Thursday, August 2, 2012


Making sure Gabriel was held as much as possible during his lifetime was a priority for me.  Accordingly, at night he slept with me, cradled in the crook of my arm or resting on my chest.  If it hadn't been for Gabriel's condition, I think I wouldn't have been the type of parent who did the whole co-sleeping thing.  As much as I might have wanted to, my own upbringing probably would have prevailed and I would be that mom that thinks that self-soothing is a necessary skill for an infant to learn and Gabriel would have slept alone in his crib from the day he came home.  But Gabriel's condition made co-sleeping a necessity for two reasons:  First, Gabriel made very few sounds, so he had to physically tell me when he was hungry, or when he was having a seizure.  Unless he was right next to me while we slept, I wouldn't know if he needed something.  Second, I knew that Gabriel might pass away in our sleep, and it was important to me that Gabriel be in my arms when he took his last breath.

In my room is a framed 8 x 10 photo of Gabriel sleeping on my chest.  Gabriel is dwarfed by my size and his little face is barely visible in the photo.  I feel a little vain having it framed in my room, but the truth is it's there because it reminds me what it felt like to hold him.  More than one year later, I am starting to forget how he felt in my arms.

Molly Bears is a nonprofit organization started by Bridget, a woman who lost her infant daughter Molly.  She makes weighted teddy bears for families who experience infant loss and her organization operates entirely on donations and volunteer efforts.  I placed an order for a Gabriel Bear in April but the waitlist is so long I knew it could be a year or more before I received my Gabriel Bear, who will weigh 5 pounds and 9 ounces, just like Gabriel.  In the meantime I've tried to fill my empty arms with Gabriel's blankets or clothes or the teddy bears from the collection we'd begun building for his teddy bear-themed nursery, but they're just not substantive enough.  And nothing, not even a Gabriel Bear, can replace Gabriel.

This morning I received a voicemail message from Bridget.  Bridget was trying to reach Kimberly, whose order form listed my phone number as her contact number.  Bridget explained that she was trying to reach Kimberly, and Bridget explained Molly Bears' mission, to provide weighted teddy bears to bring comfort to families who had experienced infant loss.  Bridget was clearly unaware that I, Andrea, had placed an order for my own bear and that I have no idea who Kimberly is.

When I called Bridget back, I learned that Kimberly placed an order for her Carter Michael Bear, named for her son Carter, back in July.  I informed Bridget that I don't know Kimberly, but that I was on the Molly Bear waitlist for my own bear.  I suggested that maybe some glitch in the system put my phone number on Kimberly's order form.

"This is your lucky day," Bridget said.  "I'm going to pull your order and start making your bear right now."  Bridget decided this was too much of a coincidence, that it was probably a sign to bump my order up.  As we continued talking about Gabriel, we learned that Gabriel and Carter were born on the same day, June 10, 2011.  "I bet those two little boys are having a big giggle over this.  It seems to me Gabriel was working with Carter to make sure his mommy got her bear too."

I want to believe that it was all more than a coincidence.  I want to think that God and Gabriel and maybe even Carter just knew that I needed that bear sooner rather than later.  The problem is, while I'm still confident that God exists, I have begun to believe that I've maxed out on wishes that He will fulfill for me.  Before Gabriel was born, I prayed for so much, including his live birth, the chance to baptize him, the chance to bring him home from the hospital - And I got it all.  I convinced myself that this was my gift for not asking God if I could keep him, for carrying this cross with as much grace as I could muster.  As I shared Gabriel's life with the world, I considered it my duty, my opportunity to show God that I was thankful and would not waste the gift that I had been given and I trusted that when Gabriel died God would continue to carry and bless me.  In the last few months I've turned my back on God, angry that He hasn't given me what I felt like I was entitled to after losing Gabriel.  I have come to believe He's done giving to me.

So, when a friend called me from the hospital yesterday asking for prayers for her unborn baby, I decided the best thing I could do for her was to NOT pray, to NOT ask God for anything on her behalf.  He's not listening to me anyway.  I've thought about her for the last two days, hoping she and her baby are okay.  But I just can't bring myself to ask.

My counselor, Garth Brooks, says that some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. It's a childish notion, really, to think that if we don't get what we want, God must not be listening.  I thought I had outgrown that juvenile belief but I've grown weary of trying to accept God's Will and I wish that He would just start granting MY will.  I scowl when I look at the magnet on my refrigerator which reads "God hears, even when it is just a whisper of the heart."  My heart has been crying out loud to Him for what feels like so long now that I feel abandoned.  Of course the true show of faith is to find God not only in what we see, to find His hand in not only what we want, but all around us.

In any case, whether it was a coincidence or an answer to my heart's whisper, my Gabriel Bear will be underway soon.

1 comment:

  1. so glad you will soon get your Gabriel Bear!