To the baby in the room across the hall.

Dear baby~

I don’t know your name.

I don’t know why you were here in the PICU, I don’t know how long you had been here.

I know only that today you became an angel.

Your room is dark now. Your beautiful pictures and the decorations on your door are gone now.

I hope you are running and laughing and playing up in heaven tonight, free of tubes and wires and beeps and pokes and all the things that you were hooked up to in your tiny crib.

Yesterday morning you started having troubles. Your room was a hive of activity all morning and that code light, that damn red code light was lit up above your door as doctors and x-ray machines and surgical teams moved effficiently in and out. My eye caught that of your nurse and tears welled up in my eyes. Because she is our nurse too. And I knew that look on her face. I knew the look on your momma’s face too, as she leaned against the nurses desk watching all the activity and feeling helpless to it all. And all I could do was pray…

They eventually stabilized you. When I left to go home, you seemed stable. I knew our nurse/your nurse was busy in your room doing the amazing work only she can do to keep very chaotic little bodies as stable as possible. Last night when she got off shift she texted me that it had been a rough day, and that she missed coming in to our room for her loves. I texted her back that it was ok – we sent her our love all day, and I knew she was right where she needed to be all day – taking care of YOU.  And I know she gave it her all. I know she poured every last ounce of anything she had left into you all day. And when she left, and she needed to, she let all of those emotions about how hard that day was flow as tears.

I hope you are able to look down now and see her and know what an amazing person you had taking care of you. All of them here are amazing. I saw your beautiful pictures – you were a smiling happy baby – surely you knew the love they gave you. I hope you watch over all of them as they continue having hard days, and continue coming in and doing what they do with smiles on their faces, even if those smiles are hiding tears sometimes.

And today I came back and realized your room was clean.

You were gone.

I tried to tell myself maybe you just got transferred somewhere. Maybe you had to go down to the CICU or maybe they flew you to Chicago.  Sure they did.

But see, I know that’s not the reality of life in the ICU.

I know what that code light means.

And I don’t know why today was your time, and two years ago when my daughter was in the room right next to yours, and her code light was going off and going off and going off for so many long hours…..why it wasn’t her time. I don’t understand why some babies make it, and some babies don’t.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that here in the ICU, as much as it feels like a weird microcosm of “home” sometimes….it also feels like the hardest place in the world to “live”. Because while many miracles and successes happen here….just as often there isn’t a happy ending.

But what I want to tell you is that you earning your angel wings was not in vain.

You made an impact with your little life.

You made an impact on me. And I don’t even know you. I hope I can find out your name at least. I’d like to honor you by at least knowing your name.

Because of that dark room with it’s absence of a teeny crib and beautiful pictures of your adorable smile, I will hug my babies tighter. I will grab onto life a little harder. I will complain a LOT less.  I will smile more often and I will forgive more easily and I will not take one single minute of life – whether it is here on the hard boxes of bliss or home in my own zone of comfort – for granted.

I wanted to be sad today, not quite like this. But i was feeling sorry for myself. Sorry for my own baby girl who was laying in the room across the hall from you. I dropped her sisters off at school and i was sad that I had to say goodbye to them and couldn’t tell them when i would see them again. Maybe in two days or maybe a week. I passed my little girl’s classroom and I started to cry as i realized she should have been sitting there at the yellow table, brow furrowed in concentration as she worked on her letters and numbers. She should be going on her very first field trip tomorrow to the horse farm.  She has been so excited for that trip! It hurts to think of how devastated she will be when she finds out she missed it.
But now I think of all the firsts you will have missed to, and i am glad for the ones my baby HAS experienced. I will try my best to not focus on the things she’s missed, and instead be overjoyed for the things she HAS had.

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Dear baby….you weren’t here long, but you made a difference. Your smile was beautiful and I will likely never forget it.
Fly high sweet baby girl~

 

T.

