God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

The Week Before

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The boy’s due date is the 29th of March which happens to fall on Good Friday this year. The week of the 24th represents the most likely locations of his birth. This turns out to be somewhat fortuitous as the week before turned out to be disastrous.

The week of the 17th started out good, as Eva’s grandparents were visiting for the weekend during their spring break. Monday was back to work for Steph and I, and Eva got have a day of fun and spoils with Grandma and Grandpa (high on both fun and spoils). We returned home that day to a napping girl, but when she woke she had a surprise for us. A crusty eye, and redness below both eyes were our first indication that pink eye had returned. We didn’t enjoy it the first time, and definitely thought it didn’t require a sequel.

Plans to return back home were scuttled by the grandparents as Eva would not be able to go to daycare the next day. Steph had few precious days left to work with her students before her maternity leave, and my vacation days have been stored away for the days during and after when the boy arrives, so the offer to watch her was gladly accepted.

With the pink eye there were some concerns. Eva was sleeping in the nursery so everything would have to be replaced and cleaned before he arrived. If the boy arrived soon, Eva wouldn’t be able to come to the hospital. Would either of us contract it again? Being sick is no fun, but being sick with a newborn is downright scary.

The phone rings. Every phone call for the last week or so has come with that instantaneous query “Is this the call?” This was not the call, as it was my mother. The hopefulness of baby boy news was sunk with sorrowful news. My grandfather (Eva’s great grandpa) had been fighting cancer for twenty years, but the battle was nearing the end. A scan had revealed that it had spread into his brain in pea and marble sized nodes, and it would only be a matter of time.

This past summer we lost my aunt to cancer, and we were unable to make it back for the funeral. It happened right before Eva’s finalization, and we just didn’t have time to make it there and back in time. It was the right decision, but it had laid a layer of guilt on my heart.

A matter of time is what he has left. Could be a day. Could be a month. Maybe even a few months. We couldn’t be forced to make that tough choice again, would we? Twice in the same year to the same family.

Tuesday comes and Eva does well despite the pink eye. A trip to the pediatrician and a different anti-biotic for her. Our pediatrician offers to set aside a parking spot as we will have this visit, her 15 month checkup on Friday, and the two day appointment for the boy most likely the next week.

Grandma and grandpa stay for dinner and take off that night. Eva needs to stay home from daycare the next day, so we split the time. Even by Wednesday, the new meds are helping, and things are starting to look up. Well, until we turn the news on.

Snow. A Palm Sunday snow storm is heading our way. Being a few days out, we have estimates from 2 to 12 inches. 90 percent of the roads we would take to the hospital are well plowed, so it shouldn’t be an issue….unless we have to pickup Eva’s birth mother. Her roads are not plowed right away, so that could be an issue.

I flip on the TV Thursday night. NCAA basketball, the most wonderful time of the year. This year Dayton is hosting not only the play-in round (NCAA calls this the first round), but they are also hosting games the first and second round of the tournament (NCAA calls those 2nd and 3rd round). They host games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday….wait.

Dayton Arena is not terribly far from our hospital. What if traffic jams up around the interstate (a guaranteed lock to happen) while we try to get to the hospital? What if labor hits on Sunday with snow and traffic issues?!

Possessing neither ability to stop Mother Nature or the NCAA, we sit back and pray to God that these issues don’t come up. By Saturday morning, the forecasts are settling into the 4 to 9 range, and the NCAA rumbles on.

Saturday morning is jam packed as Steph has a massage and planned on going to work to get stuff ready for her long term sub. Eva and I are playing when Steph calls me to let me know that she is skipping work and coming home. Our birth mother texted with the simple advice of keep that phone close. Nothing like getting that message to undo all the work of a massage.

So Saturday has now changed into “Get Ready” day. Fill the fridge, clean the house, make a list of things for Eva’s sitter, and make ourselves ready for this life change. I jump in the shower just in case I don’t have the chance later.

