The day had finally come to face reality and deal with the road ahead. Friday, Feb. 2, Katie and I loaded up the car and headed off to the hospital around 6:45 a.m. I had always thought about this moment and how we would be in a rush because the baby is coming. I know some fathers out there even do test runs to make sure everything will run smoothly on that special day. On this day there was no rush to the hospital. In fact, we drove as slow as possible knowing this would be the last time we would take the baby anywhere with us. This was the start of our difficult journey together that we had hoped would never have to happen.
Let me tell you that Friday was exhausting. The support of the family was nice to have, though, and having everyone there with us brought even more comfort and support. Thinking back, I was still in a little bit of denial about the whole situation, thinking that it was all a dream and at any moment I would wake up, but that never happened. Looking at Katie every moment almost brought tears to my eyes, and when I was away a tear or two did fall. I tried not to cry around her because I was trying to be strong and give her my shoulder to cry on. We did everything to get our minds off of the upcoming events that were about to take place.
Finally the time had come. After all day Friday and into the early morning hours on Saturday, Katie was ready to give birth. At 2:31 a.m. the proudest moment of my entire life came when our baby boy, Damien, was brought into the world. The best news I heard all day was it is a boy! And another great event was he was still alive, I had said in my previous article that he may not make it through the birth, but there he was, alive and safely in my arms.
Damien Joseph Clark was 2 pounds 12 ounces and was 14 inches long. He had a full head of hair and was peaceful. Damien never opened his eyes and never let out one cry, he was at peace and preparing himself for life. We had him baptized and everything and laid him in a custom blanket made by one of his aunts. From there everyone got a turn.
The look on grandparent's faces, the great-grandparents' faces, and friends and family were just too great to describe. Damien stole the show and why wouldn't he? He's the most beautiful baby in the world. We took our time and cherished every moment with him when he was alive.
At 3:28 a.m. on Saturday, Damien entered into heaven. Like I said before, this would be the proudest day and yet at the same time the saddest day of my life. No matter how much I did to prepare for this moment it wasn't enough. As I held him in my arms and sat in the rocking chair and rocked him I sang, Hush Little Baby, a song my parents would sing to me to put me to sleep. Katie and I took a nap with Damien and it was such a great nap. As I sit here now I know that he was with us still.
Thoughts raced through my head and the one that still sticks with me today is that I could do nothing. Parents look out for their children and try to protect them from the world's harmful happenings, but I could do nothing. I was helpless and for the first time in this whole ordeal I really felt helpless. I thought I was a bad father because I couldn't even try to help him. I know now that it was, of course, just a silly idea, but is hard to just sit there while you child is dying.
After eight hours we gave Damien to the nurse and said our fair wells and kissed him one last time until Tuesday when we would be at his funeral. The rest of the day was hard. We got out of the hospital on that same day and were with family until Tuesday.
Tuesday's funeral came and we held our precious Damien one last time before putting him back into his casket. One last glimpse of him in this life before all we have left are the pictures, and believe me we have a lot of them. The godfather and I were the pallbearers, which was great and also made me very proud to be his dad. When were at the cemetery and ready to leave I kissed the casket one last time and said a prayer. This is how I wanted to remember my son, God's little angel given to me for a brief time to show me the happiness of life.
As I sit here now I know that we didn't get our big miracle of life with Damien but we have many blessings to be proud of. We have our family, who has supported us and all of our friends who have shown their support in cards and prayers. The day on which Damien was laid to rest was beautiful and sunny, and I know he had something to do with that. All of the people who made everything possible for us, you know who you are and you were all great.
I want to leave you, the reader, with something this young man has learned. No matter what the odds, believe in something. Hope for something powerful and you shall receive it in some form. I know I didn't have much time with Damien but I have no regrets about the time I spent with him, which is really what everybody should feel. Leave no regrets behind. Finally, love with all of your heart, nobody can take that love away from you; the memories, the photos, the feeling of that soft skin. These are yours and be proud of yourself, and once in a great while it is ok to be vulnerable and let go.