This Little Light of Mine

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Part 1: It is time...the story of the day our angel flew home...

    So, as today is the 1 year anniversary of our precious daughter leaving us to go to her true "forever home" I sit her with hopes of telling the story of those last days.  Jack and I sit at home tonight eating Rum Raisin ice cream which was her favorite and try to wrestle with all of the emotions that continue to rattle around in the holes in our hearts from the loss of a child.

    Last year during the Labor Day weekend I found myself alone at home with Jack and the kids traveling for a visit to Montgomery to see family.  We had been continuing the push of adoption stuff and feeling more hopeful that there would be some progress.   Saturday morning I received an email message that was being exchanged regarding Melissa.  Shortly after my cell phone rang.  The number was from Haiti.  It was Michelle letting me know that Melissa hadn't started having trouble with her breathing and her oxygen levels had dropped into the 30's.  They were now at Medishare hospital and trying to find somewhere for her to get oxygen. 

    As I held my breath trying with desperation to be calm, I could feel the wave of fear and panic wash over me.  I felt small and alone. 

So very alone.

It felt much like the very day I learned of the severity of her heart issues.  A sense of disbelief in the weight of the reality in front of me.

My brain's first means for coping were to downplay the situation and go into "doctor mode".  Emails and calls went out and I found myself advocating for Melissa as a physician by the afternoon searching with desperation for help.  At some point Saturday night I was in the midst of an e-mail debate between 2 heart surgeons who were going to be in the D.R. the next week doing heart repairs on children.  It was at this point as they debated Melissa's survival I had to throw my hands up in surrender. 

NO!  I can't do this!  I can't be her objective doctor and advocate for her medical needs AND be her Mommy.  This is going to drive me off the crazy cliff.  Please...PLEASE someone take the role of physician for her.  It was too much. 

I ached in a real physical way to be there to hold her.  Comfort her like a Mom would do.  She wasn't without that touch and I was grateful for those holding her but it should be ME.  Selfishly in every way, I wanted to be the one to hold her.

I prayed...begged...yelled...begged some more...and cried to God.  WHY?  You brought me here (at times dragged me here) and I opened my heart to letting this tiny soul and now it is being ripped from my chest.  What was the point of it all?

We were blessed to not only have Michelle and Wilna (her Mommy in our absence-see previous posts) doing everything in their power to get her to possible places of help but there was also a nurse working with our group.  Chelsey Beckham along with Sara Sealine (another missionary with Chadasha) stayed with our sweet baby at all times.  She was never, not for one second, without the warm touch and love that I would have wished for her.  Chelsey, Sara, Wilna and Michelle communicated tirelessly throughout the night and day.  By Sunday night, Melissa seemed to have stabilize.  She was admitted to King's Hospital as she received evaluation and oxygen awaiting for treatment recommendations from the heart doctors.  Jack was still out of town with the kids and checking in for updates.

Monday morning as I was trying to figure out about traveling down and how to accomplish this the reports on our sweet baby seemed to show promise for improvment.  Her oxygen needs were decreasing and oxygen levels were up.  My heart sighed with a small whisper of relief.

I had been getting fairly frequent updates from Chelsey and the girls and then it seemed that 1 hour turned to 2 then turned to 3.  Not wanting to be alarmed I distracted myself with cleaning.  If you know me and how much I hate housework this was not helping my anxiety levels.  Then, the phone rang.  It wasn't a Haitian number but was Greg Roberts (Chadasha missionary and Director of Haitian Operations) number of my caller ID. 

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I knew. 
Before he even spoke I knew. 

After working with Greg for almost 2 years it didn't take long from the sound of his voice to know something was wrong.  Bad wrong.  He paused as I have seen Greg do on other occasions as he searched for the words that no ear wanted to hear. 

She was gone....our baby was gone...


To recount the actual events for those who also loved her and wanted to know, I am going to share the words of Chelsey describing her last moments.  Pardon the roughness as this was typed hurriedly on a blackberry and I am just copying and pasting.

"when i last messaged you at 2 and she was sleeping i told you her sats were in the high 70s. i checked them every 20 minutes or so and they stayed around 77 HR in the 120s. she wasn't working hard to breathe, she was sleeping like she always sleeps. probably around 2:30 or 3 i guess i noticed her sats had dropped to about 68, which still isn't terrible for her. she was on 1 L at the time. so, i had wilna pick her up and try to reposition her and kinda rouse her a bit so she would take some deep breaths.

