I slammed through the initial stages of greif and hit hard into the bargaining.
I had so many reasons Aaron need to stay.
And I was petitioning the Lord like a lawyer with a well prepared case.
So many things flew through my mind.
A random image of these brothers I'd seen last summer in PEI. Both in their early twenties the older, bigger one I could tell was autistic but it was the younger one who captivated my attention. There were crowds and so the autistic young man was struggling a bit, trying to withdraw from the extra stimulas. His little brother so naturally, as he continued to converse and laugh with the rest of their group, just would reach up and gentle steer his brother through the crowd.
I remembered thinking that kind of instinctual compassion had been built up in the young man through years of serving and loving his special brother.
How would my boys become like him, with out Aaron?!?!
We wanted to serve missions with him. Ben wanted to build him the three tiered trampoline yard he'd planned as part of our dream house one day. Just next month I wanted to throw a celebration at Aaron's school for Autism Awareness Day.
I could just envision this huge hole in our lives, in the dreams that we had so carefully reconstructed to accommodate him always being there. The thought of him not being there caused my whole core to ache with the painful thought of years of missing him everyday and how thousands of little things would remind me of my blue eyed boy. My whole body would surely long for him, even my hair would be haunted with the memory of his little fingers. It was unbearable to consider.
I thought of all the others who would be shattered.
Ben's Aunt and Uncle who lost their teenage daughter to a merciless blood clot after what was also meant to be a one day dental surgery. I thought how I didn't want Alli's happiest day to be mared by tragedy. His aids and teachers at school who had lost the little girl they worked with before Aaron just last year. It just was all too cruel.
I thought of how I felt I had searched for and received with such clarity a vision of Aaron's purpose on this earth. How I had held to the mission he had to influence and touch others in his unique way. How I had come to the conclusion that his existence was intricately and indispensably linked to my own growth and progression and that of our family.
How would I become who I needed to become without Aaron?
And as I in desperation spilled my arguments before the Lord, I felt Him, as if He'd stooped down and slowly lifted my chin and opened my eyes, to a whole other vision.
I saw what I felt like was such an unimaginable alternative, yet it was okay.
And I felt my soul surrender.
And as I gave Him my trust, He flooded me with peace.
If it is Thy will to have Him home with Thee, I will be grateful for the time we had him and work to continue the great work of influence and faith building Aaron has always been a part of in his special way. I will not loose faith, I promised, as hard as that would be, I will trust and continue to serve and testify.
If that was the Lord's plan, He would be there for me. He would compensate and make all the heartache be swalled up in his merciful grace and be for our good. I knew that.
But until I that moment I hadn't felt it.
"Your mission is the same. Aaron's mission is the same. Whether he stays or goes, your mission is still to bring souls to Christ. That is what matters."
It was as if I could envision another reality, not void of grief, but oh so full of comfort and endowed strength, where we could continue on in faith and be given beauty for ashes and where the bitter would give way to the sweet.
My will had been laid down, offered up to whatever the Lord saw fit.
I picked up my phone and went to my scriptures.
Words from D&C 7 seemed to be in bold on the screen.
What desirest thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.
The Lord had used the teaching moment. He so wisely had let me learn for myself what I was willing to place on the alter, and now he could show me the ram in the thicket.
...Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.
Power over death! Power! Priesthood! How had I not thought of this until now. Dr. Leishman, the dentist was a member of the church, he could administer to Aaron.
I paced outside the operating room, waiting for someone, anyone to come through the doors. Finally a nurse did.
"Is Dr. Leishman still here?" I asked. He was and she said she'd fetch him for me.
I think I kinda remember him from young adults up in Edmonton, but I really didn't know him at all, but I knew he held the Priesthood, and that was all I needed to know.
He came out looking so weary, unable to really assist when it was beyond the human mouth.
I looked at him with what must have been an equally weary face, with red, pleading eyes.
Before I'd even finished, through my cracking tear filled voice, "Will you give him a blessing?"
He'd replied, "Yes, yes of course, yes of course I will."
The STARS team had arrived and while they prepared all the medicines and machines they'd need in the helicopter I folder my arms and closed my eyes after watching Dr. Leishman's gloved hands gently reach and rest on Aaron's head.
The monitors seemed to beep quieter, in reverence, as in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood Aaron was blessed. No proclamation of healing or calling forth of miracles, just a whispered assurance that he was loved of His Father in Heaven, who was perfectly aware and that He would be with us.
With that Amen, even though I still opened my eyes to probably the scariest sight of my entire life, I felt things would be okay.
I walked to my van to call Ben who was on his way with the other two boys.
Glad for the privacy as I sobbed,
"My baby, my baby" as I watched that helicopter take off.
Ben pulled up just in time for Mckye and Levi to point at the "ha-copper!!!" all smiles and excited, "Mommies!!!"
