It all felt like a dream.
I was suddenly backed into a corner of a room - watching a series of events unfold that, before then, I had only seen on medical TV dramas. But this was my life. And this was my son. And as I stood there, alone, and watched a team of doctors and nurses move at high speed in slow motion...I couldn't move.
Screwing an IO line into his femur.
Ed answering at work on the first ring - the true miracle of the day.
Watching as Gavin's light skinned little body that I worked so hard to protect and keep safe and nourish and moisturize and exercise and more was almost manhandled.
Watching as his tiny body was surrounded - and even straddled - for six long minutes as they tried and tried to breathe life...LIFE...into him.
My son hadn't even reached six years - and in just six minutes his future was about to end in that room with his Mom backed into a corner...frozen.
And here I am again.
The meal trains have long ended.
The mourners have gone back to their lives.
The sun has rose and set on this void for over two years.
But there's that six minutes that turned into 1, 401,120 minutes that are suddenly invading my thoughts every day.
Yesterday, the kids and I created a "Christmas Art Gallery" in the playroom. I hung up huge pieces of colorful art that they made on the wall and, of course, wanted to take a photo. I held up my phone and as I was waiting for Hope to turn and at least look my way (I don't even try to capture perfection at this age!) I saw something.
"Brian! The craziest thing just happened. I was looking at you guys through my phone to take the picture..." I started.
"And you saw Gavin?" he finished.
"Wait, what?" I stared at him.
"Gavin's in here with us." he said, matter of factly.
What I saw was a ball of light almost dance right in front of Hope and Brian. Brian knew before I did what I experienced. It was... well... there aren't a lot of words to describe what it was or what it felt like.
Last night, tucking him in, I brought it up.
"Do you still see Gavin, buddy?" I asked.
"Sometimes." he said.
"You are so lucky! I wish I could see him." I replied.
"He's always here, Mom. Well sometimes he's not here because he's with us when we go out." he told me.
It's hard not to believe a six year old who confidently assures you that his brother who died is still "here" - but it really got me thinking.
"Brian. You don't know this - but you just helped Mommy a lot tonight. Something just occurred to me!" I told him with a small smile.
"Huh? What?" he replied with curiosity.
"Know what I think? I'm not sure I really believe in death anymore. I mean - people die and it's terrible and we would rather them be with us, let's be honest. But they only really ended this journey with us. He is alive in his new life with God and Jesus in Heaven! He's alive! We should be happy that he's alive and gets to not only be with us still, but that he gets to have all these amazing experiences wherever he is. He's alive, don't you think?" I anxiously told him.
"Huh. I like that." he told me.
Now if I can just convince my tired body, my grieving heart and my endless tears that this is true.
I stepped away from writing this for a while. Left it overnight, actually. Went grocery shopping and picked up items for Brian's big birthday party this weekend. Felt remorse for a nanosecond that I have let a lot go - my house, my appearance, my motivation to do anything, go anywhere - over the past couple months as I succumbed to a depression. I thought about the comment I got that "you only do fundraisers for things that matter to you and your small circle." I did not reply, but for another nanosecond I felt guilty like that was a bad thing. Then for the next few minutes I thought, well I'm pretty sure that it matters for the thousands and thousands of children that will enjoy toys and instruments and games and books and art supplies and movies while they are enduring a long hospital stay at Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital for Children...where, by the way, patients come from all over the world to see their excellent doctors and surgeons. And for hundreds of thousands - maybe more - that will enjoy the future all abilities playground with their siblings, parents, friends while they're visiting...going to therapy...a doctor's appointment or are hospitalized at the same hospital. I'm pretty sure it matters to the thousands and thousands of children who will, for years to come, have access to special needs classrooms all over this area. Classrooms that are furnished with therapy aids and furniture and toys and books. Therapists that will feel better equipped with updated toys and therapy aids so they can continue to help the thousands of children they will see over the years. I don't think the thousands and thousands of families that will come from all over the country - or even the world - to Philadelphia for an organ transplant will judge who the money came from that helped to keep their stay and all that came with it... free.
And I'm pretty confident that it will matter to the ONE person who receives an organ transplant from the ONE person ANYWHERE in this world who decided to say YES to organ donation because of Gavin Leong. I can only do so much...and my small circle has pretty big ripples.
Gavin's story with us - and the world... it has a beginning and it has a middle. They were incredible, life changing years. But I haven't been able to really see an end. That is, in part, because of all that has been done in his name. SO much has been done and, for that, I am so - SO - proud to be his Mom.
But that doesn't erase the fact that I am feeling the enormous loss of his presence in our home and in my arms profoundly - more than ever before. I am functioning and still the same Mommy as before - but I have been so, so sad.
It's amazing how quickly your life can completely change in just six long minutes.