Tuesday, June 10, 2014

James Richard Tanory

My beautiful baby boy, James Richard Tanory, was born into Heaven on Wednesday, June 4, 2014.

I held him in my arms almost six hours after we discovered that his heart was no longer beating. We discovered it while looking at his lifeless body on the ultrasound monitor. Seeing and hearing the heart beat have been my two favorite things when accompanying Betty to ultrasounds and doctor visits for all three of my children - "it never gets old" as I like to say - and I saw right away that my baby's heart wasn't beating. It was an awful, terrifying moment that I will never forget. James' heart wasn't beating, but mine was - I could feel my heart throbbing throughout my entire body and up into my throat. I knew something was wrong.

When the ultrasound technician excused herself halfway through the process to get the doctor, Betty and I feared for the worst. Betty said she hadn't seen the baby move. I told her I hadn't seen the heart beat. We were both very scared. But I told her everything would be OK.

When our doctor told us that he had bad news - that the baby's heart was no longer beating - Betty cried. I held her in disbelief. I naively thought that it would be all right, that we could get his heart beating again, that we would do an emergency C section and then breathe life into him or that by some miracle my baby would be OK. I was in disbelief that just the week before we could see the baby hiccuping on the ultrasound, and now my baby was not moving.

We were asked if we wanted to deliver the baby that day, or wait a few days. We decided to deliver. We wanted to hold our sweet baby in our arms as quickly as possible.

Betty asked if it was a boy or a girl. We didn't know - throughout all of the ultrasounds, throughout receiving the MaterniT21 test to check for Down Syndrome, throughout meeting with our doctors, the ultrasound technicians, the nurses and the pediatric surgeon, we had managed to keep the gender a secret. But now Betty wanted to know.

It was a boy.

A boy. My son.

We had a name picked out: James Richard Tanory. He was named after two of our favorite people - our fathers.  James, after Betty's dad, Jimmy.  And Richard, after my dad. Or as my daughter Annie explains it, "James after Pops, Richard after Papa, and Tanory after us."

James was born into total silence at 2:30 pm on June 4. Our doctor placed him into Betty's arms right after his birth. She and I both looked at him for several minutes before the nurses cleaned him up. He was so beautiful.

He is so beautiful.

I could go on in full detail about how awful it is to lose a child, but if you've never experienced it then there's no words to explain it. I could tell you about grief and despair, and about being on the verge of crying at every instance. I could tell you about my prayers to God that he could take me instead of my son - an exchange I would gladly accept. I could tell you about how no man should have to pick out a casket for his child. I could tell you about sitting in a rocking chair in his room, humming Sweet Baby James to myself, wondering what could have been.

I could go on, and on, and on, in gory detail.

Instead, I will tell you about love.

After the nurses bathed James, he was clothed in a beautiful blue gown with hand-stiched crosses.  This was courtesy of Threads of Love, an organization of volunteers who make clothes for premature, sick and stillborn children.  I would like to tell the people at Threads of Love thank you - thank you for clothing my sweet child in our time of need.

After James was dressed, a photographer from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation donated her time and effort to take pictures of our baby boy. She has already shared several pictures with us, and we shared two of them with our friends and family at his funeral service. We had such a short time with our baby boy, and these pictures will help us remember him for a lifetime. I would like to tell the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep Foundation and the photographer thank you - thank you for helping us remember our child.

Our priests at St. George Catholic Church dropped everything they were doing to come to the hospital and pray over Betty and the baby. They gave our baby a place to rest at the cemetary at St. George. They planned the funeral for us and helped us tremendously in our time of need, and continue to help us. Thank you for helping me to grow closer to God instead of blaming God.

Thank you to the bereavement committee at St. George for donating food and time to the reception after the funeral.

I've written before about how amazing Betty's friends are, and about how they set up a food calendar. It goes way beyond food - we have depended on these people for so much, and they have always delivered. I have learned so much about friendship from these ladies. They have been there for us for everything, no questions asked. When we needed flowers for James' funeral service, it was taken care of. When we wanted balloons for our kids to float up to James in Heaven, it was done. They are a constant source of love and dedication, and I hope that they know how much we love and appreciate them.

I don't know what we would do without Betty's parents. They have helped us with everything. Her mother even came with me to the funeral home - you can't get much more moral support than that. I don't know how I would have been able to handle that - and many other situations - by myself.

My parents took our other two children to their house in Lafayette for several days, and kept them entertained - and safe! I'm the nervous parent, so on a typical day I'm usually bugging Betty about all of the safety hazards that we need to make sure the kids avoid. But after having lost a child, my nervousness and anxiety kicked into overdrive. My parents were grieving but took our kids home with them and kept them happy and healthy, and I can't thank them enough.

To our family, who drove in from out of town to attend the funeral - thank you so much! Having you here with us meant so much to us.

To my brother, Todd, and Betty's cousin, Abby - thank you for being godparents to our baby. Thank you for being pallbearers and walking James to his final resting place.

To everyone who has shown love to us and our baby - thank you for the food, the flowers, the cards, the emails, the text messages, the prayer books, the gifts for Annie and Peter to keep them entertained, and thank you for your prayers. We have tried to keep up with every gift we've received but we have been overwhelmed with your love and generosity. If we miss thanking anyone personally, please know that we deeply appreciate your kindness.

To my beautiful wife, Betty: thank you. You've always shown me love and patience. You've always been the greatest mommy. You've been so strong throughout all of this, and you amaze me every day. I love you more than you could ever imagine.

Looking back on what I've written, it seems to me that this is a Jazz Funeral of a blog. That seems fitting, considering we live in Louisiana. And because I've heard enough Jazz Funerals in my time, I know that the sadness and emptiness that I'm feeling will eventually be overtaken by the love that is keeping the darkness at bay.

Speaking of love, I have one more person to thank:

Thank you to my sweet baby James. I'm sorry, James. I'm sorry that I could not do more for you. Thank you for being in our lives. Please look out for us, because you know your old man will need all the help I can get. I love you so much.