I hugged them tight and told them how much fun they would have a grandmas before I hugged my mom with tear filled thankyous and Ben and I started the drive to Calgary.
I was so grateful for texting during the whole thing.
I could busy myself updating friends and family. Asking for prayers, and receiving heartfelt messages of concern and support with out actually having to talk to anyone, which surely would have just resulted in my tears. I was so grateful to feel like I had my friends with me, maybe not there holding my hand but instead I held them, my own life line, monitoring me as steadily as Aaron's medical machines charted his vitals.
Once we got to the Children's Hospital's paediatric ICU Aaron's room was still full of medical personal. The anesthesiologist specialist pulled us aside and reassured us that the Pincher Creek hospital staff had done everything perfect, that they in fact saved his life. It's a very rare condition and so for a little small town anesthesiologist to one, catch it and two, be courageous enough to go ahead and say yup that's what it is lets treat it (plus get on the phone immediately with MH experts in Boston) it was amazing. I'm so grateful we weren't just at a private dental clinic when it happened. There was almost an excitement among the medical staff. The last case of MH at the Children's hospital was 10 years ago, so they were eager to confirm it as a "bonafide" case.
Because of the genetic component, we got to meet with genetic counsellors who told us we needed to contact extended family and let them know there was a good chance it was inherited and that before any member of the family went under anaesthetics they should be letting their Drs know their is MH in the family. That we needed to order him a medical alert bracelet right away.
All while Aaron still looked like this:
It was so stragne to me that today was meant to be so busy. Aaron dental appointment, pick up Ben's suit at the dry cleaner, pack the boys to go to my moms, pack us for the wedding, drive to Salt Lake, write Alli's toast on the way.
I kept thinking of the quote from Pres. Monson's talk:
When compared to eternal verities, most of the questions and concerns of daily living are really rather trivial. What should we have for dinner? What color should we paint the living room? Should we sign Johnny up for soccer? These questions and countless others like them lose their significance when times of crisis arise, when loved ones are hurt or injured, when sickness enters the house of good health, when life’s candle dims and darkness threatens. Our thoughts become focused, and we are easily able to determine what is really important and what is merely trivial.We'd signed McKye up for t-ball the night before, after going out to sushi for Ben's birthday. I had flooring samples sitting in my living room, I had outfits laid out on my bed trying to decide what to wear to Alli's wedding.
And suddenly all that mattered was wanting to hold Aaron's hand again and see him smile.
The goal was to make it 48 hours with no occurrences at which point he could come off the drugs for MH.
It was a little bit tricky treating Aaron, just because we had no idea how he would act once he woke up. The kid can't handle wearing socks, let alone endure a breathing tube and dozens of other monitor wires and IVs. They keep him pretty sedated, not that it took much with all the residual effects of the huge doses of muscle relaxant he'd been treated with, along with just the weariness of his own body after such a struggle.
My one friend commented on how strange it was to see this picture of Aaron, "Whenever you think of Aaron, it's his eyes you think of first. Maybe because they communicate so much that he otherwise can't."
I just kept thinking he was being robbed of his secret weapon! How were his nurses going to fall in love with him without seeing his big blue eyes or getting his Aaron-style hugs and kisses? Or hearing his infectious giggle fits?
From the foot of his bed, I thought about how much Aaron would have preferred running his fingers through his nurses long hair, rather than have his lungs suctioned.
It became pretty clear that Aaron had a pretty bad infection in his lungs. Turne out to be strep pneumonia and another type of influenza.
I felt pretty dumb when the doctors would ask if he'd had a cough or cold symptoms prior.
Winter? I replied sheepishly (but honestly.)
He really has been sick off and on forever. Our whole family has passed sniffles and coughs back and forth, as often as we rotate beds each night! It's pretty impossible to get oral drugs in him, so we don't frequent the doctor. So I felt pretty guilty about that. Again I was grateful for access to my friends via text, where I could share my familiar "mommy-guilt" and receive lovely vindication in return, in the form of "oh ya pneumonia can be tricky, my sisters taken her kids in a couple times with a "pesky cough" and been told it's pneumonia." Oh, good I'm not alone.
He probably caught the other infection from all the Isites, so I tried to just focus on the positive, that we could get him a good hard hitting course of antibiotics and get him all cleaned out and home healthier than he came in.
It was a hard few days.
We got to know the hospital cafeteria pretty well.
Had a few friends visit. Armed with shampoo and treats and the distraction of their conversation. (You knew Ben had hurried out the door, when he left with out a hat!)
Ben's mission companion and his wife brought us dinner one night.
Friends watching my kids sent darling pictures of them getting tucked into bed for the night.
Happy and safe and having a blast sleepover at friends houses.
I looked at pictures of Alli's wedding over and over again, so happy for her.
Still sad I wasn't there.
