Fast forward 8 years.
Rowan was born 3 months before my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The first time, of many, that I walked down the long, sterile hospital corridor, Rowan was with me. I held him tightly in front of me, shield-like, as I walked past the moans, the sobs, the breathing and beeping and voices. When we got to the room I offered him to Mom. He was the only thing I had to offer. Hope personified.
Dad was sent home to Mom's care and we visited and tried to encourage. Through months of exhaustion and emotions and monitoring, I would come and share and be. And I would bring this babe who would inevitably reach fat arms for my Mother. He seemed to know that he could somehow, somewhat, alleviate the suffering. And he did.
So there is this love between them, this child that thrived in her arms as her husband weakened.
And this is life, the joy and the sorrow and the death and the birth, all jumbled into one Holy mess. The pain of it takes my breath away on a daily basis. But only for a moment because..."the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Rev. 7:17) forever is on the way, and death, after all, is really only birth in disguise.