Thursday, November 6, 2008

regrets

This morning I am feeling a lot of regret. Regret for things I wish I would have done...regret for things we couldn't do.

With the cooler weather I keep thinking "Gavin would love this!" he loved going on walks, but it was so hard to take him out often during the summer while it was so hot. And we couldn't escape in the evening a lot of times either because we were too busy trying to hook up his feeding tubes. Or we were in the hospital and stuck inside. One of the last things Andre and I got to do with him together at home was taking him on a long walk around our neighborhood one evening after dinner. We went all the way up to the golf course and walked all the way around that, too. Andre had him up on his shoulders so he could see everything. He never made a sound...just looked and looked and looked. And a couple days before I left UCLA that fateful weekend, I took Gavin out for a long walk all the way around the hospital grounds in his little red wagon. Our last stop was the water fountain pools where I laid him on the bricks so he could dip his hands in the water and splash around. He loved it!!! We stayed out there for a really long time. I wish we could have gone on walks every single day...and I wish we could still take him on walks now...

I wish I would have taken more snapshots of him with the kids. We have hardly any pictures of *just* the kids together during those last few months. Granted, we were in and out of the hospital so much...but still. I remember so many times when we *were* home and they would be playing with him or holding him on the couch and I would think "I should take a picture!" but then I'd change my mind because I was "too busy" or "their hair was messed up" or "Gavin wasn't dressed in something cute" and I would think "I'll take one later when they are dressed up more."


A really painful regret is that I didn't let the kids hold Gavin more often. They asked all the time, and so many times I said "not right now, maybe later, next time..." because it was such a "hassle" to get them all set up on the couch, and make sure they held him right, and if they were feeding him that they held the bottle right, and it took so much longer when they did it. I feel like I robbed them of precious moments together with their baby brother close to their hearts. I wish I had made the time, made the effort, stopped for a few moments and just let them love each other...

I also wish I had more snapshots of him and I together. Most of our pictures are of him and Andre, because I was the one who watched for "kodak moments" and I was the one who took most of the pictures. Thats what stinks about being the "family photographer"...you capture all the moments of everyone else, and no one thinks about taking any pictures of you.

I wish I would have taken a "nice" picture of the kids all together. The last time I tried, Gavin was 5 months old and he cried through most of them. And during his last "photoshoot" the kids weren't there. I really wish I had been able to dress them all in white and take a picture of them together like that. I love the way those pictures look. I have one of Joenick and Evienne before Gavin was born, and it is so sweet. I look at it now and it just makes me regret...

I wish Gavin could have gone to church more. I wish he could have heard the singing, heard the prayers, felt the Spirit. I wish our family could have sat in a row and cuddled and loved our little man and passed him around and entertained him during sacrament meeting. I wish I could have had an excuse to dress him up every week and have 3 long hours of cuddle time with him. I wish I could have held him like that every week, and had him fall asleep in my arms during Sunday School. I wish I could have shown him off like that...instead the only place anyone in the ward ever saw him was in the hospital when they voluntered to sit with him in the afternoons so I could go be with the kids.

I wish he could have played with his cousins more often. Most of the time we had to keep him at home so he wouldn't get sick. He and Ayla were just getting old enough to start playing together. Their version of "playing" was Ayla climbing all over Gavin, and he loved it! :) I wish he could keep playing with his cousins and grow up with them. I wish his cousins didn't have to grow up thinking of him as an angel and wondering what he was like.

I wish we could have taken him more places and done more things with him. I wish we could have gone to the park more. He was just getting old enough to really enjoy it, and it was cooling off just enough to be able to take him in the evenings. During his last "photoshoot" with me we put him in a swing for the FIRST time ever and he loved it! He smiled so big...thats one of my favorite pictures of him, and the one my cousin framed for us for the funeral. How I wish we would have gone back again the next evening, instead of doing whatever else we did that night. How I wish we would have gone back every night...how I wish I could take him there today, right now with this cool breeze, all bundled up in a jacket, jeans and chunky little boy shoes! How I wish I could watch his little nose and cheeks grow pink with cold and excitement! How I wish he could learn to go down the slide!

