Well, Christmas has come and gone, and our trip to Utah is more than halfway over. For the most part I've done pretty good with keeping my emotions in check, but still letting myself feel the longing for my son on what have been his first Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I've had my faucet moments (the tears just come...sometimes harder than others, and sometimes I feel like a water faucet that is turned on and off). It's crazy, how at times, moments I imagine would be very difficult aren't as hard as I thought they might be, and moments I thought I would be just fine...I loose it...last night I had one of those moments!
My dad has been working really hard on getting all of our family film strips and videos put into DVD format so that we, as a family, can enjoy watching them more often. We've known about it for a while because one of our good friends has been doing a lot of the work on them. One day last month my dad called Rob after previewing one of the early filmstrip DVD's that had pictures and silent video of me and my two older brothers when we were just small. He was so excited for us to come home and see these darling moments of us being so cute and Innocent. After the phone call, we too were excited to watch the DVD's and see me as a little girl. This is one of those moments we imagined thoroughly enjoying, and not for one second did I imagine it being hard or difficult.
So, last night after opening gifts with my family we put in the first DVD and started watching. Right at the beginning was video of my mom when she was pregnant with my oldest brother. Initially I thought...oh, how cute! I hadn't see many pictures of my mom while pregnant with any of us. However, it didn't take too long for me to see the similarities between my mom and me when I was pregnant with Branson...and suddenly I could feel some very strong emotions beginning to build. Then, the next segment of the video was at the hospital shortly after my brother was born...the doctor holding him up proudly for my mom to behold her son for the very first time...he was screaming, filling his lungs with air, being weighed and measured, swaddled in a new receiving blanket, and passed to my mother's arms...things I never got see and experience with Branson. And...I lost it!
Tears started to freely flow down my cheeks and I began to feel sobs building inside my chest. However, not wanting to distract the rest of my family, I tried really hard to keep those sobs inside. I hate the feeling when I do that. It feels like there is a giant boulder sitting on my heart...the weight of that boulder is heavy and almost unbearable. It's like trying to keep a boulder that's hanging on the edge from rolling down a steep hill, and with one person pushing against the weight of that boulder, it can't be stopped for long.
I'm guessing my parents noticed the tears, and felt like they should change the video...so they put in the second DVD, and I thought, oh good...now the boulder will go away. Boy was I wrong. This video was filled with images of my brothers in the bathtub together, darling birthday cakes made by my mom, birthday parties, proud parents showing off their sons, Christmas's, crawling, cute outfits, baby waves, first days of school, and camping trips...and the boulder felt heavier than ever!
Until now I had mostly missed the baby things about Branson....stroller rides, bath time, breast feeding, cooing, swaddling, rocking, sleepless nights, and changing diapers just to name a few. I had pictured him only in the baby clothes that adorned his closet, and I had only "seen" him sleeping in the cradle and crib we had set up for him in his nursery. However, like a giant suname wave, I began to "see" all the things we'll miss in years to come.
My "loss" was being multiplied right in front of my eyes. We'll never get to see Branson in that way, or doing all those "little boy" things...no bath time with younger siblings, no birthday parties, no first day of school, no helping daddy in the yard, no playing cowboys and Indians, no crawling...none of it. I couldn't help but notice how much my older brothers looked like their sons, and my boulder began to roll...I wanted everyone to say...I can't believe how much Branson looks like you Nat. But, most of my family has only seen pictures...and that's all they'll ever see.
I had to get up and leave the room...I had to let the boulder fall. I couldn't support it's weight anymore. I hadn't even noticed that Rob too had left the room, but as I walked into my bedroom, I saw him lying on the bed with a tear stained face. I said, Are you okay? And that's all it took for both of us to loose it once again.
We just held each other and cried...letting the sobs flow freely. Somehow, in my husbands arms I felt strong although moments before I had felt weak. We talked about why it was so hard to watch that, and how it just isn't fair that we have to miss out on all of those moments with Branson. We commented on the fact that the only video we have is special to us, but not fun to watch...it's finding out Branson's heartbeat had stopped, it's filming the tears as I got ready to go to the hospital, it's a lifeless body being held in his mother's arms, it's daddy giving the only bath Branson would ever take...it's hard to watch, and even harder to think that it's the only video we'll ever have of him.
We got up and drove to the cemetery where our little boy's body is laid. We just sat there in silence letting some of the scare tissue build where the boulder had ripped our hearts apart. Once again we had to learn how to "deal with it", for what else could we do? I told Rob, Even when we have other children, I think part of my heart will still ache for Branson. I imagine that even experiencing these moments with our other children will be bitter/sweet.
I felt last night, more than I've felt before, that a permanent piece of my heart will always belong to him...and a chunk of my soul will be gone until that day the miracle will replace it.
So today as I sit here and type, the one thing that gets me through is knowing that someday we'll sit on a couch in Heaven with our eternal family, and there together we'll watch a most incredible video. We'll watch the video of our Earthly experience and we'll see how Branson has truly been a part of all of these moral moments in a Heavenly way. We'll see his influence wind through our lives, and we'll say to ourselves, we wouldn't have made it without his help. Then, we'll put in the second video and we'll see what Branson's been doing up there. We'll see all the people he's touched, and the lives he's changed. We'll see the knowledge he's gained, and the difference he's made. We'll see the missionary he's been and the valiant son of God he's remained. We'll see him come down to check on us, and help us over hurdles we'd face.
One day, together, we'll see our lives come full circle with his...one day we'll see we haven't missed anything, because we'll have it all. Until that day, we'll keep missing you Branson...but we'll look foward to the best movie night we'll ever have!