After laying Sam to rest in Texas, we flew home to Colorado today. It’s strange to return in such a physically similar state to 7 months ago. My tummy is smaller. My energy level is higher. No dancing, kicking Sam in my belly… oh, I miss him. It’s strange to be slowly snapping back physically, because my soul is radically and permanently changed. Just because Sam lived.
On the plane, the man next to me and I managed small talk for a few minutes before he asked if I had any children. “No,” I began to answer, but it felt like forgetting Sam, which is my biggest fear in all of this. So, instead I said, “I had a son, Sam. He had a chromosomal abnormality and passed away recently. He was a sweet baby.” The man was kind, and asked questions about him, and it felt a little like healing to me. One more person knows about my Sam.
The day Sam passed away, Steven and I had the privilege of knowing the hours in which Sam was saying goodbye. His heart rate slowed down, a gentle falling asleep. Steven read to him. We talked to him, told him how proud we were of how long he’d stayed with us. I wondered if he’d like to have blackberries with me (one of our favorites), but I knew he just wasn’t hungry anymore. I went to sleep, hoping he would fall asleep with me, and I think that is when he left us. He passed effortlessly from the warm safety of my womb to the safety of Jesus’ arms. I wept harder than I’ve wept since we learned our time with Sam would be short. Steven and I debated over his middle name–it’s meaning, “God is good,” was too heavy to fathom. The months leading up to those moments, I had prayed that I would be ready to give Sam his middle name when it was time, but I’m bad at faking spiritual strength. And, at the time, naming him Samuel Evan seemed like the fakest sentiment ever. We decided on a different middle name with a different meaning before I began to labor.
Labor pains are a curse, so it’s truly a miracle that I can call my labor with Sam beautiful. But it was. We wondered what color Sam’s hair was. We wondered if we’d be able to tell whose nose he had… whose ears… whose feet… Giving birth to Sam was the dreaded moment, the severing of my connection to him, but that beautiful labor was filled with anticipation. This soul I had sensed and listened to for months, I would finally see him–the source of all the movement and dancing!
When Sam finally emerged, I was out of breath physically, but I also felt out of breath spiritually. It felt like I had run a marathon and crossed the finish line with Sam, and I rejoiced over him. This broken pregnancy seems to have ended prematurely, evidence of the brokenness of the world, but I felt like something big was finished. It felt so far from premature and broken. Sam had gotten every heartbeat allotted for him, and so many of his brothers and sisters of the Church had carried him in prayer. His life was lived beautifully. Though short, it was complete. Though he was tiny, Sam’s impact was monumental. His life was a beautiful triumph, and Steven and I are so honored to have been part of it.
There are so many details about Sam that I studied after he was born, and I hold them in my heart. The one detail about him that confirmed everything I suspected was his hands. When I saw his hands, I knew that I was (and still am) Sam’s mama.
The doctor told me Sam had one clinched fist, and on the other hand, his pinky and ring fingers were fused. I saw what they were looking at on the ultrasound, heard all of the anomalies, and doubted nothing but that assessment about his hands. They were missing something, my heart told me. I told myself that he could still play pattycake with fused fingers, that it wasn’t such a dire assessment as I was reacting, but my heart persisted. I felt like I needed to pay special attention to his hands. I knew… I knew… I knew… his hands were perfect. When he was born, and they laid him on my chest, the first thing I did was to find his hands and splay out his precious little fingers–the nurses even got a picture of me doing this. His hands were perfect. I knew him, I thought. They were wrong. I knew him. Everything I had suspected about Samuel was true, hidden away from sight, but true. I turned to Steven and asked, “What should we name him?” Steven answered, “Evan. I think his name is Evan.” I agreed and wept my reply, “Look at him. He’s beautiful! Evan. God is good. Evan.”
We loved our little boy, our son Samuel Evan. We longed to raise him, and we asked God for this. I feared this outcome as I asked, anticipating the crushing of my faith. I still don’t know why God said “no,” but He did. I do know that asking for such extravagance was no mistake, even though I am disappointed. I don’t regret asking, because requesting such extravagance was what I needed to do to love Sam. We hoped for everything for Sam, because that’s what good mothers and fathers do for their children.
Now I wait for God to heal my broken heart.