”  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Psalm 139:13-14
So much to say, so much to tell, so much to feel, so much to write about. This blog post may be long or short. It will not be about quilts. We will get back to that in time. I need to express some thoughts just this one time and then I will be done. First, let me thank each and every one who commented on my blog when we first lost Jackson. I have read each one and still go back and read them again and again. Comments are so wonderful, comforting and amazing. I have never met you, each of the comments are held in my heart and in Andy’s heart as he reads them as well! The kindness of strangers, A GOOD/NO GREAT THING. By the way I accidentally hit a button and converted the blog post announcing Jackson’s passing to a draft! Holy Cow that was dumb. Luckily I still have the comments.I plan to print them out so I can read them often.

I try to write joyfully about my amazing life, family and friends. My blog is personal and has become a source of pride and new friends. I hope this post will not be the cause of any saddness for those who choose to read it.  If you don’t want to stay and read this whole post I certainly understand and I hope you will return to be with me again. Today, it is my time to throw my thoughts on the wall thus beginning my process of grieving and healing. 

On Sunday May 6th Emily went into labor. We, Andy, myself and our youngest daughter Mary Beth (who lives downtown) got the call around 8pm I believe and packed quickly to go to Asheville. (many of you know we live in the burbs of Atlanta 3.5 hours away from Asheville.) We raced through the night to get to the hospital arriving there about 3:30 am. We joined Emily and Russ in their labor room. At 10 am we were told she was at 10cm and was ready to start pushing.It was at this time we were exiting the labor room. Emily and Russ said   Mom you are staying”.  I think that those words were the biggest honor I have ever received. I was going to be with them at the birth!  She pushed without complaint for 2 hours..she was amazing. Russ was so calm and what a great coach!  Things suddenly turned bad Jackson’s heart rate droped from 147 to 55 and then gone from the monitors. She was rushed to the operating room. I don’t think I will ever forget the look of terror on Emily and Russ’ face as they were swept away.

I was left standing alone in the hall. I found the waiting room and gathered the family to tell them what had happened. We waited for what seemed like hours in fact it was maybe 20 min. They came and told us the news..For about 15 seconds before they told us I was not sure if we had lost Jackson or Emily or both.. We were whisked into a private room. Within minutes someone came in and said ”  We need Pat”   I was  told that Emily and Russ wanted me. With the speed of light I was flying to the operating room. They were throwing a gown, mask, hat and booties on me. I remember asking God to be with me and help me find the right words for my children. Special note: I consider Russ to be my son in every way…I know he is my Son in Love, but that is just a technicality.
Jackson was dead. The entire operating room was in tears. Our nurse told us what they were going to do. At first I was dumbstruck. They were cleaning Jackson up and finishing Emily’s surgery and they were going to bring Jackson to us. They did not ask us if this is what we wanted they just said to trust them, they knew about this process and this was going to help us in the end. We were taken to surgery recovery for about an hour and then taken again to her hospital room (not on the mother baby hall). We had Jackson the whole time. hours and hours. While I don’t think I will ever stop aching from the sight of my daughter and son holding her sweet baby, gone too soon, I will say that in then end, we WERE AND ARE comforted by having had him for some time in our arms. All of us held him and spoke to him. Our nurse went and found my camera while we were in the recovery room and hospital room and took many photos. Again, I was shocked and not sure why she felt the need to do this but I knew that this was not the time to question. Again..she was right. The photos are in my possession and when ready, Emily and Russ will look at them and they will decide what to do with them. I’m glad they are there. Note to self: let the professionals do their job at all times and keep your mouth shut! 
We left Emily and Russ that night around 10pm I think. They were in the bed together holding Jackson. They said their goodbyes to their son privately. I can’t imagine their pain. I  know that Andy and I have said we would gladly give our lives to breathe life into that baby! From a personal view I have learned that losing a baby is unimaginable pain..and watching your children endure that pain is, well there simply just no words for that.
On Tuesday the process of making decision after decision on what they wanted began. As things go, so many different decisions had to be presented to them each one came with its own pain and agony.  Autopsy? Burial? Internment? Nursery? Service? Where, When, How? So much more. Heartbreak and agony at every turn. This is coupled with the physical stuff of a C-section and fever which came around on Wednesday.Emily was struggling and I will add she never complained. She was focused on Russ..and he was completely focused on her. I think she must have said about a million times to every person who entered her room. ” Thank you so much you are so kind to me.   I’m pretty sure she thanked the cleaning folks for cleaning the bathroom. She also told every health care person very quietly to take care of her because Russ didn’t need to lose both of them. Again thinking only of her Russ. Russ was so focused on her comfort and health. I offered to sleep at the hospital and let him go home and rest in his bed but he would have NONE of that! He was busy loving her through it all.  We all felt the exhaustion but no where, no time and no ability to rest for anyone. 

Emily’s childhood best friend, who just had a baby herself came to Emily’s bedside and they got in bed, hugged and cried like two little girls together. Russ’ childhood best friend came to him as well. These two brought comfort to them as only dear friends can! LOVE IN ACTION! 