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Comments

  1. Terra, I do not know you or your precious Kendall. Somehow, I came across one of your posts on FB about your daughter and my heart immediately went out to each and every one of your family! I joined Kendall Krew and look forward to hearing how strong she is despite challenges that present themselves daily. I cannot imagine how she fights as she does, how strong you are for her and with her, how your other children miss you and their little sister, how it is to be separated and to not complain! You are (all) an inspiration to so many; we can all learn from you!! Especially today, we can learn from your insight to not take things for granted.
    I, too, will pray for the angel across the hall!! I hope her family will remember her beautiful smile through their pain!
    I will continue to pray for your family and all of Kendall’s medical team!
    Thank you, Denise Bach

  2. I just wanted to thank you for this article, it was so beautiful and sad. It makes you take a momemt in life to realize how much you should be greatful for and not look at what you dont have instead. I lost my mother at 22 to Cancer she passed away in the ICU after just a short 3 month struggle with Cancer. Its only been 3 years since she has passed and I know have a beautiful healthy and happy little boy (Who I feel so blessed for) but like every one else you sometimes overlook the important stuff when I have a bad day or even this past fathers day I was more hurt that I wasnt there to celebrate that special day with my Mother where as everyone else was with all their family. I read this article and it made me realize how lucky and blessed I am and I should always look at the postive becasue we are blessed everyday by god and we always have angles looking over us and protecting us. Thank you for reminding me that we are all blessed everyday we are here with our loved ones. Even if its hard and when we have bad days we should always look for the good that God has given us.

  3. A year ago, I was in the PICU with my 12 year old daughter. She had a brain tumor. Initially, the prognosis was that was more than likely terminal. We were granted a miracle and it was benign. She lost hearing in her right hear, but other than the scar on the back of her head, you would never know that happened. I will never understand why it happened or why we were granted the miracle, my, now 13 year old struggles with this question as well.
    I have some very close friends that stood with us in the PICU when my daughter was there. They were recently back in the exact same PICU with their 5 month old granddaughter. She had heart surgery and developed an infection. Though we prayed hard, she did’t make it. This post you made really hit home for me…Most people will never have to step through the dreaded automatic doors of a PICU… but I understand… maybe not as well as you, or my dear friends… but I do. Thank you for this post. #kadenskrusaders

  4. Your post touched my heart. I have been in your shoes as I “lived” in the hospital with my daughter the first several years of her life due to complex CHD (congenital heart defects), lung and GI diseases. Jessica’s light was the one that light up numerous times, she was the one who bled out during one of her many heart surgeries and was in the OR for many hours due to hemorrhaging, who had strokes with the first two heart surgeries which caused severe side effects which include blindness, paralysis and more. But she was also the one who stopped hemorrhaging when we were told to go to the hospital to spend her last hours with her. She was the one who, through hard work and countless hours of therapy (OT, PT and Speech) regained most of what was lost during those horrible strokes. She was the one who used a motorized wheelchair and was on oxygen for 17 years, had chronic abdominal pain from her GI defects yet loved going to school, going to family get togethers and having her own birthday theme parties. As my dad said many times, “Jessica loves life more than anyone I know yet she has the most difficult life than anyone I know.”

    Jessica wasn’t expected to survive childhood yet she broke all expectations she lived into adulthood. Jessica Marie Jensen passed away at home with her daddy and mommy (me) beside her on Oct 4-2010, 4 months and 1 day after turning 22 years old. Jessica never surpassed the level of a 7-8 year old due to either the strokes, lack of oxygen caused by her CHD & lung diseases or a genetic defect called DiGeorge. Whatever the cause, she was always our little girl who loved princesses, Barbies, video games, coloring and writing her little girl stories. She was usually happy and loved everyone she met. She also gained quite a following in the CHD world (Congenital Heart Defects) as I shared her story and made friends worldwide via CHD support groups. Here is a story of love, support, hope and faith and how Silly Socks changed so many lives. http://fancydancy.blogspot.com/2015/10/silly-socks-jess.html

    I also wanted to say that having “lived” at the hospital, I saw children who didn’t make it. Several have stood out in my mind, scarred my heart and made me a better person. Some of them were CHD children too, one who I knew from the time she was an infant until she passed away following complications to heart surgery when she was 5 years old. My Jessica knew her and cried for her. She also asked me when she was going to go to heaven to live with Zoe.

    This life of caring for a medically fragile child is not an easy life. Our other children grow up worrying that their ill sibling could die at any time and they may feel left out because the ill one needs so much more attention. But we make it work. We love each of them more deeply and more intently because the ill one has taught us how to appreciate each moment. We either grow close or further apart as a couple and thankfully my husband and I have been able to pull through the most difficult times and come through for each other. We are stronger because of our little baby girl who made us see this life through God’s eyes.
    Nancy Jensen talked about…Silly Socks & Jess