All Of It
by Patricia Haggard
Her long creamed-coffee-brown hair fanned out on her pillow as I brushed it religiously for the 26th day. As I parted it in sections and began to pull it into braids, I flashed back to when she was four. I brushed and braided her hair then, and she wiggled and squirmed. Only moments later she reached up to pull her finally-tidy hair back down around her face. Her preschool giggles faded in my mind as I tied off the braids and kissed her now 13-year-old forehead.
Thanks to a virulent form of staph infection, MRSA, my daughter, Katie, lay in the ICU at Seattle Children’s Hospital fighting for her life. Her lungs no longer worked. She had tubes in her neck, which added oxygen to her blood, and one down her throat to force air into her body. The teen who never sat still, who loved to flip and twist in gymnastics and dance, now lay perfectly still in a hospital bed.
The waiting and worrying ended on Easter Sunday, 2008. Katie was taken into surgery. The doctors told us all went well, and we finally exhaled and headed upstairs to enjoy an Easter egg hunt with our three young ones. We didn’t even make it out of the elevator before we received an urgent page.
The doctor was calm and solemn, and dreading every step he took towards the tiny room where he delivered the news of my daughter slowly bleeding to death. We asked the dumbest questions like, “What about a lung transplant?” or “Do we have enough time for Grandma and Grandpa to get here?”
She wasn’t Katie anymore. She was gray and lifeless, although, through the miracle of medicine, she was technically still alive. The rush of nurses answering doctor’s orders was a stark contrast to the stillness that fell instantly when my husband whispered, “That’s enough.”
For one final time, I brushed her hair and pulled it back into her favorite double ponytails. I climbed into the bed with her and realized that she was officially bigger than me on the day she died.
For weeks, I cycled between deep sadness and despair to peace and hope. One night, in the throes of sorrow, I walked a busy highway behind our house. As the cars raced past, tears streamed down my face, mirroring the rush of busy life surrounding me. It would be so easy to fall in front those cars. It would all be over. All of it.
Today her baby sister turned ten. Staring into her golden-brown eyes is like jumping into a time machine. Katie’s eyes stare back at me as I brush her hair and pull it up into a clip. That clip won’t be there when she gets home from school. But I will.
Follow Patricia on her blog: www.angelwiththesilversmile.
Story written by: Patricia Haggard
This story appeared first on Real Imprints.