We went to church. The brother that introduced himself ended up being a paediatric anesthesiologist up at children's who had been consulted about Aaron's case.
We looked up medical bracelets, trying to figure out how to squish Malignant Hyperthermia and non-verbal Autistic all onto the little metal plate.
I tried not to stress about the disastrous state I'd left my house in, sure that the ladies from church were in full force cleaning it up.
We looked up road reports and kept in contact with Ben's mom, who was having her own adventure trying to drive back form Salt Lake through a pretty nasty blizzard.
We held Aaron's hand and told him he woudl be jumping on the tramp in no time.
I read one of my favorite conference talk's again:
At these moments we can turn to the great plan of happiness authored by our Heavenly Father. That plan, when presented in the pre-earth life, prompted us all to shout for joy. Put simply, this life is training for eternal exaltation, and that process means tests and trials. It has always been so, and no one is spared.
Trusting in God’s will is central to our mortality. With faith in Him, we draw upon the power of Christ’s Atonement at those times when questions abound and answers are few.
That little purple line meant he was initiating his own breath! I wanted to take a picture of every purple pixel on the monitor!
It also meant he was getting stronger.
They weaned morphine and upped feeding tube preparing for him to wake up, waiting for him to be conscious enough to remove his breathing tube.
So much waiting.
Or so I thought.
Then I heard the nurses talking about a little boy getting released. Sounded like a big deal and I asked how longed he'd been here.
Twenty-two months. His whole little life. Suddenly, four days felt life nothing.
Monday, March 4th:
After being restless all night, and forcing the nurses to sedate him half a dozen times, he was real groggy in the morning and just wanted to sleep.
(Even hospitalized, he figured 3 am was still a fun time to be awake!)
They finally got him awake enough to take out the breathing tube.
I'm sure he was so glad to be rid of that thing.
He kept trying to open his eyes, pulling his eyelids up as far as he could, his lids still swollen with all the extra fluids.
Then I got to hold him.
After days of feeling so helpless to give him the physical comfort he relies so heavily upon, it felt soooooo good to have him back in my arms. Awake! Alive!
My Aaron, right where he belongs.
With the feeding tube out the next step was getting him to eat. The poor guy had been fasting since the night before the dentist, so he was ready!
And thankfully he wanted me, cuz I wanted him too.
And I have the granny iphone pictures to proove it!
Grandma Bretzke and Auntie Jaci made it and got soem snuggles of their own.
By Wednesday they were ready to release him from ICU, they just didn't know to where.
There wasn't room in the other unit at Children's and there was in Lethbridge, so it was a matter of getting him there.
I still hadn't seen Aaron smile though.
Ben brought McKye and Levi to the hospital Thursday morning exactly a week since it'd all began (the longest/shortest week of my life!)
I wish I would have got Levi's face, he was so concerned, he looked right past me, searching for Aaron, and then pointing (mostly at Aaron's cold sore) "Owweee??"
Aaron can get easily frustrated with his rambunctious brothers, but it only took minutes of them being there before I heard giggles from under his blankets.
Pulled them back and saw his first smile in a week!
I think he knew life was going to be normal again.
Normal. We were discharged Thursday afternoon, and came home to a sparkling house (thanks friends) and quickly returned to breaking up fights and making messes.
But I feel grateful for it all.
Grateful that the next morning Aaron woke up giggling.
I am so grateful that him leaving us was not the plan. So humbled, and thankful that our family and others get to continue learning from Aaron's special life.
But I am also grateful for that sacred moment when my Heavenly Father helped me know my heart and feel what it means to offer up our will to His all-knowing and entirely-loving plan for each of us.
I know He is real. I know He is aware of every soul. I know He will help us grow and stretch our souls in every necessary way in this mortal probation-- if we will let Him. And that all that we endure in this life is just to help us prepare for the glory of the next.
I know there is power in prayer. I know the Priesthood power is here on the earth once more, that the same power used by the Patriarchs of old and Christ's own apostles flowed through a quiet dentist and helped saved our sons life. I know the scriptures and words of the prophets and apostles in this day need to be continually stored up, filling our wells, so when the unimaginable happens living water can flow freely to our desperate souls. I know that the Holy Ghost is there to comfort us and lead us and hush our fears.
The primary was learning about the Atonement on Sunday, and I found myself telling them, "the Atonement is every way Jesus helps us." Oh how grateful I am for His help, His strength and His merciful love.
Thank thee for all Thy help, in all it's forms. I can't imagine going through that with out the Lord.
I love The Lord. I know He loves me. I know He loves Aaron, and sent him to me so I could better understand the intensity and unconditional nature of Gods love for His children.
And as good as it felt to hold Aaron again, that is but a taste of the joy we will feel back in our Heavenly Father's arms.
PS His dental work still needs done. But a few cavities can wait...for another week:)