January 07, 2011

The ongoing

The funeral for my son, Finn, was held Wednesday, Jan. 5. I can't say it was some sort of overly emotional experience because--as my wife pointed out--it's hard to get much more emotional than actually holding your child as he dies. So, the funeral was just a small, brief service, much like his body and life. He was later buried at the foot of his great-grandfather's grave.

I had never before had to request the services of a funeral home and, quite frankly, I found the whole experience rather daunting at first. Shortly after Finn died, we were handed a list of local funeral homes and, while the names were familiar to me, I had no direct dealing with any of them, except joking they all "put the FUN back in funeral."

I did, however, remember writing a news article more than ten years ago when I worked at a weekly newspaper in a nearby town of about 5,000 people. In the article, I wrote about how the elder patriarch of the local funeral home was officially handing the family business over to his son. It was a tenuous connection, at best, but it did provide some semblance of familiarity, so I called and asked for their services.

My funeral home choice turned out to be a good decision. They recognized my name, and they remembered the article, so we at least had that level of commonality to work with, which was a relief.

My wife held Finn during the service, and I was struck how different he looked from the wriggling mass I saw removed from wife's abdomen and, later, hooked up to more wires than a switchboard. In those instances though, he was alive, clinging to whatever fine fibers he could find to keep him anchored to this world. His skin had movement and purpose, and his veins were pulsating and alive.

In my wife's lap that morning of the funeral, he looked somehow sculpted or molded, as if someone switched out my son for a wax model of what a 23-week-old fetus is supposed to look like. Indeed, Finn looked, down to almost every detail, like a picture right out of the "A Child is Born" book I thumbed through so much as a child. Except, even days later, I could still see my son peeking out from behind it all. Still, it was as if you could plug him right back into a womb, sync up the umbilical cord and say "okay, we'll see you again in four months."

But, we won't. He's in the cold, hard winter ground now. At least his body is, although I suspect his soul is still sticking around for spring, at least so Finn can be assuaged that my wife and I hadn't planned on raising him in a frozen assland.


The next morning, the relatively mild case of gout I had been feeling the previous day had blossomed into Audrey II from "Little Shop of Horrors." Every step felt like I was trying to drag my left big toe through the house with a pick-axe embedded into the toe and the floor. Oh, and the pick-axe was dipped in acid and Alien blood, just to round out the mental image.

Considering all the stress I'd been under, coupled with a diet that could only be categorized as "borderline suicidal," I wasn't particularly surprised to develop physical manifestations of the emotions and wear I'd been experiencing over the previous week.

Generally speaking, Thursday, Jan. 6 was a non-day for me, as I spent the time sleeping, drinking copious amounts of water, and dragging myself around the house on my buttocks. Back in college, that would have been considered a fairly successful Sunday afternoon.

My wife, on the other hand, managed to pull herself together and go to the hospital to visit our daughter, Zoey, before the afternoon arrived. She spent the day at the hospital, and then called around 5 p.m. to tell me she would be staying there because Zoey had a tough night ahead of her, ventilator-wise.

Come 5 a.m. the next morning, I received a call informing me my wife's C-section incision was infected and had ruptured. And so began the day that will live in . . . limp-famy. Or something like that.

Posted by Ryan at January 7, 2011 08:46 PM | TrackBack

I am so sorry for your loss. I haven't lost a baby (and feel so selfish for even saying that) but so many of my friends have. The worst thing, they say, is feeling like it only happened to them. Healthy babies you see everywhere, you don't see how many people loose them. Your blog is a reminder to everyone who has lost a child that they aren't alone -- thank you for sharing.

God bless you and your family.

Posted by: Carolynn Gockel at February 15, 2011 07:22 AM
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