Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not Like This

On occasion I have given thought to how I might want to die. The results of such mind exercises are always the same; an unexpected bullet to the back of head or I fall asleep one night and don’t wake up. I don’t end up in the hospital in either scenario, nor do I have a chance for goodbyes.

It is one thing to imagine from the bleachers, beer and hotdog in hand, how you will be "out" but quite another thing to actually be the player in the game who is facing another strike. It is even worse when it is your child going up against the pitcher, instead of you.

During the early days in the hospital, I did not genuinely feel that my child could die. Yes, she had a major heart defect, but there was a plan for this in place. When her second, more menacing heart defect was detected, I felt the pressure of possibility weighing down on me.

Within days of that discovery, my baby became very sick, the kind of sick that made her whole body seize. I could hardly stand to leave her, but there was nowhere to rest my head in that place. So I would sob in the car all the way home, wondering if she would be ok.

But I hadn’t yet felt the reality that she might die. Oh, I was scared of it but deep inside I still had that nebulous sense of that not being something in my world. Like it just wasn’t part of my brain’s schema.

The call came around midnight. The caller id flashed straight into my heart... the NICU. Just the ringing was making me shake. We were afraid to pick it up. When I did, the very first thing the doctor said (blurted out) was that my baby was ok. They wanted to do a lumbar puncture and needed me to come down and give written permission for the procedure.

For the first time, but not the last, I wondered how they tell you that your baby has died.

A week or so later, my baby girl stopped breathing in my arms and the reality of it sank in. Suddenly there was a whole new category of thoughts in my brain. The tentacles of horror crept up my legs and arms, and twisted around me, squeezing me tight.

I am an emotionally secluded person. Because of this, my husband and I were married in a secret ceremony ten months before our white wedding. For me, promising the rest of my life to my love needed the privacy that such an intimate moment deserves. My child’s return to God would require that same sort of privacy.

You won’t get that in a NICU or PICU. Every time my daughter’s body would begin to fail, a swarm of doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists would come and "work" on her. I would stand out of their way and pray, "Not like this, Lord, please not like this." I wanted them to save her so badly I could taste the coppery ache for it in my mouth.

Because if she had to die, I wanted it to be our little secret. I did not want any other person to share it. I wanted to be alone with her... holding her, kissing her, and whispering love in her ear.


L.L. Barkat said...


you do it again. always. tears in my eyes... the coppery ache passed on...

Monica said...

I am thanking God that she made it through, my prayer for her is a very healthy future!!!!!!!!!

Jennifer said...

Speechless here. Just ... speechless. Wow.

Jasmine said...

I'm so thankful to God that she made it through.


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