Tuesday, February 01, 2011
What About Bob?
This is an unusually long blog post for me. Contents may be disturbing to some readers. Oh well.
The photo below, dignified representation of my family though it may be, is sadly lacking the presence of our newest member: Master Robert! (And the title "master" is not at all inappropriate here. This kid has the whole family wrapped around his pinkie toes.)
I believed we had another little boy coming to us for a couple of years before Bobby was born. I'm not one of those amazing mothers who dream about unborn children or instinctively "know" someone is missing. A friend, however, who I am convinced has a special gift, compensated for my lack of intuition. This friend informed me, at the funeral of my daughter, that my unborn son had been constantly by my side.
I've decided to share this very personal story because it has brought so much comfort to me to know I am surrounded by loved ones I cannot see. I have shared it with a few friends and family members, and their responses have ranged from a hesitant "hmm, that's interesting," to an ecstatic "I love stories like that! I totally believe in that stuff!" My own husband isn't sure where he stands on this subject, and is clearly uncomfortable with my degree of interest in it. I accept that about him, and anyone else who is a skeptic. All I can say is, this happened to me, and I have faith that it was real.
In 2005, I was involved in a series of classes addressing natural ways of eating and healing/preventing disease, taught with a Christian perspective. I was then and still am a faithful patient of modern medical practices, but because this class was in my neighborhood and I had friends attending, I decided to join. The classes were interesting, though the meals served were sometimes odd. I enjoyed the discussions and camaraderie with both friends and people I wouldn't otherwise have had occasion to associate with.
The subject of caffeine was raised one night. We were advised of the many ways it is detrimental to healthy living, and reminded that we are primarily in control of our own caffeine intake. Like a toddler throwing a tantrum, I went on a rant about how I couldn't possibly keep up with my four kids without the help of Diet Coke. Something along the lines of ...my youngest wasn't even walking, and I couldn't imagine being a suitable mother for the children I had on my own strength, and how could the mothers of big families survive without caffeine, and I better not have any more kids!
The teacher of the class, the friend I referred to earlier, looked at me and laughed. My eyes widened, because I saw in her laughter the implication that she thought I had more kids on the way. I think I said something like, "don't even suggest it!" I think I was actually angry, as though her words would jinx me and I'd become pregnant from the mere mention of the prospect. She smiled apologetically, and told me she thought I had "some more coming."
"Some?" I questioned, figuring that as even one more child was beyond my consideration at the time, more than one was unfathomable. She raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders. That was pretty much the end of that uncomfortable encounter. I'm not sure if I walked away from that night's class more upset that I had been called on my Diet Coke issues, or worried that maybe I was supposed to have more children; and how could I possibly do that?
Class was canceled the following week, and I had put the episode from my mind. In the interim, I was going about my normal routine when one day I realized I hadn't been paying attention to the calendar, and frankly, I was late. Having been very careful during the previous month I didn't think much of this, but when I found myself at a dollar store on one of the days after the realization, I picked up a pregnancy test just to put my mind at rest.
What I discovered when I got the results floored me! All I could do was pick up the phone, call Scott and say, "I'm looking at a positive pregnancy test." After a considerable pause, Scott replied with an enthusiastic "well, congratulations, dear!" We both laugh about that moment now. I'm so glad Scott had the correct response, because I was freaked out enough for both of us!
In the days leading up to the next class I was filled with anxiety. I had come to terms with the idea of being pregnant, but was terribly lacking in confidence about my ability to "keep it all together" with five kids age 9 and under. This was my first "surprise" pregnancy and it had completely rattled me.
I don't remember much about the topics of the next class, but I do remember anxiously waiting for everyone to leave at the end so I could get a moment alone with our teacher. When I did, I simply questioned her as to why she was so confident I had more children coming. Her response was, "because you have a little girl dancing and playing around you and sitting in your lap, and a little boy standing in the background."
I was utterly shocked and a little excited at this suggestion. I blurted out "well, I'm pregnant!" Neither of us had known this fact when we had last spoken. We smiled together and marveled at the crazy circumstance, and I grilled her with questions about what she had seen. Her feeling was that it was the little girl who was about to be born. Of course I asked if the presence of two children necessarily meant I would definitely have two more (still an impossibility in my mind). Her reply indicated not necessarily, but probably. In my mind I went with "not necessarily." He was probably the spirit of a cousin or uncle or friend just escorting her here.
Skipping to 2007, after having almost one whole year of enjoying my cheerful, pleasant, beautiful little daughter, I found myself at the loathsome occasion of her funeral. We were overwhelmed by the love of friends and family who came to offer comfort to us. The mention of "my son" was unexpected and oddly comforting, but it was an idea that was difficult to process while I was engulfed in grief and unable to think of much else. I had learned, however, to pay attention to what my friend had to say.
The following months are largely a blur to me now. I barely remember 2008 at all. I carried on to the best of my ability, and each time I saw my friend, she would mention that my son was around me, that he was aware that I wasn't ready for him yet. Scott felt there was another child for our family, also. People of course were asking me if I would consider having another baby, and occasionally I would tell them, "yes, I have a son coming," but I let everyone know that I wasn't going into a pregnancy fueled by grief. I looked forward to meeting my son, but wanted to be ready.
So, here we are now, almost a year-and-a-half after Bobby's arrival. He has been nothing less than a joy to have in our home. From my first doctor visit I spoke with confidence about the son I was expecting- even told the ultrasound technician before the machine had been turned on.
This is not a testimonial of psychic powers or a suggestion that everyone find a clairvoyant friend for guidance. My friend always acknowledged that any gift she might have could only be from God, and having studied the "gifts of the spirit" mentioned in the New Testament, I can accept that. I also don't mean to suggest that only pre-mortal loved ones are around us, having had other sweet experiences involving loved ones who have passed. My only hope in sharing this story, whenever I share it, is to give comfort to others through a reassurance that God has a plan for us, our families and loved ones are a part of that plan, and mere mortality cannot fully separate us.