Thirteen years ago today my life changed forever. Standing in the hospital ICU looking down at my infant daughter lying there completely hooked to machines, the only thing keeping her little body alive, is an image that will never leave my mind. When my mind transports me back it feels so real that I can not keep the emotions nor the tears that start to flow from taking over.
I can still see the look on the nurse's face as we entered the room that morning. How she wanted to avoid looking in our eyes. The catch in her voice when I asked why she had socks on her little feet, telling us we would need to speak to the doctor.
A team of doctors showed up. Our doctor told us that he didn't understand why her organs were shutting down, that it was really a simple operation to fix her heart. I remember asking him if he was asking us to make a choice to unhook her from the machines. I can still see the compassion in his eyes as he sadly told me no there is no choice to make. All I could do at that moment was hug him and thank him for trying to save Rebekah's life.
The next few hours felt like a living dream. Some phone calls were made, some friends arrived. Totally amazing to me thinking back because we had only lived in North Carolina for three short months! Some tears were shed but there were some moments of joy as well. Making the molds of her tiny hands and feet will be etched in my mind as one of those happy moments. As the process began more and more staff arrived until Rebekah's bed was completely ringed with observers.
In a blink of an eye the time to remove her from the life-support machines had come. Steve requested that I be able to hold her while this was done. The technician said that just is not possible, but in the end agreed to break the rules and let us. Holding her there in the rocking chair my heart was breaking. There are no words to express the pain that I felt saying good-bye to one that grew in my heart for nine months and in my arms for three. How do I let go of all the hopes and dreams that I had for that little girl in my arms? A mom should never have to do that!
As we made the four hour drive back from Duke University to our home, our arms were empty, the car seat was empty and our hearts were empty. The thoughts running through my mind at that time were for the nine children we were headed back to. How would I ever help them walk through the most tragic thing of their lives? How could I get past the ache in my own heart to lead them trough their grief? In God's grace and mercy He would see us through. It has been a very long journey through all the 'what ifs' and the 'if onlys'. Some say you never get over it you just get through it, day by day!
At least twice a year I stand at the threshold of the door looking into the past. Sometimes there are more tears than at other times. I don't really know why. Sometimes I can remember her short life and all the joy she brought me and other times I am overwhelmed with the loss and the pain that lives in my heart. Someday when I hold her in heaven I will understand. Thankfully here on earth I have children to hug me, grandchildren to love, a husband and dear friends who understand and let me weep.
Those of you that know me well, know that I am no writer! Sometimes though I am overwhelmed by emotions and that is when it comes out. Remembering Rebekah even if it is with tears keeps her alive in my heart.