The anticipation of good news is a welcome distraction. We’ll get our groceries and make sure everything is ready for baby boy. As I’m running through all the things I wanted to accomplish today, Steph comes into the bathroom. “Your dad called. Grandpa died this morning.”

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Grandpa was a kind and decent man. Always fair to everyone he met, and giving of his time and talents to the community. He married Grandma 64 years ago, and it’s been a loving relationship that has outlasted most. Four children, six grandchildren and ten grandchildren (with one on the way) are his living legacy.

There are so many things I can remember that make me smile about him. Every time we’d visit they’d have a new vehicle. He never wanted to get bogged down with repairs. The first home I can remember them in had this sunset painted on the back wall of their bedroom. I always thought it was pretty cool (well, that and the waterbed) that I would sneak out of the guest bedroom and they’d find me in their bed.

Later they would move to a larger home in the country. It had a large yard where every year he’d play QB in the Thanksgiving game. He was a Husker fan, and a Twins fan that taught me that if they had a good spring training record they were destined to have a bad year. He introduced me to Ole and Lena jokes, and was the musician of the family. Every Sunday morning Grandpa would fire up the organ and start to play music for Grandma. Of course, it was actually his way of saying “Grandma, hurry up it’s time to go”, but still was beautiful though.

As his body began to betray him more and more throughout the last years of his life, he’d have his good days and his bad one. But it never stopped his spirit, and never changed who he was. He was a story teller, a funny man, a generous man, and a loving grandpa.

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Grandpa died around 10:00 am est. Steph received the text from our birth mother around 10:20 am. I somehow wanted these two things to be related. In death, we begin life anew. I would get to call the family and bring just some joy into this sad moment.

There would not be that joy on this day. The contractions had slowed, and were back to being manageable. Still we wait.

Sunday arrives, and snow and basketball await us. Steph sings with the choir for Palm Sunday and on her music stand is her sheet music paired with a waiting cellphone. No call though.

The snow slows a bit, so the basketball is mostly finished by the time it arrives. By morning we will have around 6 inches, 3-4 on the driveway to scoop, and no phone call. Contractions keep coming, but not close enough yet.

Monday morning I have a delay, but before I head in we receive the “Keep your phone close” text message again. I run into work and gather stuff to bring home, just in case. Just as everyday before, there would be no baby boy today.

I write this post on Tuesday the 26th, but no word today. I suspect that he will come in the next couple of days or so, but even with that new joy so close, I can’t help but think of my family in South Dakota. Today is the funeral, and I’m in Ohio. For the second time in less than a year God put me in this position of choosing family over family, and I don’t know why. Last summer I felt guilty, and now the guilt has weighed on me even more. I can grieve my loss from a distance, but I can’t see my family from out here. I want to see my cousins, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. I want to be there for Grandma. I want to hug my mom.

Eva was born in December of 2011. With time off for her birth, Christmas and a short trip back home, we never had time to bring her to South Dakota. Grandpa never got to meet his great grand daughter. In a day or so her brother will be born, and grandpa will never even get to see him. How is this fair? Why did God let the cancer take him before he could even see a picture of our baby boy? Why does He not want me to see my family? Why?

I cried in the shower when I found out. I miss my grandfather, and I feel terrible that I couldn’t bring Eva out to meet him. The only solace I had is that he is looking down at us now, that he can see her now, and that he is proud to have been her great grandfather.

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One thought on “The Week Before

  1. I feel for you so much. I have been blessed to have most family still alive but the 1st loss was my Grandpa on my mom’s side. I live in Europe, I couldn’t go to the funeral, etc. My dad was visiting and so it was at least a comfort to have some family near but the guilt is huge. I lost an aunt as well and now one of my Grandma’s probably won’t be around much longer. It never gets easier but I do take comfort that at least the grandparent had lived a long fulfilling life and he wouldn’t WANT me to go out of my way and spend the money to get there just to see him at a funeral. We show our love for our lost loved ones by living I believe. Hugs

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