The son embraced

When I was 5 years old, my mother prematurely delivered a son named Nicholas. He lived for a few days and then passed away. I distinctly remember my mother coming home without him, and telling me that he had died after I had planned a picnic with him, my mom, and other baby brother. We had a fish tank in the bedroom where she told me and to this day, I cannot look at one without remembering that conversation.

His death impacted us in several different ways. My mom was a couple of years deep into a marriage that was steadily growing into this huge abuse cancer. Thirty years ago you were unable to touch a baby that small and weak in the hospital, so she couldn’t hold him while he was alive. And when he died, her husband decided he no longer existed and would not allow her to hold him, rock him, or say goodbye. He wouldn’t allow anyone to attend the funeral. He put his coffin in the ground himself, and then they boarded a bus away from the cemetery. His name was never allowed to be mentioned again in our house. Not while the old man was around, anyway. It would be 20 years and a divorce later before my mom would be able to visit his grave, still without a headstone. The month of February would turn my mom into a zombie, and even though many babies came after that, he was still as present as ever.

A few weeks before my son was conceived, I had this really beautiful, warm and vivid dream that my family was at a very classy looking private school campus. We were at the football field and it was really sunny out. We were there to see Nicholas, who by now was a grown man, compete in the Special Olympics. He was really handsome, dark golden blond hair, really strong and healthy. He was a star athlete. The dream never really said what was wrong with him that he was away at a school or in the Special Olympics but it all seemed quite natural and normal. His name was even in a newspaper I was holding at the time.

This dream affected me in such a way that I was a different person for days. I felt as if I had truly seen an angel. I felt the sun on my face. I felt the breeze on the football field. I could smell the stone of the buildings surrounding us. I had never dreamed of Nicholas before. He was always this tiny red baby in my mind. He didn’t speak in the dream, but he really didn’t need to.

When I found out I was pregnant a few weeks later, I felt like it was some kind of sign, some kind of way of him telling me that he would take care of my baby until he got here. It also made me an emotional wreck. I was so relieved to know that February was past my due date. I had become so suspicious of that month. I was petrified of a premature delivery. I remembered thinking that a miscarriage would be less painful than a premature delivery. I thought about him more than I ever had before and was so sad. Sad for my mom, sad for my struggling baby brother.

When I did have my son, middle name Nicholas, my labor and his delivery was extremely difficult. He sustained an injury during the delivery, and was also diagnosed with an additional problem which required surgery immediately. He was rushed via ambulance to another hospital, and I waited until morning to get released. The results of his injury, the amount of drugs needed for my botched delivery, and the anesthesia he was under for the surgery resulted in physical and developmental problems that linger, almost two years later. He has a profound delay in his speech and communication skills. He is getting better every day and is under the best care possible. But it leads me back to my dream.

I was thinking about my son’s delays and how we are unsure what he has in store for his future. Will he always have these problems? Will he be “normal” or will he be in special classes? Maybe he will be the star of the Special Olympics. Maybe it was my son in my dream (his hair is lightening up quite a bit, and Nicholas in my dream had a few of my husband’s facial features) and not Nicholas.

I don’t know what the future holds for my son, and I can’t speculate what the future would have held for Nicholas. I am so blessed that I was able to name my child after him, that I was able to bring back his name in a joyful and positive tribute. I am so appreciative that my mom is here to hold her grandson and enjoy new life, hopefully making her old life more bearable to remember, perhaps give her a momentary break in her grief.

Maybe I just drank too much coffee this morning, or maybe I am thinking too hard, or all of the press about the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and the Special Olympics is seeping into my thoughts.

I think what I choose to believe is that I met someone in my dream two years ago. Was it my baby brother, blissfully living a whole healthy life in Heaven, or  was it a glimpse of the man my son will become in his future? It’s difficult to say. I do know for certain that I enjoyed my warm moment in the sun with this young man, and I embrace the notion of doing it again.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Myrtle
    Sep 09, 2009 @ 22:30:52

    What a touching, amazing story – I love this one and I’ve read it several times. You rock, Bebe. 🙂


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