Time is a great healer. When you are going through a terrible time, it is hard to believe that you will ever feel whole again. New grief (whether it is loss / divorce / any pain) is so raw, so overwhelming painful. It feels as if it will never end. But it does get better. You never forget, but you learn to live with the scars. You actually wear the scars with pride because you know they give you character, wisdom and empathy.
I haven't cried about Ben for a long time, for years actually. I can talk about my experience or about him with relative ease. But today I cried. I was caught unawares by my grief. I was reminded that although time does heal, you never forget.
I was at my dermatologist today and during conversation she mentioned that her husband was a paediatrician, a neonatal specialist - specialising in prem babies. She spoke a bit about the NICU her husband was working in. I started telling her that I think NICU staff (nurses and doctors) are so important. Such heros. They do such important work, they can make such a huge difference not only to their patients (the little prem babies) but especially to the parents of the prem babies. It is such a difficult, terrifying time for the parents. And their job doesn't always have happy endings. Some times the endings are sad, it is important to be able to deal with that - for the parents and for the NICU staff. And then I touched on my and Ben's story. And suddenly the memories of that awful, awful, horrific time we went through came rushing back as if it was yesterday. That horrible day when he died. How dreadfully sad it was. The depth of the pain and grief. How wonderfully amazing the staff were. In particular a young nurse called Samantha. Samantha was the NICU nurse who was with me when Ben died. She told me to sit down in the rocking chair. She picked Ben up from the NICU bed and took all the pipes and tubes and plasters off him. She cleaned and dressed him and gave him to me to hold for the first and last time ever. She quietly stayed nearby while he died in my arms. I don't even know how long it took for him to die. About 30 minutes I think. It felt like seconds, it felt like days. One he had died, she gently took his body from me and I don't even know what she did after that. I was crying too much to see or think. The mortuary then fetched his body. We went to pick up his ashes a few days later. OMG. What a terrible thing we went through. No parent should ever have to do that. I am so grateful to Samantha for the support she gave Ben and Marko and I during his time in the NICU and in particular the day he died.
And then for those who don't know our story, that very same nurse Samantha was the same person who discharged Adam from another NICU in another hospital after he spent the first 12 days of his life in NICU due to prematurity of the lungs. Exactly a year before, she handed me my son so that he could die in my arms. A year later she handed me a healthy son who I could take home with me. Samantha van der Merwe, you are still my hero.
All of those memories came flooding back this morning. I cried in the dermatologist office. I was trying to cry quietly but she noticed. She got up and walked around the desk and held me while we both sobbed. It came out of no where. I am crying now as I write this. I told my dermatologist to tell her husband that he is a hero, and to thank him on behalf all parents who have children in the NICU.
Time heals. You learn to live with your scars. But you never forget.
RIP little boy. I love you xxx