children tight. May time and the thoughts of all who care for you ease your heartbreak. My deepest sympathies. Barbarapc


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