I wish I hadn't been so tired and "busy" during my days with him. Mornings were always so hard, trying to get the kids ready for school while Gavin was still hooked up to his feeding tubes. He almost always ended up crying, wanting more attention and I had to just let him cry while I finished up with the kids. By the time I had them off to school, and then him unhooked from all his stuff, and his clothes changed, and his sheets changed, and his diaper changed, and breakfast fed...I was so stressed out all I wanted to do was put him down for his morning nap!

I wish I would have had a rocking chair so I could have held him longer at night. One time when he was younger, and we could still bring him to church, I took him into the Mother's Lounge to feed him and the rocker chairs in there were SO comfortable! I loved it, we stayed in there extra long just rocking. That last month I felt such a need to do that...to be able to sit and rock with him for a very long time. To just hold him into the dark hours of the night in a big, comfy chair, rocking him back and forth and gaze at his sweet litte face. I always loved doing that at the hospital, they always had rocking chairs out in the hall and first thing I'd do after we were admitted admitted, was to find one and drag it into his room. I loved just sitting and rocking him and holding him close. I searched craigslist for weeks that last month home trying to find the "right one" and one night I felt like I *HAD* to go buy one I had found, but I didnt because everyone was so busy, and it was late. How I wish I had listened to my instincts and gotten the chair anyway, even though I knew it would have been annoying to have to go out and get it that night. It was the last week we were home...and I never got to hold my baby and just rock him for hours...

I wish we could have shown him more of the things in this life...I hate Arizona, its too hot to do anything 75% of the year. I wish he were here now, now thats it cooler, now that I could take him to the zoo all day long and just walk around with him while he looked and looked and looked. The only time he went he was too little to really see anything. He would have loved the zoo. I wish we could have taken him to the Tempe water park and he could have crawled around in the little water river and played in the fountain. He LOVED playing in water...he would have loved it so much. I WISH SO MUCH he could have gone swimming. I would have taken him every day this summer if he hadn't had that stupid central line in. His favorite thing was taking baths...he would have loved swimming. I even bought him the cutest little swimsuit shorts and matching rashguard shirt right before summer, right before they put the central line in. I was SO excited to take him swimming! But now it still sits in his closet...tags still on, never used. I wish we would have had days and years to explore the kids museums and the parks and the playgrounds while the kids were in school during the day. I wish I could have brought him to the school during their lunch hour so we could all eat together and he could wish he could be in school like his big brother and sister!

I really, really, really wish I could have thrown him a birthday party. Even just one...I already had it all planned out, even if it was going to be at the hospital. It was going to be Baby Einstein themed (he LOVED those little movies!) and his cake was going to be the little caterpillar that crawls out in the beginning (he LOVED that caterpillar!). I was so excited to see his face when he saw it...his favorite thing ever right in front of him, all his to devour!!! We would have had balloons, lots of balloons and streamers and a big banner that said "Happy 1st Birthday, Gavin!" and I was going to hang it across his door. We were even going to give out real invitations to all his doctors and the nurses, and have cupcakes for everyone and a bowl of candy to set by the door, little buttermints in shiny red, blue and yellow "1st birthday" wrappers. And we were going to have sheets of red stickers that said "Thanks for coming to my party!" to give out to everyone. We were going to buy him his own wagon for at home, and a little upholstered chair that was all his own. I was going to have the kids fly out, too, and we would have celebrated all day long! They would have had so much fun picking out presents for their baby brother. They loved him so much...it would have made them feel so special to wrap up their gifts and then watch him tear off the paper. I can see their faces in my mind...I can play out the whole day, see exactly how it would have gone, feel how happy we would have been! How I wish it were real. The day before he died everyone was so hopeful and his doctor said it would be a great goal to have him fully awake and up and off the respirator by then. I excitedly told Gavin that he had to wake up soon so he could have birthday cake and we could sing Happy Birthday to him, and open up all his fun presents! Its just so cruel that he missed it all by only 14 days...


