Today was the first day that I have been to church in about 2 months or so. First because I was on bedrest and then because I was in the hospital, and then because I had to go to the hospital to visit Hazel when I could get a ride, so I had to go when it was best for someone else to take me.
But today, since I am now back behind the wheel, I was able to go to church and sit in our regular pew right there up front next to Jimmy.
It was a good feeling.
It was kind of hard to make the decision to go to church. I know that sounds bad, but in all honesty, I wasn't sure that I was ready to go. I can use the excuse that it is because it is a good time to go to see Hazel because the kids are all occupied so they won't miss me, but that's not entirely honest.
To put it bluntly, I'm angry.
I mean, how could He let this happen? How can He let someone so tiny suffer? What has sweet baby Hazel Grace done to deserve this kind of treatment????
If I darken the doors of the church, if I warm that pew right there up front, if I sit and stand and listen and sing, will I know the answer?
So what's the point in going?
But I went anyway.
I went because Elizabeth, our oldest, was going to be leading a worship song with 2 of her friends from the Youth Group. She was going to play the guitar and sing, and Maggie was going to sing and play the keyboard, and Brigid was to play percussion.
So, I wanted to...had to...go. As much as I need to be by Hazel's side, I need to be there for the rest of them, too.
So I went.
And I sat and I listened to my oldest sing and strum and she did a wonderful job. She has grown into her own self. I wish I had video taped it. She is amazing.
Her voice is warm and silky, and her fingers found all the right strings at the right time, and she sang what was in her heart, which was praises to God...
and I heard them.
But then, after service, we left the kids in Sunday School and Jimmy and I went to visit Hazel Grace.
We walked in and peered into her isolette, and she was just lying there with her head tipped back and tubes running down her throat and her arms splayed with IV's in them and she was just there with her eyes closed...
That's it. No movement of her own, only the jetting of her small torso in response to the ventilator that is keeping her alive.
From vibrant life singing and strumming to just-barely-hanging-on-life jetting and breathing.
Intense pride that fills the heart to the brim with joy to intense worry that fills the heart to the brim with pain.
How does one do this? How does one hold the joy together with the pain?
When we got back to the church to pick the kids up, people would tell how wonderfully Elizabeth sang and ask how baby Hazel was doing...all in one breath.
Pride and pain. A balancing act.
How is it possible to not let one emotion take over and push the other one out?
I have been told that there are some parents of NICU babies that don't come in to see their preemies nor do they call to check in for days or even a week or more at a time.
And I have been told of parents who check out with their families and stay by the side of the isolette for hours and hours a day.
How do you hold it all in your heart? How do you keep it all together?
I sit at night, hunched over this keyboard in an attempt to sort some of this out...to process the unfathomable...to make some sense of the senseless.
Four here...one there. A teeter-totter somehow trying to balance one tiny baby with the weight of a whole family without letting anyone drop and hit the ground hard.
Gabriel asks to go and see Hazel Grace. I told him that if he was a good boy in the grocery store, then, when we were done, we would call the NICU, see how Hazel was doing and go see her if she felt up to it. He was so excited! He asked to carry a baby doll through the store. He sat nicely in the cart, didn't ask for things and held his baby carefully and gently. He positioned the doll gently in his lap so that she could see the things that we were buying and asked a million 'why' questions of the checker, but stayed sitting nicely in his seat.
Then we got to the car, he got strapped in, and I called the NICU.
Baby Hazel Grace was getting a blood transfusion. She was not doing well. She needed peace and quiet and to rest gently under her blanket that drapes over her isolette and darkens it.
It was not a good time for a visit from her 3 year old brother.
Gabriel was so disappointed, and I was disappointed for him. He had done so well in the store, and he had taken such good care of his baby doll, and he so wanted to visit his sweet baby Hazel Grace...
but he couldn't.
He had to be content with coming back home, eating a cookie and looking at pictures of his tiny sister.
A balancing act...soothing the disappointment of one for the good of the other.
But I guess this is all just training for life. It's all a balancing act.
And sometimes I feel like the biggest balancing act of all is just me...
getting up...standing up...staying up...moving forward...
and if I do fall...
picking myself up again.
Because I've got a lot riding on my shoulders that all depends on me to be able to continue this wild and crazy
And the best way I've learned to balance
Is looking up.