You learn a lot about yourself riding in an ambulance. The morning Jonah was born we had to check in at the Salem Hospital here in town before we could get transported up to Portland, and it was an experience in itself. The staff here in town was pretty intimidated in the beginning when they found out about the type of birth we were looking at until they read our birth plan. Calls were made, certain doctors were bypassed, and we were on our way in a red medical bed wagon.
I remember four specific things about our ride. First, it felt much short shorter than I expected it to and we even took a route I thought unusual. Must have been the lack of traffic at 4am, I suppose. Second, the only thing that mattered was that the contractions were slowing down a bit. They had gotten pretty intense at the hospital (though nothing like they would turn into over the next several hours) and we were both concerned about how it would go while Cassy was laying down. Thankfully, Jonah decided he could wait a little longer. Third, the young man – my first inclination is to call him the ‘kid’ – was so steady. Maybe his shift had just started or maybe he’d seen enough in his career to take this as an easy ride, but it was so helpful to not feel any panic from him during the ride. He was comfortable and personable, made jokes and kept it lighthearted… you’d never know the horrors he’s likely experienced, nor the compassion he has to feel for people because of it. From experience with others in my life with similar life circumstances, those type of nightmares often accompany a new life perspective and he obviously had it. I couldn’t be more thankful for the people in my life who have been through this kind of pain and still have that softness. Incredible.
Lastly, though, I remember the ridiculous amount of heat that was blowing on my from the air vents. I’m a perpetually warm person and was wearing a sweatshirt – during a stressful morning – and I was sweating bullets. The vent was blowing DIRECTLY on my face but I would never have gotten up to shift it – the only thing on my mind was keeping hold of my wife’s hand. Nothing mattered in that moment but maintaining that connection.
Through all of the aftermath of Jonah’s short time with us, the lessons I hold the most are two fold; each day has its own gifts to give, and the heat only burns for so long. Everything in this life is temporary. Pay attention to the leaves blowing outside your window. Watch that couple holding hands at the grocery store. Truly listen to the sound of a person’s voice and take it in. The pain we experience on this day will only last so long, and will give way to all of the things that make up what we live for. That is Jonah’s legacy in my life – put your focus where it can do the most good, and don’t take this day for granted.
Every night I close my eyes reflecting on my day and every morning I wake up thankful to be making it through the Jonah Experience the way I have. Every day is a battle, but because of his life I can live mine a little more purposefully. I miss him terribly, but had we not lived each day with him I would have missed it all.
I love you, son. Go find these babies and keep them close