I was going to get his hair cut for the first time on his birthday, too, even if I had to call around and find someone who would be willing to come to the hospital and do it. He would have looked so grown up with his new "big boy" haircut! Of course he would have gotten a lollipop, his first one! And he would have been a sticky mess, with little hairs everywhere. Those little curls would have been neatly clipped, tied and tucked into his baby book, one more milestone to record and one more event to capture with pictures! Instead...I had to quietly and sadly cut one small curl off the back of his neck as I dressed him for his casket. It will be the last thing to go in his baby book. The last milestone, the last entry, the last pictures to take...pictures that no one would ever want to see. The rest of his little teeth will never grow in. He will never weigh more than 16 lbs. He will never take his first step or say his first word. His cute little baby book that I so lovingly picked out, that I was so excited to fill up with treasures and memories, will always be unfinished...blank lines and emtpy pages, milestones never reached...

I wish we could have spent Halloween trick-or-treating, instead of trying to hide our grief from the world. I was going to dress Gavin up as a little vampire, it would have been his first little suit...but then again, I saw the cutest Curious George costume in the store, so maybe I would have changed my mind! We were just starting to get into Curious George, I think he would have liked it. And we would have just walked and walked around the neighborhood while he looked and looked and looked at everyone. He would have been so mystified at all the colors and costumes, and he would have loved it! We would have taken the cutest picture of him and all his little cousins dressed up together...and I can just see them looking at each other like "what are you *wearing*?!" and trying to pull off each others headbands and wings and tails. Or the other scenario, the realistic one, as we would have still been in the hospital...I still would have dressed him up and they would have had trick-or-treating in the hallways, and the nurses would have given out candy, and they might have even had a little party for the kids in the playroom. The nurses would have LOVED his costume, no matter what he was. They loved our little guy so much...he would have been so cute! We would have pulled him around in his wagon all night and he would have loved it.


I wish we would be spending Thanksgiving together and being SO THANKFUL because he got his miracle and was getting better. Even if we were in the hospital, it would have been nice. I'm sure they will be serving crappy Thanksgiving food in the hospital cafeteria, haha, :P and Gavin would have loved eating the mashed potatoes and the sweet potatoes and the bread. But his favorite part would have been the pumpkin pie!!! They had already started serving pumpkin pie in the cafeteria that month we were there. The very last thing Gavin and I did together, before I left that weekend and he got put in the ICU, was sharing a piece of pumpkin pie together. We sat on the couch in his hospital room and ate pie and looked out his window at all the cars driving by in the streets below. He loved that pie, it was the first time he had had it! If I wasn't fast enough he would reach out and grab the fork to bring it to his mouth faster! If he were still here I'd bring him a whole piece of pumpkin pie just for himself. Instead, Andre will be working on Thanksgiving and I will be feeling everything BUT thankful. :(

I wish I could be planning what to buy him for Christmas this year. I would be getting him those waffle/pokey, lego block things that stick together. They had a little table of them at the hospital here in AZ in the playroom and during his last stay there he LOVED playing with them! I would make little towers all over the board for him, and he would pull off the pieces one by one and throw them on the floor. Or he would pick one up and bang it on the board and stop to listen to the sound it made...over and over. He was just discovering *sounds* and everytime he got something new in his hands he wanted to bang it or drop it or shake it to hear what kind of sound it made. On our last drive to the hospital from the airport together, I sat in the back of the taxi with him and he was fussing so I gave him a mini tylenol bottle I had in my purse. He shook that thing the ENTIRE way there! He loved it! Maybe I could have found him some cute wooden maracas for Christmas, too, they would have been so cute in his stocking. He definitely would have gotten some new cute socks...and probably his first pair of "big boy" shoes. And definitely some new baby Einstein dvds!!! :) I would have bought him some new board books and probably some bath toys as he was getting old enough to sit up in the big bathtub. I would have put some yummy teething cookies in his stocking, maybe a "big boy" spoon and fork. I would have made him a new blanket...I had been wanting to make him one that was soft and fuzzy on one side, and cool and silky on the other. And I would have bought him a whole stack of precious, feet-y pajamas. He would have been so darn cute wearing them for the first time, trying to figure out what was on his feet and how funny it was to crawl around in them. Danggit...I want to see my baby in feet-y pajamas. :(

