Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just the Way He Was

A few days ago while we were out, I played a song on the jukebox that made Ben look at me and ask, "Really?"  It wasn't the kind of song that I would normally play, but while I was pregnant with Gabriel the lyrics in the chorus started to stand out to me.  Among the many songs I sang to Gabriel the morning that he died was the chorus to this song, Bruno Mars' "Just the Way You Are."  Though I'm not normally one to adjust nouns and pronouns in a chorus to suit the situation, I did change this one up for my perfect little boy.  The following are the lyrics I sang to Gabriel early Monday morning, June 20, 2011:

"When I see your face
There's not a thing that I would change,
'Cause you're amazing just the way you are.
And when you smile
The whole world stops and stares for a while,
'Cause Gabe you're amazing just the way you are."

For ten days my world did seem to stop when Gabriel smiled. For ten days at 3:19 PM, Pacific Time, hundreds of people stopped to celebrate another day of Gabriel's too-short life. For ten days we stopped and stared at this little creature who changed so many lives.

Many Christians believe that when Christ comes again, our souls will reunite with our bodies in their perfect form.  I think of Gabriel's form while he was on earth, how beautiful he was. I remember his lips smacking together in rhythm and his eyes, which were not as bulbous as some of the pictures I'd seen but were still the characteristic bulgy eyes of a baby with anencephaly. He didn't open them often but when he did, we could see that they were lighter than both of ours and would be even without the film that sometimes disguises the real color of a newborn's eyes. They were blue, blue enough to stay that way for a while. He had a chin that was unusually defined for a newborn, and the notorious Cude nose, which was smooshed at birth but started to protrude while he was alive. His skin went from the bluish-purple that many anencephaly babies experience to a healthier tone somewhere between mine and Ben's, with a jaundice yellow tinge that we laid him in difused sunlight to treat. The skin around his right eye suffered some bruising during his delivery that never did go away. His limbs were long and slender, and he had long, graceful, perfect fingers and big floppy feet with long, finger-like toes. I was prepared for his open skull, but much less prepared for the shock of long blond hair that he was born with. I still wonder if all of our children will be born with blond hair or if Gabriel will be our lone blond.

Even his exposed brain came to be beautiful to me. He appeared to have suffered no brain-damage in utero (though some developmental failure of his brain seemed to occur) and I was able to see what a human brain looks like and marvel at God's masterpiece. There was a maturity in his face, a sense that he had some wisdom beyond his time on earth. When he stared at what appeared to be nothing, I wondered if he could somehow see God. There was something almost alien to his appearance with his little brain growing outside of his skull, but after a few days even the alien came to appear natural to me. He looked at once like strength and vulnerability. He was quite the conundrum; how could someone look so perfect to me, yet not be perfectly okay?

I sometimes wonder if perfect form for Gabriel means with a skull cap, but often I hope that when I see Gabriel again he looks just like he did in his ten days on earth.  He was amazing, just the way he was.

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