I was struggling to find a way to deal with Perry's birthday. I knew that as much as my sleep sack program is meaningful, after everything was dropped off at the hospital I would still be left at my home feeling very much alone and empty.
What does someone do for a birthday for a dead child?
I searched the Internet and the experiences of people in grief groups. I kind of liked the concept of a memory garden and releasing balloons, but couldn't really settle. I wanted something to remind me of everlasting life, not a wake like 'celebration'. How did balloons or gardens remind you of that?
Enter the burn house off of Johnson Chapel Rd.
As we rounded the corner to begin preparations, something caught my eye. In a corner was a fountain. It wasn't the cheesy walmart kind either. Instantly the idea of memory garden with a fountain in the center was appealing.
Firefighters are scavengers. We know whatever is left will be destroyed during a training burn or hauled off with additional cost to a landfill. Typically the majority of the good bones are salvaged by the owners or construction company. So we scavenge copper with the proceeds to go to the TN fire fighter's memorial or towards materials for the training burn to make the house meet safety and EPA standards. Aluminum from ruined garage doors and other scrap might make enough to buy a new grill at the fire station or replace a TV. After that, windows can be replaced with plywood if somebody is in need of a new one. The rule is that if you want it, you label it, and if everything is cleared, no objections, you get it.
So I slapped my name on it.
An email appeared. The fountain was wanted by the occupants- although the last time they were in the house was two years ago and even after the city bought the house it was still lingering there.
But as the days stretched the fountain stayed in place, no word from the old owners who had sold the house. I discussed the fountain with an officer and a date was set that it was OK to salvage. My hopes grew. I didn't want the fountain salvaged for scrap if the owners didn't show up or be melted by the intense fire (it was next to the house).
So yesterday was the day. I was happily surprised it was still there. The thing weighed more than a car- so I had my husband drop off the truck. We had brought Perry home in the truck and it seemed fitting that I was going to bring the fountain home in it too.
The guys shoved and pushed, schemed and finally came up with a solution to move the hulking fountain. They created a lever out of lumber and finally slid it into the bed of the truck making a ramp. About 7 guys were involved in the operation.
They couldn't give me Perry back, but by the Grace of God, they'd have moved a monolith if I wanted it.
They seemed pleased.
Then my bubble burst. I heard something to the effect that someone had just called somebody else in the city and they had sent a reminder to the previous owners, they were waiting to hear back (and what a great thing we have moved it to make it easier). Next rapidly came the news that they wanted it. Then that the fountain had something to do with a lost child and symbolized everlasting life.
So I was a little sad, but I thought it had to be for some sort of a purpose. If it were me, I'd have moved Perry's fountain on the back of my truck shortly after we determined we would no rebuild. There had to be some reason that this fountain was still here after two years, too much coincidence that this object was somehow tying two families who had lost children.
I had it in my mind that perhaps this was God's way of bringing us together for some purpose. That I'd go to get something else I wanted the morning of the burn and the family would be there picking it up. Perhaps God was using to me to move the fountain because there is no way anyone would go through the effort to move it otherwise, it would have probably been salvaged for the metal and left in ruins. Perhaps in return there was something I was meant to gain (not as in money or an object) from this family. Something to do with the fountain symbolizing everlasting life (coincidence I wanted something that day to symbolize it).
So I went home feeling like this was some sort of grand God scheme, and told the guys it was OK, there was no way I could take the fountain to my house anymore.
I heard a grumpy rumbling on the side. "Well I would take it for you."
I love them. They are patchwork people like the rest of humanity and even if they wouldn't take it, I knew they wanted to for me.
I got another call today. The fountain had been picked up as a favor by their old landscapers. The landscapers were grouching that the family didn't even live in the state anymore they were in Florida. It would probably just sit in his yard until it crumbled.
My heart broke.
I can't help but feel like it was meant to be some sort of God plan, but somehow, someway got messed up. Like either the fountain was finding a new home to bless another family that needed it or that I was meant to meet these other parents when they picked it up themselves and through it gain some sort of insight into heaven that would help heal my faith. But instead none of it.
I feel denied. I found myself answering the firefighter reassuringly and then going into the bathroom to vomit after I hung up.
Today in this moment I can't tell you that there is a heaven. I can't decide if my feeling was totally wrong (I really thought I felt a stirring), or if there isn't a God and we just string together coincidences and nice 'whisperings of God' (that aren't really) to make ourselves feel better.
And the loss of Perry just hurts that much more.