He would have loved going on walks through the neighborhood in the evening and seeing all the Christmas lights...oh he would have LOVED IT! I can just see his face in my mind...and we would have gone to the Temple to see the Christmas lights there multiple times I'm sure. He would have had so much fun there. And he would have LOVED the Christmas tree! He would have driven me crazy trying to grab all the ornaments off it. How I wish he could drive me crazy and that I could be stressed out all month long that he might pull the Christmas Tree over! We would have dressed up as the Nativity Scene again this year, and it would have taken FOREVER to get a picture because Gavin would be trying to crawl all over the place...actually, now that I think of it, he would be 14 months old, so I'm sure he would have been walking. Ya, there would have been NO way to get him to sit still! :) I wish I had made the kids' felt stockings last year like I was planning to...they were each going to have a different picture on the front, and their names stitched across the top. I think I was going to put a reindeer on Gavin's stocking, or maybe it was a snowman. Now even if I do find the time or willpower to make them, one will never get used...always empty.

I wish I could have seen him take his first step, and make it all the way across the floor. I wish I could have watched the kids being so careful and helpful with him, holding his hands and calling out to him so he would walk to them. They would have been so excited! I wish I could watch him teeter towards me and then grab him up at the last second in a big bear hug and cheer "YAY!!!!" and he would smile and laugh and be so proud of himself...just like he did when he learned to wave.

I wish he had learned to give kisses. I wish he had learned to say "mama" and "dada". I wish he had learned to say "luv yoo". I wish he could learn to ride a trike. I wish we could pick out his backpack for his first day of preschool. I wish I could cry because my baby was going to Kindergarten.

I wish he could grow up and have best friends and scraped knees and be sad the day Gretel finally got too old and died. I wish he could go to high school and learn to drive and get a part-time job. The class of 2025 will never know that there should have been a Gavin Sprague growing up with them all this time...the kid who would have been their best friend, the kid who could have been on their soccer team, the kid who might have been valedictorian- who knows. The cute boy in history class a girl would have had a crush on, the boy who could have asked her to her first school dance, the boy who might have been her first boyfriend, the boy she might have waited for and married. None of them will even know he existed, that someone is missing when they call out names on graduation night.

I wish we could send him on a mission. I wish I could worry about him day and night and wait anxiously for letters. I wish we could go through the Temple with him and see him make those oh so important covenants. I wish he could get married and have children. I wish he could have a whole line of great-grandkids and great-great-grandkids who would hear stories about their "Grandpa Gavin".

All these things, each one is another stab of pain, another stab of grief...its not just losing a child, its losing experiences and memories and pictures and smiles and laughs and hugs and kisses and a whole future. Days and hours and seconds...a whole lifetime. A whole legacy. I will continue to have losses my entire life, as each empty milestone approaches and passes, and my child isn't here to experience them. My grieving will never be complete because there will always be fresh losses around each corner...little stabs of pain, regret, longing, wishing...wanting.

16 comments:

Bumm crew said...

We only knew you through your blog. Your family and your Gavin touched our lives so much.We cried when he went to Heaven.We can't imagine how you are feeling. We pray for your comfort.As I'm reading this tears are streaming down my face. Not only because of the pain that you are going through but because it's a wake-up call. I'm missing out on precious memories by being "too busy". We never know when our time will be gone with our precious angels. This is a huge eye-opener that we need to take those few minutes,let the dishes sit, let the house be a little messy,miss our show on TV and just have fun. Take more pictures,read more books and just get down and play with our kids.Thank you for reminding us how important it is to set aside the things we think "need" to be done and do the things that are so much more crutial,the things that creat memories.

Bret and Julie Burnham said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I miss Gavin so much and I can't even imagine what you are going through. I love you. You are such a great example to me and each day I try to be a better mom because of what you teach me. You are truly amazing and I love you. I wish I knew the words to say to share what I feel but I don't.

Becky said...

Bethany- thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings!! I appreciated reading them and knowing what you are going through and feeling...at least somewhat!! :( I'm sorry for what you are having to go through. But I appreciate your insight...and reminding us about all the 'little' things that we take forgranted. I don't want to take those things forgranted ever again!!! As I sit here reading this with a lump in my throat and tears streaming....the part about Gavin's lock of hair did that. I'm sorry you'll never get to see those milestones. BUT just remember all of the wonderful things you did while Gavin was here with you....the garage sale & auction...those were amazing!! Amazing. I'm still in awe. I don't know how you pulled it all off. And those times in the hospital- not too many other distractions...just you and him. Those will be special times you'll never forget...even as bad as it was to be confined to a hospital. You had Gavin all to yourself. I love you and know that I am always here for you.

