The best gift you can give a parent who has lost a child is simple, it doesn't cost and it only takes a minute. It's the gift of Remembering.
Yesterday, as I received a handful of emails from family and friends it soothed my soul and gave light to a dark day (honestly-dark and cloudy-all day).
Every time someone remembers Elle, talks of Elle, or ultimately is inspired by Elle it makes my heart glad.
|Miss Gentry. Her own little miracle, and new big sister, visiting cousin Elle.|
|A very Little C|
*My super-human sister Catherine is currently on her way to becoming an "authoress" and studying for her PhD in BYU's creative writing program. During this time, she wrote a short story titled, "I Was Going to Meet Death Today." In writing it, she drew on her own experience with her daughter, Madi, our niece, Gentry, and of course Miss Elle Belle. The following excerpt was especially meaningful.*
She is surrounded by pale pink bedding, hair perfectly parted and coiffed with a pink bow glued to her head with KY Jelly and matching pink knitted booties warming her feet. Her parents must have gotten here last night after the doctor gave them the news that Luna had coded three times yesterday in twelve hours and now it was only a matter of how many more times they wanted to bring her back before letting her go. I glance at the clock; I am sure they are waiting at the doors for shift change to end at 6:00 a.m., but I have a few minutes left to say my own goodbyes.
I pick up her little hand and let the natural reflex occur as she curls her five perfect fingers around my wrinkled cold forefinger. I close my eyes and breathe in the sweet, distinct smell of her tiny body—baby powder mixed with the seven medications she has been on for her three months of life in our attempt to keep her here until we could save her. I take a deep breath and let my mind wander.
Thirty three years and hundreds of babies, but I remember every one of my seventeen heart transplant babies by name, by face, and by smell. The unique mix of their medications mixing together and floating up into the air of their tiny rooms during my twelve hour shifts is as unforgettable as the first time a person smells vanilla. I can close my eyes and picture each one of them. I remember the gurgling stories Todd told me during his diaper changes, the funny tweety bird sounds Charlotte made when she wanted my attention and I wasn’t giving her all of my focus, and Cole’s bright blue eyes that followed my every move around the room as I changed the tubing, typed up medication dosages on the computer, and refilled the drawers underneath his plastic bed with burg rags and Huggies while he laid quietly in his crib.
My seventeen heart babies are different from all of the other babies I have taken care of. They are stronger, braver. They come with broken hearts. They are broken to begin with, but it is almost as if they are born knowing they can’t win, knowing they can’t be fixed, but they fight anyway. There are so few heart babies that make it to the transplant unit alive, even fewer that will ever be carted out through the front doors with new hearts, but with each one I can’t help but believe that somehow this time my baby will beat all the odds and live.
And that sums up the beauty of the gift of Remembering. It lets me know that Elle lives, not just far away, awaiting our reunion; she lives, helps and inspires others today and for that I am eternally grateful and proud to be her mother