He is eleven weeks old.
It seems like forever ago. I actually had a breakdown today.
I just want to be normal again.
I said to no one in particular, as I looked in the mirror at my haggard face and interesting body shape.
I haven’t bounced back, even though I really wanted to.
I wanted to have redecorated our family room and landscaped the front yard and read Shakespeare with the kids and done a million things by now, and I haven’t.
I have done a lot of sitting. And lying. Not liar-liar-pants-on-fire lying. Just lying down.
I’ve been tired.
His birth was the most beautiful, peaceful set of hours I have ever experienced in this mortality. Angels were near and I realized just how much I meant to him…before he appeared.
And there was a push–and there he was.
And he is perfect.
And then I started to feel a little…almost dead. And I lost a lot of blood. Nearly half.
That did not feel so great. I remember saying before I nearly lost consciousness:
John–I am not going to nearly die again. I won’t do it! Don’t you dare let it happen!
And he didn’t. Also, the most incredible nurses on the planet–probably in the universe–also didn’t want to let that happen. And neither did the anesthesiologist. So, everyone agreed that not nearly dying would be better than nearly dying so we did our best and I am happy to say we basically made it work.
Then the rest of the best nurses in the entire universe in Mother Baby made sure that I didn’t nearly die, but recovered through laughter, which is truly the best medicine.
It was a blast.
And I think, a little magical.
No, a lot magical.
My nurses were magical, the doctors were magical. The hospital food was not magical but earnestly tried to be….
The bed also did its best but fell a little short of magic. It tried to evoke a bit of whimsy, but that’s about as far as it got.
I came home. The SMeE decided to join me, and I have been having a small problem with him. It hurts. A lot.
I went back to the hospital later with trouble related to pre-eclampsia, which I still had.
It’s been eleven weeks and I want to be and do everything I’ve been waiting and wanting for so many years and I am impatient.
It has been busy. Since he was born, we have had birthdays and mission calls and trying to get back into the swing of life.
I even took a trip to California with my sister in order to try and kickstart myself into you know, bouncing back. It was absolutely wonderful, even if I did overdo it just a bit.
I don’t know why I do that, but I really wanted to be finished with feeling…pregnant and the SMeE just flaring up like this and the no blood thing. I just wanted to be perfectly recovered and have fun.
Today was a really hard day when I just had to realize it’s only been eleven weeks.
July 5th was Joy’s Day. The day she went back home, and as I was lying in severe amounts of pain after church, I wondered about these eleven weeks.
Eleven weeks after Joy died, I was still a mess.
Sometimes I would laugh, but mostly I would shake and not know what to do with myself.
Our family was a mess. We were eating corn dogs for breakfast and cereal for dinner. The bathrooms were hideous. Our lawn wasn’t mowed. We were really having a difficult time just surviving.
And while birth is not the same as death, there are similarities.
Eleven weeks ago, the being known as my Peter, was not here. Our family is forever is changed because he is now here. Eleven weeks after Joy died, we were forever changed by the absence of her presence.
If it took awhile to get used to her absence, it stands to reason that it should take awhile for us to adjust to the presence of a new soul.
Something from heaven right here in our midst.
So I think I should be able to give myself a little bit of patience and relax a little. There will be time after this to do all that I want to do. There will be time for trips and landscaping and visiting museums and redecorating the family room and all of that.
But there will never be another time that Peter is brand new from heaven.
When I was in Florida, I used to go to Magic Kingdom and watch the fireworks after a long day of walking…of making myself walk. I wanted to be able to walk and move and do for my kids and I often felt that it was only appropriate after a particularly hard day of hundreds of painful steps that I should reward myself with fireworks…
During the show, the audience learns about wishes and how they come from the heart and all of that. And at the beginning, we hear Peter Pan wishing:
I wish we’d never have to grow up! Off to Neverland!!!”
And that’s the part where I would always inevitably get emotional. I always thought of Joy…and how in a way, here in mortality, she was granted Peter’s wish–to never grow up. She lives in a kind of Neverland–where she never has to experience pain or growing up the way we do….and I would always kind of be a little sad about that. I would always feel very much like Wendy in Chapter 17:
“Good-bye,” said Peter to Wendy; and he rose in the air, and the shameless Jane rose with him; it was already her easiest way of moving about.
Wendy rushed to the window.
“No, no,” she cried.
“It is just for spring cleaning time,” Jane said, “he wants me always to do his spring cleaning.”
“If only I could go with you,” Wendy sighed.
“You see you can’t fly,” said Jane.
Of course in the end Wendy let them fly away together. Our last glimpse of her shows her at the window, watching them receding into the sky until they were as small as stars.
And as I watched the night light up with beautiful fireworks over a magical castle, I felt a stabbing pain and realized what it is like to “grow up,” something I vowed I would never do when I was first introduced to Peter so long ago. But it felt as if I were Wendy at the window, letting Peter take my Joy with him off to Neverland….
Ironically, at the time I also had a Jayne. And I knew when I saw those fireworks I would name my last baby, who would be a boy, Peter. Maybe it was in a hope that I could somehow reverse the growing up that had so sadly happened to me.
Maybe I thought he could somehow bring something of Joy back to me, and in some way keep Jayne from growing up too fast, too.
Maybe I thought he could be the balm to my sorrows and the end of the worst part of the grief of losing her.
Maybe I thought he would be the one to give me wings–to let me fly again–because I had forgotten.
For to have faith is to have wings…
Maybe I thought he would let me keep them all in my heart as my beautiful little children–that somehow by naming him Peter, all my precious treasures could somehow “never grow up” and I could stop time and remain in the environs of the magic timelessness that is childhood. And remain in the time when Joy is a sweet, close almost-here-again memory, where I can still recall her smell and her laughter…
Maybe I thought in naming him Peter, my life would be always as it is just now–surrounded by pixie dust and faeries and make believe and stories and crocodiles and jungles and islands and adventure and the feeling of never being scared unless it is for fun…
It’s been eleven weeks, and I don’t know if the name bestowed the magic, but I begin to feel it.
Even in realizing that in eleven weeks I do not have to tidy up the house and be grown up.
I can rest and daydream and even take the time to feel restless because my mind is ready for more than my body.
I begin to feel it as I look at my son, who will be leaving home to serve a mission for two years. Looking at him in his suit and tie, seeing my 13 year old in his uniform at Civil Air Patrol looking like he wants to be 23…seeing my 16 year old girl acting like, well, an adult….like me. Only better…
I see them growing up but there is something else–I see the faith they have in make believe and childhood and Joy–and to have faith is to have wings–and to have wings–well, to have wings and faith is to fly. And I think, in my heart of hearts, that these few children–my loves–maybe Peter brought them the pixie dust and they will never forget how to fly.
And maybe, if I am lucky, I will remember, too.
“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”