Leeann said...

Wow. That's all I could think as I read this. Wow. You have an amazing gift to write your feelings down, in a way that makes the reader FEEL your pain.
You remind me, the Mom of 4 beautiful, healthy children, that I need to slow down and enjoy my day, instead of constantly worrying about what I need to do next.
I need to love the paintings they do, instead of focusing on the mess it made.
I need to really love and appreciate cuddle time, instead of thinking about all the other stupid things that need to be done.
I need to take the time...instead of always putting things off for "later".
Thanks you so much, for the reminder.
Leeann Garrard
Grantsville, UT

Leeann said...

P.S. I think ALL parents need this reminder...if you don't mind, I'd love to do a post on my blog, linking this post.

{ Bethany } said...

Leeann, that would be lovely. Part of the reason I made this blog was because I hoped it would help others, too. I read something sometime this month about how when these things happen it makes mothers hold their children just a little bit longer, and families to spend just a little bit more time together, and everyone tends to reflect more on what is really important.

Janell said...

This was so beautiful Bethany. Haunting. I am so extremely sorry for the pain you are going through and all of the things you did not get to do with Gavin. We ALL have lots of the moments you describe--not taking full advantage of every moment with our kids. But I know you did SO much with Gavin and were the best mom he could have possibly had, despite any regrets you're feeling now. Thank you for the reminder to slow down and enjoy my kids. You really do have such a way with words. You made me appreciate my kids more today. Thank you for that.

TheMoncurs said...

I had all those same thoughts about Gavin and high school and a mission and marriage. I really had imagined him and Wes learning to drive and going to senior prom and all those wonderful things that make such great memories when you're older.

I think, due to his illness, you spent more time with Gavin than most people spend with their babies in the first year of life. You have nothing to regret. You were with him so much of the time and you did the best you could with the time you had. You were an amazing mother to him and he was lucky to have someone who was so devoted to him, even when the going got tough.

(PS I have to read this blog late at night when no one is around because it makes me bawl!)

Leeann said...

Thank you Bethany. I posted a link tonight. I hope it meets your approval.

Crysm said...

I am so very sorry for every moment you are without your son.

But I am thankful for a Heavenly Father who understands and gave us the gift of Eternal Families.

My Deepest Sympathies.

Mamarazzi said...

oh the heartbeat behind this post. thank you for sharing this. i came over from Leeann's blog. and wow, i don't even know what to say. i can barely see with the tears running down my face.

may Heavenly Father watch over and bless your family...and may you find a little bit of comfort in knowing that you are an eternal family.

suebug said...

Andre and Bethany, thank you so very much for sharing Little Gavin with us through his spectacular life, and for sharing your pain with us now. My heart and soul reach out to you Bethany AND Dre. As a mother I literally felt myself almost hyperventalate at your words. Such pain, such grief, but also SUCH a GREAT amount of love. You were the BEST parents little Gavin could possible of had, his siblings were the BEST he could possible have had, and even though those empty milestones are coming, YOU and YOUR family and those of us who shared in this with you, WILL remember his name, WILL remember those milestones and will keep a sweet little boy Gavin always in our hearts and memories. We love you...

Andrea said...

what a heart-wrenching post. i'm here from leeann's blog, and could feel your pain seeping through my computer screen. nobody should have to bury a child. NOBODY. i am so sorry for your devastating loss.

i hope you continue to journal yoru thoughts and feelings as these milestones come and go. i can imagine it could be very therapeutic.

Sven said...

Bethany, I think this is the saddest post I ever read. I caught a glimpse of your pain, and I truely don't know how it is possible to experience such a terrible loss.

Your post brought me to get even closer to your little Gavin - I could imagine him doing all these things.

Melody B. said...

There just aren't words...I'm sorry and wish those things for you too. The millenium? Too far away to think of and appreciate now I guess. I love you.

Kunz Family said...

ya know Bethany, your feelings are normal. There will never have been enough pictures, never enough video, never enough time holding, never enough time just sitting and staring. Never, no matter if we were given 'enough' it never would have been enough.