Saturday, May 6, 2017
"Reading to Rowan": Charlotte's Web...the last 3 chapters
Exactly a year ago, I wrote a post about Rowan and his friend, Charlotte, whom he met while they were both hospitalized in San Antonio. Rowan was battling sepsis again at the time, and Charlotte was being treated for Leukemia. In that post I talked about Rowan reading Charlotte's Web, and it being the first time he truly "wanted" to read a whole book. I also shared pictures of me taking them both to see the play, "Charlotte's Web" at Magik Theater. If you haven't read the post I'm talking about yet, here is the link to that one... It will help you understand the post I am writing now.
Rowan loved reading that book so much, and he went to the play, so he knew the ending...but he never finished reading the book himself. He tried so hard to finish it before we took Charlotte to see the play, but we just didn't get it done in time. When we were packing for Seattle shortly after that, Rowan asked me to make sure to bring it with his homeschool books. He was committed to finishing it, so we could finish the study guide and he could take the test. So, I brought the book with us to transplant.
I did do some homeschooling with Rowan during the first couple weeks of chemo and transplant, on the days he felt up to it. But as you know, he became so very ill after the first transplant failed. So, most of our time at Seattle Children's we did what he called "talking school", like History, Spanish, etc. He did a few math sections too, and a few phonics pages, but he never felt good enough to read the book while we were there those six months. When he passed away, and I returned home, it was one of my biggest regrets. He knew the end from the play, but he hadn't finished reading his favorite book on his own. It hurt my heart so badly. I felt guilty that I hadn't pushed to make sure he did before he got too sick...before he died.
Then, while talking to a friend about it, I said "I wonder what chapter we were even on? And I wonder if there will be significance to it?". The book was still packed with all of his things from the hospital, and was somewhere in his Iron Man room. She told me that I should find it and see, and we agreed that I could read it to Rowan on my visits to the cemetery. It took me a few days to work up the courage to go dig and find the book in his room, but I eventually did. When I opened the book to the page that was marked with his bookmark, I couldn't believe it. He only had 3 chapters left to go...and the significance of the titles of those chapters took my breath away. I quickly realized that where Rowan had stopped in the book, is where God wanted us to stop at that time. I was supposed to read the last 3 chapters out loud to him, after his death, and to cherish those moments with his spirit. Let me explain if I can...
XX. The Hour of Triumph
I take this chapter to symbolize Rowan's cardiac rest, and subsequent resuscitation. Rowan coded, he died... but they did CPR and got him back. He was coherent afterwards, he wiped my tears, etc. There was an hour of triumph. I was able to calm him, tell him how much we loved him, comfort him etc, before they sedated him to place him on ECMO life support. We talked about God and Jesus. He was peaceful. He knew he was going to be ok...either way.
Rowan never woke up again...so that hour of triumph was so important to me. God wanted me to read this chapter to Rowan, so I could realize that.
XXI. Last Day
I think this one is pretty evident. It symbolizes just that... the last day. And just look at some of the text in this chapter:
"But I feel peaceful."
"Your future is assured. You will live secure and safe..."
"Nothing can harm you now."
God wanted me to read this chapter aloud as well, to remind me that Rowan is at peace, safe, secure...in His arms.
XXI. A Warm Wind
The final chapter, is also significant. Every time Ian and I are out at the cemetery, or even when it's just me by myself...we notice a period of stillness and calm, almost like the wind just stops, and then all of the sudden a big gust of warm air rushes past us, swirling around us. We say "thank you Rowan" and call them "Rowan hugs". I have visited his grave nearly 2 dozen times. This always happens. Rowan is my warm wind now. God knew I needed to have that confirmed.
I have read each of these chapters to Rowan out loud at the cemetery now, on 3 separate occasions, one chapter at a time...
I finished yesterday. And of course, God was still nudging me, because there was even significance to yesterday. See, I had been putting off reading the final chapter for the past couple weeks...simply because I didn't want it to end. I didn't want it to be over. However, yesterday when I stopped in HEB to get flowers for Rowan's grave, these pink tulips jumped out at me.
They were the palest shade of pink and so beautiful. I almost laughed out loud when it popped into my head that they reminded me of a baby pig, of Wilbur, after a buttermilk bath. I knew that was Rowan urging me to read the last chapter. So, I bought the pale pink tulips, took them to his grave and finished the book, reading it out loud to him yesterday.
Instantly I looked down at his grave, and at the flowers and I am not even kidding you, the tiniest little spider climbed over one of the tulips! I grabbed my phone to get a picture, but it disappeared into the dirt. Such an amazing sign though. I know Rowan was so happy, and proud of me for finishing the book with him.
Then I looked down at the journal that I write in while I'm at the cemetery, and saw these two photos. It was a gift and has photos of him all over the cover, but of the tens of thousands of photos they could have chosen from Facebook and the blog from over the years...these were 2 of them...Amazing.
Rowan with the same color of tulips!
I may start the book completely over again, and read it to Rowan again and again...I don't know, I haven't decided yet. But, I know he will give me signs if that's what he wants me to do.
There is even more symbolism in the book, I could go on and on, but I think you get the significance it has had in my life, in Rowan's, and even in his friend Charlotte's and her family now too. I don't think any of us will ever see or read this book the same way again.
I want to close this post with a few priceless pictures of Rowan and Charlotte...
having fun, just before he left for transplant in Seattle...
And I would like to ask you for prayers for his friend, Charlotte. She recently relapsed, and is now battling Leukemia for a second time. Please help me pray for her complete and total healing, with as little suffering through treatment as possible, and for comfort and peace for her family.
Rowan and Charlotte