Saturday, July 19, 2008

Joshua and Jeremy

Just about a month ago the article about Joshua came out in magazines across New Zealand.
A few days later I received a call from a woman who had read the article. She told me her name and then told me that they too had lost their son, and he'd had an encephalocele. I remember being almost speechless. Anyone who knows me, know this doesn't happen very often. In fact the two times I can think of are that time, and the time the doctor told us they couldn't fix Joshua. I mumbled a few things and tried to ask the things I was curious about. Was in big? Did they hold him? How long ago? Did they have other children?

We talked for over an hour that night. At the end of the conversation she mentioned that her husband family lived in our city, and that occasionally they drive up to see everyone (they live 6+ hours away). She asked if "sometime" she might meet me. I said that would be fine, thinking perhaps it would be in a few months, or at Christmas.

Just last week I got a phone call late in the evening, and this same woman said hello. I got confused, and thought it was someone else - someone I didn't like. I was slightly curt and a bit detached in our conversation until she mentioned she and her family were "coming up" and could we meet? And suddenly it clicked that this was Gillian! I apologized profusely, explaining my detached conversation, and said yes please! We arranged for 2pm the following Saturday, and hung up the phones.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I was cleaning the house. And feeling scared. What if I felt odd, what if I didn't want to talk! What if she made me feel strange, or I felt like I HAD to talk when I didn't want to! At a quarter to 2, as I was vacuuming my lounge and bemoaning my scrubby-looking hair, I started to think she'd probably forgotten. She probably got busy with family, and won't come. I went to the bathroom to fix my hair and out of the corner of my eye I saw shoes coming down the driveway (it's hard to explain, but thats what I see in my bathroom mirror). And then the knock.

Of course, because I'm a goof I asked if she was Gillian. But who else shows up on your doorstep, on time, with photo albums? She'd brought her husband along and two big photo albums of pictures. We sat down and talked a little bit, told our stories. She offered me the number of a local newborn grief support group. And then after an hour she asked what I'd been dying to hear, "Would you like to see pictures of Jeremy?" I jumped up and handed her our photo album and clutched her big photo album in my arms. I sat down and opened the book.

And I saw what I was dying to see.

Jeremy and Joshua looked like brothers. Jeremy's cele was a bit higher, but it was the same size. He had dark hair and darker skin - but he was the carbon copy of Joshua. Their "fresh outta the womb" shots could have been switched around! Their skulls had grown very similar, their noses swept back toward their skulls, their eyes were pulled tight to make them sort of slitty. And he was gorgeous. Not at all one of those - "Ew" moments - it was a relief.

Joshua wasn't the only one who looked like this.

I'd never seen pictures of a child alive with a defect like Joshua. I had seen the picture last week of Elijah, but it only showed part of his face, and I couldn't be sure if they looked alike. But Jeremy, he made me so happy. Unfortunately Gillian, her husband, and their two children only held Jeremy for 2 days before he went to be with Jesus, but he's left an imprint on their lives. He's still a part of their family 3 1/2 years later.

The 2 and a half hour visit made me realize it was comforting to talk to her and her husband - that they understood some things that only a handful of us understand. They know about holding a baby who's not there anymore, and about what our babies looked like when they were gone from us. They know about the pride of having a child, but having to still leave them in a tiny casket.

I am so thankful that I was able to meet them. So thankful that I saw pictures of their little man Jeremy.

*Miss you 'Shua.*

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  1. Susie,

    I am so happy for you to have met Jeremy's parents. What a blessing to speak face to face with people who truly know. I hope it filled your heart to overflowing. How sweet that they looked alike too. You know, I have felt in my heart everytime I see a Trisomy 18 baby, that they all look alike and precious too. Little, precious and a bit weary in expression. Another sign of proof that they all come from and belong to the Lord. A signature beauty of His ownership. I love your post and continue to pray for you guys. Have a wonderful weekend.

    Love, Laurie in Ca.

  2. Oh Susie, I'm so glad that you were able to meet this lady & share some time with her. What a neat blessing!

  3. Beloved girl, I love your heart. Mine still twists for you at certain times... this being one of them. But I smile at your joy. I'm so glad you had this precious time. I hope one day I can sit on your couch and ohh and ahh over your photos of your darling boy.

  4. What a wonderful experience! As much as so many of us can empathize with what we read on your blog, nothing compares to being able to share such a deep experience with someone who has also lived it.

  5. I am going to guess that it did Gillian's heart a lot of good to see Joshua, to talk to you, and to feel connected in grief.

    You have made a friend for life, Susie. I know that took courage! I am so glad you were able to talk to another mom one who is familiar with the heartbreak of losing a son.

    I miss you to "Shua." Your mama and I should be comparing chubby baby rolls between you and Eliza right now....


  6. I got a copy of the magazine last week. It is amazing. Beautiful pictures of the family I will cherish always. Loved the Jeremy story...especially that he is still part of their lives after 3 years. We visited our church family at Camp Hebron last week and I shared the article with them...lots of tears. One friend, Beth, shared how sorry she was about our grandson with tears in her eyes...she said she knew the pain...she lost a baby girl after one day, and it's still a part of her after 24 years. Said to tell you that she is shedding tears for you. So many families that watched Matt grew up at camp are grieving and praying for you.

  7. wow...what a great story. i'm so glad that the word is getting out about your story...not just for medical reasons but for reasons that only you can God brought you through it and still is bringing you through it.

  8. I think Elijah looked a lot like Joshua. I even posted it in a comment on Elijah's mom's blog, but she must not have approved it.

  9. God is so personal and good in the small things. I'm so glad you were blessed this way.

  10. So glad that you got to meet Jeremy's family. It's nice knowing that there are people out there that can relate to your situation, that they know what it's like to be where you are/were. Joshua was such a cute little man. We miss him too!


  11. Wow!

    You guys were in a magazine! :) Cool!

    But, I'm sorry, the title, "My Baby's Brain Was Outside His Head" is a little.... I don't know... I feel like they took what you said and made it into a dramatic, horrifying, awful title. Why couldn't they have said, "A Family's Life Changing Story"? What's wrong with that.

    I'm not saying its your fault, but there could of been a nicer title.