Friday, February 17, 2012

Michael Edward Purdy

You don't know him. He won't be famous. He won't ever be anything but the memory I carry with me and the fantasies I have in which I see the what could haves and the what ifs. Who is Michael? Michael is the greatest joy I have ever known and also the greatest sadness I have ever known. Michael is...was my son.
Michael Edward Purdy

When I was 17 years of age, my then girlfriend and I endured a rather terrible string of incidents in regards to pregnancy. Up to this point, things had been a little careless but we had sat down and discussed things and took the proper precautions necessary to prevent a pregnancy. The sad irony about the rest of this story is that for two years leading up to then I am certain that any other couple would have had at least one, maybe two pregnancies. To say we were careless would be an understatement. Regardless.

One evening while I was working I received a phone call from my brother. He was at the hospital with my girlfriend. She had been suddenly stricken with a nauseating sickness. I left work and went straight to the hospital as any good boyfriend would. When I got there, she was waiting in the emergency room, sitting hunched over. Her cheeks puffed, red and tear stained. It turns out she wasn't sick; well so to speak. She had had a miscarriage. Now, when I was very young I decided that above anything else, my life's ambition would be to have a family of my own. If that meant giving up on all other dreams and desires, that was the one I would choose. A family. My girlfriend? Only dream was to be a mother. So you can imagine the devastation we both felt, even as young would-be parents. Little did we know that that devastation was but a micron of foreshadowing of things to come.

We managed to overcome the hurt and move forward. I have talked to my doctor about this on numerous occasions, and he is the same doctor who delivered me into this world, and he also is a little perplexed by our chemistry I suppose, for lack of better explanation. You see, despite the fact that we used contraceptives during as well as her using the birth control pill we somehow went through four more miscarriages over the next several months. Five. Five conceptions that should not have occurred (by all rights); five times having to deal with the loss of an unborn child. I swear by my life and my love of it that this is no lie. My family will back this up, as well as my former girlfriend and her family. Then, something happened.

Now 18 and my girlfriend pregnant the sixth time, the pregnancy is absolutely perfect. In fact I retell this story sometimes and many people are amazed at the ease of her pregnancy. She gained weight almost according to the 'textbook'. She never once experienced morning sickness; never once had unusual cravings; never bloated; never became 'moody'. In fact, in retrospect she was nicer during her pregnancy than at any time during our six year relationship. Even her delivery was remarkably smooth.

May 21st, 1999 my girlfriend goes to the hospital early in the morning where she is experiencing labor pains. They admit her as she is due to deliver at any time. By mid-afternoon they induce labor. I won't include the full details but what I will share is this. At 17:35 my then girlfriend was wheeled into the delivery room. At 17:52 she gave birth naturally to my son: Michael Edward Purdy; a baby boy weighing 9lbs3.5oz. To say that the experience of watching my son being born was the single greatest moment of my life would be by far the greatest understatement of my life. Men, if you have never had children I give you this advice that I strongly urge you to follow: be there to see the birth of your children; nothing, absolutely nothing else is more important. That moment, the moment he came into this world...well, that's something that I just don't have the words to share with you; you will have to either remember it for yourself or imagine what it might feel like because there is no other feeling that compares. Regardless of what my destiny from that point forth was of no concern to me any longer; I had, at the age of 18, accomplished my one true and unwavering dream: I had a family and I could sustain that family.

My son was me; I am him. Our baby pictures once hung side by side in our living room. When people came to visit they would comment on how cute his baby pictures were. The looks on their faces was priceless when one of us would politely point out that the one was of me at a young age. The resemblance was remarkable; almost uncanny. By the time he was five months of age he had take his first few steps and, this pains me to say because I was not there, he spoke his first word: Dada. That is the happiest I think I have been in my entire life. What I would give to have made it last for just one more day.

On October 16th, 1999, shortly after midnight, my parents entered the restaurant where I was working. I knew with just a glance. I knew. I knew. I knew. Nothing was said except by my boss which in my memory was nothing more than a sorry and a go. We picked up my girlfriend and drove to the hospital. I knew. The doctor came out. I knew. He asked for the mother; she was sitting in a wheelchair. The priest had got there at some point. All the doctor was able to get out was "I'm sorry." The absolutely most heartbreaking moment I ever bore witness to happened some few minutes after. We were brought in to confirm and well...because I think we needed to. When we came out, my girlfriend, a professed atheist, looked up from her wheel chair, shoulders slumped, hair disheveled, burning-red, tear-stained cheeks, eyes semi-swollen from tears and with a voice that shook as she spoke and broke the silence of the moment, she looked to my priest and asked, "Is Michael going to Hell because I don't believe in God?" I do not know if there is a God but if there was, I am sure that God must certainly have shed a tear in that moment. I have never been able to shake that feeling.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or Crib Death as it may be more commonly known as. There is no explanation. There are no signs. There is no answer. This, this lack of answer drove inside my brain like a splinter for my mind. How does one come to terms with that? Its been almost 13 years. My son would be a teenager soon. I tell people that I have come to terms with it but not really. How can you?

Michael Edward Purdy lives only in the memories of my mind and in the fantasies I create of what could have been. And he is everything he ever wanted to be in my dreams; he has never had to endure heartache; he has never known sorrow; he is good and righteous; and his father is so very, very proud of him.

Love and appreciate all that you have each moment of each day lest you lose the opportunity to do so.