The Friday following Thanksgiving has, for the last fifteen years, been an incredibly painful reminder of just how fragile life is. It's a reminder that life can, and does, change in the blink of an eye. It's a reminder to not take things, especially each other, for granted. It's a reminder that our time here is not guaranteed. It's a reminder of the day that my oldest daughter, Hope, became deathly ill and literally had one foot out the door.
When Hope was six months old she contracted bacterial meningitis that entered her body through an ear infection. She spent ten days in the hospital, four of those in the picu in a medically induced coma. A coma we weren't sure would be reversible. We ended each day not knowing if we'd get another with her. We weren't sure what damage had been done when she stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. We weren't sure if she would ever be the same again. I did know that I was never going to be the same again. Watching your child dying in front of you leaves you forever changed.
You entertain the worst of the worst thoughts known in existence. Like, what will I bury my child in? Do they make coffins that small?? How will I ever be able to get over the death of my child???
That remains the single darkest moment in my life.
It's so hard to not acknowledge the what ifs in this sort of scenario. I constantly ask myself what would have happened if we hadn't gotten to the hospital when we did. What if the doctor didn't recognize the serious nature of my daughter's illness as quickly as he had. She'd had one seizure at home, and we rushed to the hospital, but it was a 25 minute drive. By the time we got there and got triaged and into a room, almost an hour had passed since the seizure. She was almost behaving normally by then. What if the doctor had been distracted and missed some of the signs. What if we had gotten a different pediatrician at the hospital we were transferred to. What if he hadn't been a fucking rock star who knew his shit. What if she had suffered some serious brain damage from being oxygen deprived. Oh my God, the list of what ifs could go on for days.
So, I end up spending about half the day playing the what if game. I mourn the loss of daughter's hearing. I mourn damage we do know about and the damage we're blissfully unaware of.
But then I see her crooked smile and remember that I still have her. She's not quite as whole as she was that Thanksgiving (none of us are), but she's still here. I get to hug my daughter. I get to watch her grow into the charming, witty, and intelligent young lady she's becoming. I get to sneak up behind her (because
I am so blessed to have been given this time with her. I'm so thankful to have this beautiful person in my life!!!