Monday, September 25, 2006

There isn't a day that goes by that we don't miss Will, and there are still, nearly two years after his birth, so many triggers that bring him to mind. Just now, listening to my iPod while doing some busy work here at the office, U2's "Vertigo" came on. It's the first time I've heard the song in its entirety since Will died, and as readers of this blog know, that song is as intertwined with my thoughts about Will as anything. (I have about 8,500 songs on the iPod, so on random play, it can take months to ever hear the same song twice).

It was fortuitous timing, I suppose, as we thought a lot about Will this weekend. We attended a memorial service at the hospital on Saturday, held by the staff at the UI's NICU to remember babies who died there. They recognize babies for two years, because they have found that in the first year things may be much too raw to allow parents and other loved ones to attend. We went last September, and decided to go again this September. As Mary said, the thought of them reading Will's name without anyone there just didn't feel right. The three of us went, and it offered a great opportunity to remember Will and reconnect with some of the people who took such good care of him during his short life.

It was particularly nice to be able to introduce Edward to many of the people who cared for his brother. Last year, Edward, still in the womb, was the object of joy and fear, because the caregivers at the service were happy that we would have another child but also concerned because of our experience with Will. They counted the week's of gestation with us and expressed hope that we would make it well beyond the 24 weeks Mary carried Will. Seeing Edward's ample cheeks, wide eyes and quick smile, they were able to share in our elation.

But Will was never far from our thoughts. A couple of his nurses said they still think of the room where Will lived out his entire life as "Will's room," a testament, we hope, to his strength as much as it is to his frustrating lack of progress while he was there. He still is touching people, his life, however short, still full of meaning.

So, about that song: I thought it would be more difficult to hear, much as I thought the service would be a challenge. Both were, but I think we're getting better at handling those emotions, the pain now often more of a dull ache that slips away to reveal the many happy moments within our experience. We'll never "get over" this, but it does get easier. No one would ever wish for this kind of pain -- Saturday's service was a meeting of a club no one in their right mind would ask to join -- but I'd be foolish to say that our experience with Will hasn't made us cherish every moment with his brother all the more. As Bono summed up, "It's everything I wish I didn't know except you give me something I can feel."