Today is the day that I drive myself.
I will get behind the wheel of a car for the first time in more than 6 weeks.
I will drive myself to the hospital and I will go and see Hazel Grace all by myself.
I will sit by her isolette, and I will talk to the nurses and I will help in her care and then I will walk back to my car and get in and drive myself home.
So what does this mean?
Does this mean that I'm better now?
Does this mean that it's all back together now? I can walk upright and bend with little to no pain and I can turn and pivot enough to drive a car and be mobile all by myself, so it's all back to normal now?
It has been 22 days since Hazel Grace was taken from that sacred space beneath my heart and sometimes I feel like they made a mistake and they took my heart, too, and my heart is lying there bare and bloody and beating in tandem with hers right next to her in that plastic tank that she lives in...
but really, it's not. It's not there. It's right here in my chest.
I know this because I am living.
I am getting up every day. I am eating breakfast, I am watching the kids, I am making lunches and sweeping floors and washing hanging folding laundry and wiping tears and bottoms and eraser shavings made in frustration at the letters that just won't form right on the page...
I am living.
And I say to myself...
'Self', I say, 'Self, it's been 22 days. Pull yourself together and get 'er done.'
But then I say to myself...
'Self, it's only been 22 days.'
It's an eternity and it's a blink of an eye.
Hazel Grace is 3 weeks old today.
Hazel Grace is negative 13 weeks old.
She had 13 weeks left...I had 13 weeks left. 13 weeks of her snuggled under my rib cage.
But now she's out here...out there...and those 13 weeks were stolen from us both and there's nothing we can do about it but go on because there's nothing we can do to get them back.
And they are life changing weeks. They are weeks that determine a life, a fate a destiny, and there's no way to change that. No way to tuck her back in to safety, no way that I can care for her anymore in that watery sanctuary...
and so she goes on and I go on and I long to snuggle her and I know she wants me too.
I can feel her and I know she feels me. He levels are always better when I'm there...her monitors beep a little less when I hold her head in my hand or even when I just peer in at her and whisper her prayer over her
May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
I whisper this over her, and I know she hears me, but in reality, she and I both know that this prayer is really for me.
Hazel Grace is peaceful. She does not worry, she rests secure. She trusts and rests and grows. She breathes and we rejoice in those breaths.
But I am the one who needs the peace. I am the one who struggles and fights and worries and fears, not Hazel Grace.
I struggle against all the things they do to her...all the x-rays and antibiotics and steroids and blood transfusions...all the things we so desperately try to keep our kids from and here my most vulnerable is subject to those things daily. And I fear for her because what if what saves her life today...? I can't even think it.
And I know that God does indeed turn His face to me and it shines just for me, but often I am turned away...
gazing instead at the tiny form of my micro preemie for whom I can do nothing, or curled over the pump as I spill the life giving milk into freezer bags or looking down as my fingers gently explore the healing gash on my belly...
Or looking inward searching for myself in all of this...
instead of looking up and receiving peace.
So, dear Hazel Grace, as I drive myself to your side to hover over you and pray your prayer, your benediction, open your little all knowing eyes and mirror back to me what I say to you...
And may the Lord bless and keep us both.