Emily did not get released until late on Friday because of the fever. A memorial service was planned for Saturday (when the fever came we also made alternate plans to spring her from the hospital and return her if need be.)  It was their request to have it and have it quickly. As I was laying in bed about 3am middle of the night. I remember asking God to help me plan this EVENT because I’ve never planned anything like this and Asheville is not my town. Frankly I’m terrific at planning weddings and showers and dinner parties…so how in the world was I ever going to pull this one off? Don’t get me wrong there were plenty of family and friends there to help but as we all know there has to be a point person!  I didn’t want to burden Emily and Russ with decisions. Little did I know there was a surprise coming…angels on earth! 
On Tuesday morning when I arrived there were a whole group of men in Emily’s hospital room. Mostly coaches from Russ’ school (Russ is a High School teacher and coach, football and baseball). I sort of heard Russ talking to a man (he will be nameless..not sure if I should use it here in this public way). He is associated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Later that day I asked Russ if possibly he could help us with our little memorial. Russ and Emily’s only requests in the planning was that it be peaceful, no wearing black, and in a beautiful setting. (once again..I don’t live in Asheville, heck I don’t even know where Target is!)
Russ called his friend and he came to meet with us at 10 o’clock Wednesday and brought another one of the coaches from Russ’ school. Andy, Russ, Mary Beth were also there. We sat in the waiting room and he pulled out a notebook and laid out the complete memorial. Asked us if we would like family or friends to read from the Old and New Testament..we said yes and mentioned two close family friends. There was a moment during this first meeting when everyone was talking, throwing out ideas and I was silently swept away their mouths were moving but I did not hear a thing! I was INSTANTLY peaceful. I’m certain I was being embraced by God. My 3am prayer had been answered! I never looked back or worried about the service again. Emily’s friend and sorority sister from college (who also lives in Asheville and in the same neighborhood)  was right there to help with the planning she was an angel to us! Andy called her THE ROCK. She knew what we needed before we spoke the words! Andy and she struck off to scout a location. They took my camera (busy little camera huh?). Russ and Emily settled on the Arboretum after they saw the photos, which has a lovely amphitheater. Emily was luckily  discharged Friday evening.
On Saturday the weather was cool and a bit breezy, slightly overcast a bit grey we all hoped there would be no rain. Ok, get ready for this next part…. When Mr. FCA was delivering his sermon he was speaking about HOPE. During this time the grey sky changed rapidly to bright sunshine, the breeze stopped and we were quickly warmed. A few minutes later our slightly overcast sky and cool breeze returned. Take this for what you choose…I know that every person in the amphitheater was moved and they are still talking about it! You can ask them!
Friends and angels on earth. Emily and Russ have only lived in Asheville for 3 years. They just built their first home and are so happy to be living in such a beautiful city and they both love their jobs (Emily Pharmaceutical Sales, Russ Education). When my thoughts turn to them I picture them in their precious house enjoying each other, watching movies and landscaping, enjoying their new city. I often wonder if they have made many friends. THERE WERE OVER 200 PEOPLE at Jackson’s Memorial. We were overwhelmed with the love, kindness and generosity of their friends,and our friends, makes me weep with joy and thankfulness. Our family’s were all there, our quilting friends, and book club were all there (from Atlanta!) and those that could not come have emailed, sent cards, flowers and donations to the March of Dimes and so much more. Our hearts are so full of gratitude and joy for the love and support of so many. How blessed we are. 
Andy and Mary Beth came back home on Sunday. Mary Beth had to go back to work and Andy needed to get some work done and touch base with Sophie our aging dog. We decided that I would come home Wednesday. I had some concerns, Mary Beth went back to her job and roomates, I was with Russ and Emily, Andy was left alone and grieving so I needed to come home.  I left yesterday to the saddest drive I have ever made. The drive was worsened by a phone call from Andy
saying Sophie was in bad shape possibly had a stroke and we would probably have to put her to sleep, which we did.  She was our loyal companion for 14 years. I could not make it home in time to be the last person she saw as she past away, I was at least 2.5 hours from home. 

So where are we now? We live in between horrible and hope. The autopsy report showed that Jackson was perfect in every way. Russ and Emily walked into the hospital with a full term (37 weeks 2 days) a perfectly healthy baby. Through an accident of birth which caused the cord to separate too soon from the placenta we lost Jackson. This is the horrible part.  The hopeful part is that there is NO NO NO reason why Emily and Russ will not be able to have children in the future. The time frame for this is up to the doctors and God. We wait in hope with our arms open.

Me personally. I don’t know where I am right now. These past days have been focused on this amazing young couple who so early in their marriage (3years) have experienced unspeakable loss. I know that I have yet to come to grips with all this and have grieving and reflection ahead. I know that as we said during this week and a half, we can be Bitter or Better. I choose Better. I am changed forever for the better…that path is where I go now. My comfort is that I walk this path with my amazing life companion the love of my life my Andy, our children and family. I walk my path with with more love and friendships than I can possibly list here. As was sung at the memorial…  It is Well With My Soul”.

I thank you are staying to read this blog post. It took me 2,500 hours to get this done LOT O TEARS IN THE WRITING! We will return to quilts very soon. Tomorrow I go to Thimbles club I can’t wait to see everyone and hug their necks which is what we do a lot of here! They bring a special magic and joy to everything. There are some photos which I may gather with one more post..we will see. I want to hit publish for now and get this special blog post off to read. Would love to hear from you!again and again and again..love to all!