the boy next door was seventeen. he had cerebral palsy. i heard the words aspiration pneumonia i saw his body all gnarled up in the bed. he moaned a lot. and the only time he stopped was when there was music playing. that, and the day he died. then the moaning was different. it was from mom and dad. brother and sister. grandma and aunt. and i wished for the other moans to return.
somewhere down the hall i hear yelling. everyone hears it. is is the pained cries of a mother. and the strong angry voice of a father. 'that is my son. this is my son. no not my son.' and i try to block it out. but i know what is happening. and my heart turns in my chest, and i wish to be somewhere else.
i watch as people file in. i notice faces that i've seen before. and even with the door closed, i can hear the sobbing. so many young people filing in the room. and then i see post on facebook, and suddenly i realize. she is from the same town as me. she is brain dead. she is fifteen. and she believed her life no longer worth living. and i wished to be able to talk to her before she took her life.
a little boy. a grim diagnoses. remission. the return of the ugly word. stem cell transplant. and a very fast downhill spiral that lead to a mother and father saying goodbye to their only child. she came to tell me when they got the news. 'there's nothing else they can do.' and i wished for words that could heal.
and the little next door. i hear the doctors during rounds. congenital heart defect. that's what my little has too. they have done all they can. she will not make it. right now though, she is just a very tired little. her fade is slow. and she fades alone. no family comes to see her. the nurses hold and rock her while they can. they put her in a swing sometimes. they turn on music. and i wish for the ability to take her home, and hold her, until her little heart stops. i wish for her to know love.
these are the stories that haunt me, even after five months of being home. while i lived in a small room, that felt a little like hell for a time period, these people, they didn't get to go home and celebrate new milestones. they didn't have a release date from the hospital. some drove home with empty carseats. some have passed the next birthday only to continue to feel the ache of the loss.
shilo, she lays in her bed right now, sleeping soundly. she is snuggled up with her blankie and a full belly. her big sister sleeps a few feet away. and while life is not perfect, nor easy, it is lived.
and whenever i think of these families, i think also of a sweet little from a short time before abigail came to be. she was beautiful. the exact same size that shilo was when we met her. she had a head full of hair, and a home full of love. i held her, but not until after only her body remained. and at her funeral, i bent down, and kissed her head. i wanted to kiss it over and over again, like i do my girls now, until i see the slight wiggle of annoyance. she runs free now. plays. laughs. sings. and my heart longs for her, only a slight amount, compared to her mama and papa, to do those things here with her big sister and little sister.
my heart is longing to reconcile these things. children dying. a God who loves and gives good things. and so, it wrestles. it cries out for answers, searching endlessly through a book that has them. but sometimes, there are no answers. there is only the holding on to things i already know. the stories from long ago, and the knowing that He gives good and perfect gifts. the belief that He is good. and the knowing that when He calls us to the fire, He will not withdraw His hands.