Saying Goodbye to Bryant, Joy for the Journey

Some thoughts on the road of healing after the loss of my 14 year old son by suicide

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

15 is the number of the day

My 3 year old is watching Sesame Street right now as I begin to write this. Now I'm not crazy about Sesame Street but she went to bed last night with a fever and she 's moving kinda slow. So we're doing TV this morning. And Elmo just announced that the number of the day today is 15.

Fifteen years ago today I had my second son Bryant. He was born on a Saturday afternoon at 2:31 pm one day before his due date of August 18.

My first son Brenton was 2 &1/2 years old at the time. Brenton was born on his due date. My labor and delivery with him from first labor pain to birth was a quick 4 & 1/2 hours and I'd been told that second babies generally come faster than the first.

So late Friday afternoon, on August 16, 1991 when I began to feel the first twinges of labor I called my husband at work and told him I thought things were getting started. At that point I had been feeling regular contractions for a couple of hours but they were coming in 10-15 minute intervals so I figured I still had some time. And in fact I did. Travis came home from work at the usual time, about 5 ish. We gave Brenton dinner and then took him to my mom's house. We visited with my mom for a bit, trying to determine our next move. Since my contractions didn't pick up any we eventually headed back home to get some rest. I remember that Travis didn't want to undress that night for fear that something would happen and we'd have to run out in a hurry with no time to spare.

Travis and I went to bed. By the time I woke at 6 am I had some serious contractions going on. I called my doctor's office but could not get an answer, not even the answering service. After the third failed attempt to reach anyone, I called Labor & Delivery at my hospital and they told me to come on in.

Now my plan for this baby was to try for a natural delivery. I'd had my first son so quickly I really thought this was doable. When we got to the hospital that morning I was 4 centimeters dilated. By 1 pm I was at 7 centimeters, still unmedicated and it was getting hard. My doctor came in and asked me what I was still doing pregnant. :) He said he thought for sure I would have been done by then. I'd gone as long as I thought I could without drugs so we called for the epidural. A little while later my nurse noticed some "irregularity" with the baby's heart rate on the monitors and she got the doctor. He checked me and informed me that the baby was head down and facing up instead of head down, facing down (or towards my back). The doctor tried to turn him but his heart rate plummeted and faster than I could say "jack sprat" I was in an operating room full of health care professionals, being prep'd for a C- section.

When they pulled the baby out (we hadn't found out his gender beforehand) I heard an audible gasp from several of the hospital staff. The baby's umbilical cord was wrapped multiple times around his neck. He was fine but they really gave me a scare for a minute there. He was a beautiful pink, 7 pounds, 7 ounces.

And so I was then the mother of two boys. We named him Bryant Colin ( meaning strong and virtuous child). He was such a little doll. We were discharged from the hospital on Monday morning. I remember dressing him in a cute little yellow two piece "coming home" outfit. After dressing him I remember thinking, wow you can barely tell where the outfit ends and he begins. Right about then the prediatrician told us he was jaundiced. My little pink fella had sure enough turned a sunny yellow.

A home health company met us at our house that afternoon to set up an untraviolet light in Bryant's crib in our bedroom. We were instructed to leave him under the light as much as possible, naked, wearing only a little blindfold to protect his eyes. A home health nurse would come back to check his billirubin each morning until it decreased to the normal level.

The emergency C-section was harrrrd. ('Til that point I had always thought I had a high pain tolerance but the recovery after surgery was hard.) Baby Bry only had to have the light for about 3 days. I remember the laugh we got on his first night under the light. Travis and I had gone to bed when we looked over to see a stream of pee coming up and out of his crib. It was so cute.

Where did the time go?

Our one and only vacation as a family of 6 ( since my 16 month old was born) was this time last year. We went to the Chattanooga Aquarium in Tennessee to celebrate Bryant's 14th birthday last August. We had a nice time and he loved having a special trip to celebrate, being the young man of the hour. How I thank God for that time and the memories.

Much of the the night of April 3, 2006 is a blur for me. My older son found Bryant dead and then came and told me. I ran up to his room, found him and touched him. He had already started to get cold. Somehow I made it downstairs and screamed for the phone. I managed to dial 911 and then my pastor. I think I called another friend but I don't know how. I remember writhing in pain in the floor of my front foyer. People came. Emergency personnel arrived. Someone ( I learned later it was Brenton) had gotten my husband at work. I remember seeing him briefly and then hearing the worst wails coming from him in the distance. ( He was rolling in the grass of our front lawn.) Someone managed to get me out of the floor and onto a sofa.

I was in labor again. The worst labor. Labor times a million. I was birthing a 120 pound, 5 foot 7 inch baby into heaven.

Over the next 5 days until we buried Bryant I would have the experience of labor pain two more times. The days after his funeral brought me a real and definite postpartum. There was a huge hole in my soul that was almost tangible. This was not just in my head. I felt as though a cannon ball had been blown right through me. On the Wednesday after his funeral the women of my church met at my house so I could share. After our time of sharing they prayed for me. Someone asked the Lord to give me a quick healing for the hole in my soul. Within a day or so after they prayed it was completely gone ( filled).

It has been an interesting 19 weeks since Bryant left us. I use the word interesting only because there is not a single word that could describe our loss. It has been horrible and yet wonderful (because of the comfort God has given), awful and yet sweet (because of the love He's poured out on us). I could go on and on.

There is so much more I could write but I'll save it for another time. As I was talking to a dear friend a few weeks ago about all the Lord has done in this tragedy, about how strange it was to take the first step to move on with life, she said to me that Bryant left an empty space in our lives. A space that will never go away. This is so true... But I realized something this morning when I woke up on his birthday feeling "a peace that passes all understanding." I said before that I am a kinder, gentler Sharmayn since my son's death. And I now understand why. Jesus has filled the space Bryant left in my life with Himself. I can't help but be different. With all the questions, all the pain, grief, regret, and sorrow, Jesus has given me a way and a reason to go on.

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name.

" You will teach me how to live a holy life. Being with You will fill me with joy; at Your Right Hand I will find pleasure forever." (Psalm 16:11)

Happy Birthday Bryant! I miss you and love you so very much.


Blogger MugwumpMom said...

Your posts are simply amazing. The grace and strength with which God has filled you is amazing. What you have to teach and show all of us is amazing. You are amazing...and I'm willing to bet Bryant was too.

Thankyou so much for sharing all this.

17 August, 2006 17:18  
Blogger PowerHouse Youth Center said...

Your strength is extraordinary, it gives hope to anyone who reads your post who might ever face a tragedy such as yours.
I watched my own mother 8 years ago as she had to "birth" her 17 year old baby girl into heaven. It was devastating to her. I wish she could have had the strength you have now. The only limit God has in these situations is the limit we put on Him. Thank you for sharing your deepest heart.
<>< Melissa

19 August, 2006 06:49  
Blogger MugwumpMom said...

Hope all is well with you. My prayer is for your continued strength and peace.

02 September, 2006 09:22  

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