She was really lethargic, but you know how lazy she can be when she's sleeping... she doesn't like to be bothered haha. her sats were still around 70, HR around 127. she threw her arms around a bit and made a few noises, angry because we were messing with her. and then, she stopped breathing. i had wilna put her down on the bed so i could check her out, and we called the nurse in th ehallway in.

It was literally that fast. she went from sats of 70 HR 120 to 0 in a matter of seconds. Her heart really just stopped. There was no distress, no working to breathe, no lack of oxygen. her lips never turned blue, her hands and feet were warm. She went from fine to gone in minutes.  I could not believe it.  But honestly, Jenny, there was absolutely not a more peaceful way for her to enter Heaven. 

When they brought her back in the room, she looked exactly like she did when she was sleeping. Beautiful and peaceful. It was astonishing to me that she was so much better today and then gone in minutes, but I'm convinced that was God giving us a little more time to love who she really was, your daughter.

I know there are no words, and there won't be. But know that it was obvious that angels came and took her calmly by the hand, and she was ready to go. And now, Jesus is holding her! With a brand new heart that works perfectly, brand new lungs and legs and everything that work perfectly. and she's waiting to see you when you get there. :)smile"


Part 2 coming soon- The Aftermath

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

40 yr old found as stowaway in 1st Class

I have on a few special occasions considered indulging just once in a "first class" airline seat.  The crazy expense of such exclusive tickets never once superceded by intense frugality. 

Chipolte Chicken or Tortellini with Red Sauce
This trip all the rules were tossed out the window.  I bought an "economy" ticket to go to Santiago which is the class of ticket I always purchase.  Somehow though, 2 of the 3 legs placed me in 1st class.  I felt like a little kid trying to sit at the grown up table at Thanksgiving.  Totally out of my element.  But admittedly, the last leg pushed me over the top.  As we took off and the slow beverage service of the rest of plane proceeded, we were handed warm cloths to clean our hands.  Warmed mixed nuts (the good kind with pistachios, cashews, etc. No peanuts in this one!).  Then we were served a wonderful meal complete with available wine and cheesecake.  WHAT?!?!

 No lie, it was nice to be doted on.  However, I seriously question if this lifestyle would be for me in a broader sense as I was privy to the musings of the 2 gentlemen in front me discussing the finer points of how life should be lived in the moment for ourselves.

Uh, NAH...

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."        Galatians 5:13


For those faithful few followers, you will notice a glaring omission in the timeline in this blog.  I do intend to blog on Melissa's death but I'm not there yet.  So, somewhere in the twisted psyche of my mind I think I'm holding a spot for that special blog until I'm really ready to say goodbye.

Fast forward from last September to today.......

I have been struggling with my "place" in the Haiti missions since we lost our sweet 'Lissa.  It felt most days like I was walking around to an off note tune.  Recognizable song but off key.  There was an attempt to coordinate with a team from our North Alabama Presbytery and I went that path for several months but never quite felt like I was to be on that team.  Love the people going just wasn't feeling that Heavenly shove push.  A couple months ago, Greg Roberts who is our main man in Haiti called and we began talking about the heart program with Chadasha.  When I hung up the phone with, I knew.


So, plans went underway for me to travel with the next group of kiddos in May to come to Santiago, Dominican Republic to have surgery with International Children's Heart Foundation.  Time then went into super overdrive with work challenges, end of school mayhem, etc.  I found excuse after excuse to postpone the purchase of my airline ticket.  The original plan was to leave on May 26th.  The Memorial Day weekend came and I began to seriously feed the doubts of the mind on going. 

Was the use of resources like money and time out of work being used wisely by my going to Santiago?

Was the strain on my family leaving for several days right?

and on, and on, and on...

Monday I then recalled how a friend had once advised me in another big decision in my life:

Next week will come regardless of the decision.  Do I want to be at the end of the week with the same old routine or be at the end of the week having "jumped"?

So, I jumped...less than 24hrs before leaving a one ticket was purchased to Santiago...
God I trust you are there to catch me...