A month has passed now since Kristen died, yet it seems like a lifetime ago. This is an account of that day, and I share it for a couple of reasons. First, I feel a need to write it all down. Maybe I'm afraid of forgetting. Maybe it's just a way to work through things. Regardless, I feel compelled. Second, I hope that you will see, along with me, the good things.
On August 17, 2009, we met with the doctors, chaplain and social worker around noon. Ron, Melody, Tammy and Kevin were with us as we heard them tell us that Kristen’s brain had sustained too much damage during the long bout of CPR on Friday. We had to prepare to say goodbye.
We knew that Jan, Emily and Grace were on their way to the hospital from Ness City. Will’s aunt and uncle had so kindly offered to bring them. We expected them to arrive around 2 or 2:30. We dressed Kristen in a sweet flowered dress to try to cover some of the many tubes and wires that were attached to her. She didn’t look like herself…she was so swollen. Emily, Grace, Will and I met with Leslie, a child life specialist from the hospital, who explained to the girls what they would see in the PICU. She showed them pictures of the equipment and gently answered their questions.
After that, the four of us made our way back to see Kristen in the PICU. We all got to hold her and just be together as a family. The girls went back to the waiting room while the doctor removed Kristen’s breathing tube. I held her in my arms as all of our family and friends filed silently into that tiny room. Kevin prayed and read scripture as everyone said their goodbyes. Will held our sweet baby as she took her last breath around 5:30.
We gathered our things and left that hospital with an empty carseat, heavy hearts and swollen eyes. I called my mom from the road to let her know that Kristen was gone. Little did I know that it would be one of the last times I would talk with her.
We arrived home late Monday night to a house filled with baby things…the pack and play in the living room, her high chair in the kitchen, her rocker seat, her blanket and toys. We moved all those things to her room and closed the door, unable to even look at those reminders of the baby we no longer had with us.
That’s the very sad, physical part of what happened. There were, however, some good moments over those 3 ½ days as well. Friends and family were right there to support us, some driving a very long way to be there. The many phone calls and messages made us feel so loved. The amazing number of visits and guest book entries left on our CaringBridge site humbled us greatly. Hearing of how people were constantly checking for facebook updates made us realize how much our loved ones care about us. It’s hard to even imagine how many prayers were being prayed for us that weekend and continue to be lifted up for us.
We were able to talk with the surgeon, to hug him and let him know that we were praying for him. He seemed so very broken. I don’t know about his relationship with God, but I never got the impression that he was a man of faith. I continue to pray that he bows the knee and submits himself to the One who gave him life and the talent to be a great doctor.
We saw our dear pastor rise above his own sadness over our situation and lead us when we needed him most. He baptized our baby as soon as he arrived at the hospital on Saturday. He prayed with us, cried with us and loved us through some very difficult days. He gently prepared us for what lay ahead of us and held us up as we walked. He spent time talking with Emily and Grace, letting them know that they are important, too. We’ve always known he was special, but he went above and beyond the call of duty that weekend, and for that we are grateful.
Our family and friends that rallied around us made such a difference, not only to us, but to the hospital staff as well. They definitely took notice of Kristen’s loved ones! I believe they saw firsthand what it means to be like Christ.
I will close with this…on a wall in our church’s fellowship hall are places for prayer requests and for answered prayers. Soon after Kristen’s surgery had been scheduled, I had placed a 3x5 card under prayer requests with Kristen’s name on it. I added a request “for safe surgery on Aug. 14th and a quick recovery.” Our first Sunday back, I noticed that the card had been moved to the answered prayer section. Written across the card were the words, “SHE IS NOW PERFECT.” Indeed, she is.