MLH and I haven’t done anything big for New Year’s Eve (NYE) since 2003. We spent last NYE with Noah in the CICU. So, for me this weekend is just like any normal weekend; well as normal as we’ve been able to get since Noah died. I know our lives will never return to our old normal but I’m not sure if we’ve found our new normal yet.
You may have heard about Ben Breedlove by now. Sadly I just learned about him when he passed away. His Youtube videos have been circulating quite a bit within the congenital heart defect (CHD) community. His description of the vision/dream he experienced when his heart and breathing stopped for three minutes comforted me some. What Ben describes in his Part 2 video sounds beautiful. I hope Noah felt something similar as he passed way. But it was the eulogy Ben’s sister, Ally, gave that really helped me yesterday and today. She tells everyone Ben wasn’t sure he’s glad he came back. Where he went during the last time he cheated death seemed so peaceful. I now wonder if Noah is glad he’s in heaven and not down here with me and MLH.
Yesterday I started swimming for the first time since October. In the pool I felt the tenderness of my injured ankle. I also began to feel a stronger sense of awareness with my body and thoughts. I had not experienced this since training for Nation’s. I remembered the first time I pushed myself during a pool workout causing my heart rate to increase drastically and my breathing to become labored. It was early May. At that time I realized my high heart rate and need for oxygen connected me to Noah on a deeply meaningful level. Heterotaxy Syndrome always impacts the heart, (which is why I’m now somewhat connected to the CHD community). Noah’s heart had to work really hard while he was alive. Just drinking a small amount of milk out of a bottle shot his heart rate up to the same level one hits after climbing a set of stairs. He was so tired after such a short feeding.
I admit swimming is not my favorite discipline. However, as I thought about Ben and reconnected with Noah in the pool I realized I actually like swimming once I’m in the water. It’s everything leading up to getting in the pool that bothers me: worrying about the number of people who will be in the pool with me, sharing a lane with someone who swims all over the place, (especially given my current injury) and the jolt I feel from initially hitting the cold water.
Thank you, Ben Breedlove, for the comfort you’ve given me. I hope you meet my son up there. Thank you, Ally, for sharing the conversation you had with Ben. May you and your family begin to heal. And as always, thank you, beautiful Noah, for helping me once again with my training.