A couple of hours before we were ready to leave the nurses asked us how we would prefer to part ways with Rowan. The absurdity of this question will forever haunt me – as if there is a way I would “prefer” to say goodbye to my son, forever goodbye.
Truly horrible days, it seems, are all too often augmented by the horror of having to make decisions you aren’t prepared in any way to make. Decisions that you know you may sink in or float on for all of your days.
We talked about it. Like earlier decisions in the previous handful of hours, I thought about it in terms of “which will feel worse?”. Not just now, but in 5 minutes, in 5 hours, in 5 years. And how am I to really know? I can only answer for right now. But still, when you sit with it, if you know yourself, you can be reasonably sure.
Our options were to have them take him from us to the morgue, or to leave him in my hospital room bed when we left. Truly, it was an easy choice. If they take him, if they take my son, I will forever picture him naked on a cold table in the morgue. I will always feel as though the last embrace he felt was that of a stranger. But if we leave him, leave our son, here in this bed where he came to us, we can remember him that way. As ours.
It’s just his body. But in those early moments, when the body is all you know, it’s heavy on yours and too light in your arms, so fragile and yet strangely unbreakable, and you can’t part with it. It must need you, the way it did until now, the way it was always supposed to.
Now, even just weeks later, I know the other parts of him, the parts that settle deep in my soul. The parts, actually, that I knew before he even came to us, and they become and grow like memories. The parts that don’t need a body to make a space in our world.